Notebook: Falcons face familiar opponent in playoffs

By March 10, 2015 September 26th, 2015 Notebooks

Bowling Green faces a familiar opponent in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

The Falcons host Northern Michigan, a team they have played four times this season, and are meeting in the first round of the playoffs for the third time in five seasons.

The most recent games this season resulted in a 3-2 (overtime), 4-3 NMU sweep in the Ice Arena Feb. 20-21.

The Falcons played well in four of the six periods, but NMU rallied from a one-goal deficit in the third period each night.

The best-of-3 quarterfinal series is Friday, Saturday and, if needed, Sunday. Faceoff each night is at 7:07.

“That’s good for us. We want another crack at those guys after the series we played here,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said. “We’ll prepare like we always do. I’m really glad we’re at home.”

The Falcons held a 39-24 edge in shots in Game 1 and a 27-22 margin in Game 2.

“We thought we played better than the results. Now, we’ll have to prove it,” Bergeron said.

The Falcons earned a 5-5 tie and a 5-0 win at NMU Dec. 5-6. BG settled for the tie after losing a 5-3 lead during the final 30 minutes.

FACTS: The Falcons finished the regular season 21-10-5 overall and third in the WCHA with a 17-8-3 record.

NMU, sixth in the league coaches poll, finished seventh with records of 14-16-6, 11-13-4.

The Wildcats moved up to the No. 6 seed for the playoffs because fourth-place Alaska (Fairbanks) is ineligible for all post-season play, the result of NCAA rules violations announced in March.

NOT AGAIN: The Falcons won at NMU in the first round of the 2011 and 2012 Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

BG lost the first game in both series, but came back to win in three games.

The seniors on both teams this season played in the 2012 series.

“They’re not going to forget about that,” Bergeron said of NMU.

In both years, the Falcons finished last in the 11-team CCHA and NMU finished sixth.

GOALTENDING: Junior Tommy Burke, who has started seven of BG’s last nine games, is expected to be in goal for Game 1 against NMU.

Burke has 2.19 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage in 20 games.

STATS: In WCHA games only, BG was third in the league in scoring (3.11 goals per game), fifth in goals allowed (2.36 gpg) and power-play conversions (16.4 percent) and third in penalty-killing (88. 5 percent).

NMU was seventh in both scoring (2.11 gpg) and goals allowed (2.54 gpg), third in power-play conversions (18.9) and fifth in penalty-killing (85.7 percent).

POLLS: The Falcons remained 13th this week in the U.S. College Hockey Online Top 20 and the USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine Top 15.

In the U.S. College Hockey Online voting, the Falcons received 412 votes, an increase from 388 last week.

In the USA Today voting, BG totaled 116 points, up from 91 last week.

Two other WCHA teams were ranked — league champion Minnesota State was second in both, and runnerup Michigan Tech was fourth in both.

MR. MARCH: BG senior center Dan DeSalvo set a CCHA playoff record with 10 goals in 2012. He was a freshman that season.

The previous record was eight.

The Falcons advanced to the CCHA Championships, losing to Michigan in overtime in the semifinals and to Miami in the third-place game.

BG advanced to the semifinals by winning three-game series at NMU and CCHA regular-season champion Ferris State.

SERIES: The Falcons are 41-40-8 all-time against NMU, including a 21-15-3 edge in the Ice Arena.

The home team is 0-4-1 in the last five games of the series.

The series dates back to the 1975-76 season.

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. After providing another two years of the Falcon hockey coverage fans had grown to love over the past three decades, Kevin decided to hang up his notebook and is now enjoying the retired life. Please join us by sending Kevin a tweet and thank him for all the time he's dedicated to BGSU hockey: @KGordonBG.