Bowling Green faces a familiar opponent this weekend.
The Falcons visit Ferris State, the team they defeated twice in one-goal games last weekend in the Ice Arena.
BG posted a 2-1, 3-2 sweep, rallying from a one-goal deficit both nights.
Each team had 19 shots in the first game, and Ferris held a 23-19 edge in shots during the series finale.
The Falcons and Ferris both play physical, close-checking and hard-working styles.
“This probably will be a tougher Ferris team, even though they were very difficult here,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
BG, ranked eighth nationally, is 17-6-5 overall and 13-4-3 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. Ferris is 11-17-1, 8-12.
“The bottom line will be two teams fighting really hard for standings, for positioning in the playoffs, just because it’s a good rivalry, and two teams that probably don’t like each other very much,” Bergeron said.
WCHA: BG, which needs just two points to clinch a berth in the WCHA playoffs, is third in the league.
The Falcons are six points behind second-place Michigan Tech and 10 behind top-ranked and WCHA leader Minnesota State. The Falcons have two games in hand on both, but BG has only eight games left.
Ferris and Bemidji State each have 16 points, four behind Northern Michigan, which holds the fourth and final home ice spot. Each team has played 20 games.
Bemidji visits NMU this weekend.
“Getting late in the year, everybody’s opportunities are getting smaller and smaller. There’s desperation there,” Bergeron said.
FERRIS: Ferris has lost six straight and 10 of its last 12 games. The first four losses of the six-game streak were to Minnesota State.
Although Ferris is just 5-5 at home this season, the Bulldogs almost always play well at home.
“We’re walking into a bees’ nest, for sure,” Bergeron said. “We have to be ready for that. That was our message to the guys today, and that will be the message to the guys for the rest of the week as we prepare.
“We have to be ready for the drop of the puck come Friday night because Ferris will be.”
FOCUS: BG’s major points of emphasis this week are being more disciplined with its actions and game plan, and generating more offense.
The Falcons were short-handed eight times for a total of 13:31 in Game 1 against Ferris, and were short-handed for 9:46 in Game 2, 7:46 of that coming in the second period.
BG also received a 10-minute misconduct penalty and an unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing with the officials during the series.
Playing short-handed for so long reduced the Falcons’ amount of time 5 on 5, and partially led to their having just 38 shots. BG is averaging 30.1 shots per game and is 12th nationally in scoring (3.04 goals per game).
“We’ve got to create somehow more opportunities towards the other team’s net 5 on 5,” Bergeron said. “We just did not create enough offense, generally speaking, and that has to change.”
DEFENSE: The Falcons allowed just the three goals and 42 shots against Ferris.
“There are always little things you can get better at,” Bergeron said, citing Ferris’ first goal Saturday resulted from a backchecking issue by BG.
“We have to limit what we give them because they’re going to create things on their own,” Bergeron said. “We don’t need to hand them things.
“There were situations where we ended up on the strong side of the puck and wrong side of scrums, and turnovers. But we defended hard. We limited their chances.”
PK: The Falcons remain first nationally in penalty-killing at 93.1 percent.
The only other teams at 90 percent or better are Cornell and St. Lawrence, both at 90 percent. Minnesota State is second in the WCHA at 87.3 percent.
“Ninety percent is a very high goal, but it was an achievable goal, not knowing where it would put us in the country,” Bergeron said. “I don’t care about that stat. I care about the number.”
The Falcons have a veteran penalty-killing unit, with senior forwards Adam Berkle and Dan DeSalvo, and senior defensemen Mike Sullivan and Connor Kucera leading the way.
“As the year’s gone on, the expectations have gotten higher and higher because of the results,” Bergeron said. “There’s no way I’d have thought we’d be where we are today in terms of the number because that wasn’t the expectation.
“The expectation was 90 percent, and we’ve been able to achieve that to this point. You want your goal to be attainable without it being easy, and 90 percent is a fair number.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: Bergeron said his goal for BG’s special teams this season was to be No. 1 in the league.
The Falcons are third in the league in total special teams net with a plus-10. The stat consists of all power-play and short-handed goals. Minnesota State is first at plus-23, and Tech is second at plus-20.
Ferris is fourth at minus-1. No other teams are even or better.
The BG power play is seventh in the league at 15 percent, including a 0 of 9 effort last weekend.
Bergeron said the season goal for the power play is 20 percent.
SERIES: The Falcons are 57-56-12 all-time against Ferris, but only 26-32-7 in Big Rapids, Michigan.
Last season at Ferris, the Bulldogs posted a 3-3 tie and a 4-2 win against BG.