Bowling Green’s scoring has been by committee this season.
The Falcons are thriving because of it.
They’re 11th nationally and second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in goals sored, averaging 3.30 per game.
BG also is second in the WCHA in league-game scoring, averaging 3.58 gpg.
Even though the Falcons have scored, they don’t have a player in the top 12 in overall scoring in the league.
Matt Pohlkamp, a sophomore forward, is BG’s leading scorer with 16 points, good for a tie for 13th place in the league.
But the Falcons have four forward lines capable of scoring and their defense corps has contributed to the offense as well. And BG’s scoring has come from all four classes.
The Falcons, ranked as high as seventh nationally this week, are 13-3-4 overall and 9-1-2 in the league as they head to No. 11 Michigan Tech (15-6-1, 10-3-1) for a two-game series Friday and Saturday nights.
“It’s been really valuable for us to rely on different people to help us with the offense,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We need people contributing.
“It’s worked out to where we haven’t had to rely on one guy or two guys. If it’s not this guy, it’s somebody else. That’s a good thing.”
The balanced scoring can be a bonus in big games and the playoffs, when checking is tighter and the best players often receive extra attention from their opponents.
“When you get to playoff time, difficult situations, it’s a good thing you don’t have to rely on one group or one guy,” Bergeron said. “Teams can’t focus on shutting down just one line or one guy.”
GOALTENDING: Although BG freshman Chris Nell is third nationally with a 1.41 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage, Bergeron said the position is still a three-way battle.
“We’ll still continue to play the goalie we feel gives us the best chance to win,” Bergeron said. “The competition continues to develop, continues to bring out the best in our guys.
“We’re evaluating that constantly. We’ve got more games to use as evaluation and we’ve got more practices to use as evaluation.”
However, Tomas Sholl didn’t play well in Saturday’s 4-4 tie against the University of Alaska (Fairbanks). He allowed two soft goals and nearly allowed a third because of a misplay before being pulled after just 16:38.
Sholl has not played well in two of his last three starts. He was sharp with 34 saves in a 4-1 win at No. 20 Robert Morris Jan. 4, his first start since Oct. 31.
“He’s still in the conversation,” Bergeron said of Sholl. “Obviously, what happened Saturday night is not good enough. I would be shocked if he didn’t say it wasn’t good enough for him. But Saturday night, that was part of the evaluation process. That was an opportunity he let slip away.”
PRAISE: BG has steadily improved in its five seasons under Bergeron, and assistant coaches Ty Eigner and Barry Schutte.
“Sometimes when things happen to a program and there’s a transition, a lot of the focus goes on the head coach or the coaching staff, “ Bergeron said. “But our players deserve the credit.”
The Falcons were 5-25-6 overall in their final season before Bergeron was hired.
“We’ve brought in a bunch of great kids and put them in a situation where there are expectations and accountability with those expectations,” Bergeron said. “But it’s the players who have decided to push themselves outside their comfort zone, on and off the ice.
“That’s where the pride comes from. That’s what is helping us win games, that family type atmosphere has helped us win games and will continue to help us win games.”
TANGIBLE RESULTS: In addition to contending for a league title, the Falcons have returned to the national polls and are in contention for an NCAA playoff berth this season.
“It’s such a fine line because you don’t want it to be breed complacency,” Bergeron said. “I don’t find our group to be complacent because we haven’t been in this position before. It’s not like here we are again. This is new.
“But I do want them to be proud of what they’ve done and what they continue to do. That’s a good thing. The taste in their mouth is positive. It’s something they want more of. That’s the type of group we have. It’s a group that stays hungry.”
This week, the Falcons were seventh in the U.S. College Hockey Online Top 20 and eighth in the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15.
“The fine line we’re walking is (a feeling of) we’ve arrived and we no longer have to work. We have nowhere close to arrived,” Bergeron said. “You have to rely on your older guys to remind the younger guys all the time that this is not over. We’ve played 20 games, that’s it. We have not arrived.
“But some of the hard work is paying off and it’s showing off in the results, in the conversation of national rankings and so on.”
Even though the series at Tech is drawing major attention from the college hockey community, the Falcons say they’re treating it like another week — regardless of what’s at stake in the league and nationally.
“If we come to play, we can play well, and that’s the focus this week and every week,” BG junior Ben Murphy said. “The coaches do a good job of keeping us humble with (not worrying about the polls).
“At my house, we don’t talk about it much,” Murphy added. “It’s in the back of our minds, but it’s not what makes us tick.”
INJURY: BG senior forward Ted Pletsch suffered a cut on the top of his foot when he was stepped on during practice just prior to BG’s Christmas break.
The cut required several surgeries, Bergeron said. Pletsch was a wearing walking boot and using some mini-crutches last weekend.