Bowling Green’s final tune-up for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs comes this weekend.
The Falcons host Alabama-Huntsville to finish the regular season.
They’re coming off a split at Alaska-Anchorage, the last-place team in the league.
BG posted a 4-3 win in the series opener, but UAA rebounded for a 6-1 win in Game 2.
The Falcons haven’t played consistently well during the second half. BG was 11-3-2 overall and 8-1-1 in the league going into Christmas, but is only 8-7-3 overall and 7-7-2 in the WCHA since.
BG hosts UAH Friday and Saturday nights at 7:07.
“We need to play better,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We’ve talked the whole second half we wanted to repeat what we did the first half in terms of how we played, and we haven’t been able to do that. We’ve been inconsistent.
“It’s an ongoing process to get them to understand this is about them and what they do on a daily basis, and then what we do collectively is based on how the individuals play. This isn’t new.”
BG and Northern Michigan (6-6-2) are tied for the fifth-best winning percentage in the WCHA in league play since Jan. 1.
Minnesota State (.821, 10-1-3) is first, followed by Michigan Tech (.667, 7-3-2), Bemidji State (.643, 8-4-2) and Alaska-Fairbanks (.571, 7-5-2).
“The ownership and accountability is something people this age struggle with,” Bergeron said. “We’re no different. It’s an on-going everyday thing. It didn’t start because of Saturday’s result.”
WCHA: The Falcons already have clinched third place and home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs. They’ll host Bemidji, NMU or Ferris in a first-round best-of-3 series March 13-14-15.
BG just needs one win to reach the 20-victory mark for the first time since the 1995-96 season. It also has improved its win total for the fifth straight season. The Falcons were 18-15-6, 13-11-4 last season.
“We’re in a great spot,” Bergeron said. “We were able to clinch third place and home ice. The next milestone is 20 wins. We have an opportunity to do that. We’ve improved on last year’s win total overall and in the league. It’s good things.”
FATIGUE: After playing just two games in a 41-day stretch and having 29 days off before Christmas, the Falcons appear to be fatigued.
BG has played nine straight weekends and has at least two more weekends left.
“There has to be mental fatigue with our group,” Bergeron said. “There has to be, but that’s no different than any other group in the WCHA. The travel in this league is very difficult.”
BG and NMU are the only teams in the league that haven’t had a weekend off since Jan. 1. Lake Superior has had three weekends off, while UAF has had two, and every other team has had one.
“The fact we’ve played nine weekends in a row, last weekend being in Alaska, that’s not an excuse,” Bergeron said. “I’m just trying to be real with where our group is right now.
The Falcons didn’t practice Monday or Tuesday after returning from Anchorage.
“The mental and physical rest is part of preparation from here on out,” Bergeron said. “We’re trying to prepare our guys and give them ample time to rest so that fatigue, whether it’s mental or physical, isn’t part of our mind-set.”
Bergeron said the Falcons aren’t expecting to rest any players this weekend.
BG forwards Brent Tate and Tyler Spezia are expected to be in the conversation to play this weekend, Bergeron said.
Tate missed both games in Alaska with an elbow injury, while Spezia missed Saturday’s game after being hit by UAA’s Austin Sevalrud.
Sevalrud received a major and game-misconduct penalty for boarding on the play.
“We’re not going to take that approach,” Bergeron said of resting players this weekend. “As it looks right now, that shouldn’t be an issue. (But) if resting them Friday night is in their best interests long-term, that’s what we’ll do.”
LINEUP: The injuries to Tate and Spezia meant BG dressed 11 forwards and seven defensemen for Game 2 at UAA. WCHA rules only allow 22 players to travel, and most teams take 20 skaters and two goalies on each trip.
“Had we known, he wouldn’t have even come with us to Alaska,” Bergeron said of Tate. “I was not aware that it was even potentially an issue that it could keep him out of games.
“That’s way too far to go with healthy bodies at home. That’s a mistake on my part.”
MINGO: BG redshirt junior Dajon Mingo was moved from defense to forward for the UAA series. Mingo was moved from forward to defense midway through last season to add an offensive presence on the blueline.
When asked if Mingo was a full-time forward now, Bergeron said: “No. Dajon, like everybody else, we’re trying to get him to play at a higher level. We’ve been experimenting.”
Mingo has a goal and eight assists, and an on-ice rating of plus-2 in 34 games this season.
ACADEMICS: BG senior defenseman Mike Sullivan and sophomore goalie Tomas Sholl were named WCHA Scholar-Athletes, the league announced Tuesday.
To be eligible, players must have completed at least one year of residency at their present school prior to the current academic year and must also have a grade-point average of at least 3.50 on a 4.0 scale for the previous two semesters or three quarters.
They also can qualify if their overall GPA is at least 3.50 for all terms at their present institution.
Sullivan also received the honor last season.