For the first time this season, Bowling Green is enjoying a weekend off.
The Falcons are idle until Dec. 5-6 when they visit Northern Michigan in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
BG has played eight straight weekends, including its exhibition contest Oct. 4.
The Falcons are 10-3-1 overall and 7-1 in the WCHA, including a 3-1, 3-2 sweep of Bemijdi State in the Ice Arena last weekend. BG is ranked 15th nationally.
BG practiced Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday this week before breaking for Thanksgiving. The Falcons will return to BG Sunday for an 11:30 a.m. practice.
“We need a little bit of a break, and the off weekend comes at a good time,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Falcons and NMU are contending for the league championship.
Michigan Tech leads the WCHA with 16 points, followed by BG and Minnesota State with 14, and NMU with eight. But NMU has played just six games — two fewer than BG and MSU, and four fewer than Tech.
“Those are two major league games for us. They’re really important,” Bergeron said.
The NMU series marks BG’s final games until Jan. 3-4.
“I don’t look at it that we have two games in six weeks,” Bergeron said. “What we’re looking at is trying to finish the first half as strong as possible. Part of that preparation is rest, and we’re going to get some rest this weekend.”
BREAK: After playing NMU, the Falcons are idle until Jan. 3-4 when they face Robert Morris in a nonleague series.
Between the Bemidji and RMU series, BG plays just two games in 41 days.
The Falcons will practice the week after the NMU series during the semester’s final week of class. The week of Dec. 15 is final exam week, and the players will head home when their exams are completed.
The players will return to BG Dec. 28 to start preparations for RMU.
“We’ll address the time off when we say goodbye to them to go home after their exams,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons already have had road trips to Alabama-Huntsville, Clarkson and Alaska (Fairbanks). During the second half, they’ll visit Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Bemijdi and Alaska-Anchorage.
SWITCH: The Falcons originally were scheduled to have two off weekends during the second half, but both were switched to the first half.
BG was scheduled to play Ferris State this weekend, but the series was switched to February to allow the Bulldogs to visit Wisconsin in a nonleague series.
The move means BG and Ferris will play back-to-back weekends, Feb. 6-7 at BG and Feb. 13-14 at Ferris.
“We all want to do what’s best for our programs and our league, that was fine,” Bergeron said of the Ferris switch. “Normally, you wouldn’t see us play the same team four games in a row, but that’s what happened. That’s fine.”
The Falcons also were scheduled to visit Tech Dec. 12-13, but that was moved to Jan. 16-17. The move was made at BG’s request, so it wouldn’t have back-to-back trips to the Upper Peninsula.
DETAILS: Even though BG has won three of its last four games, Bergeron still isn’t pleased with the team’s play of late.
The Falcons were inconsistent in a split with Ohio State Nov. 14-15, and only played sporadically well against Bemidji.
“The details of our game, in particular our play with the puck,” Bergeron said when asked what areas need to be improved. “Both individually and collectively, the details of our game have not been good of late.
“Our play with the puck has not been good enough. We turn too many pucks over. We haven’t been hard enough on pucks. We’re giving teams opportunities to play the game in transition versus having to defend.”
The Falcons are at their best when they’re controlling the puck in the offensive zone. BG generates quality scoring chances from the possession and forces its opponents to take penalties.
“When you’re turning pucks over and not being hard on pucks, you’re bringing people’s transition game into play,” Bergeron said. “You’re bringing penalties into play because you’re having to haul people down and take dumb penalties because of the way you’re playing with the puck.”
BERKLE: As of Tuesday afternoon, Bergeron hadn’t heard from WCHA supervisor of officials Greg Shepherd in regards to a major penalty assessed to BG’s Adam Berkle Saturday.
Berkle received a major and a game misconduct for contact to the head during the first period. Shepherd reviews all major penalties to determine if additional penalties (game suspensions) are needed.
Bergeron doubted Berkle would receive an additional suspension.
After the game Saturday, Bergeron said the hit was the result of a difference in height between the 6-foot-2 Berkle and Bemidji’s Myles Fitzgerald, who is only 5-7.
SICK: BG freshman forward Tyler Spezia missed the Bemidji series because he was sick, Bergeron said.
Bergeron added he doesn’t see Spezia “being in the conversation for Northern Michigan at this point.”
“He’s still sick and not able to play,” said Bergeron, who declined to be more specific about Spezia’s illness.
Spezia has four goals and five assists, and on-ice rating of plus-5 in 12 games.