An improved power play is one of Bowling Green’s major goals this season.
The Falcons scored just 24 power-play goals in 39 games last season, converting on only 15.6 percent of their 154 chances with the extra man.
“Sixteen percent isn’t good enough,” said Falcon coach Chris Bergeron, whose team has a goal of scoring at 20 percent on the power play. “We have to score more on the power play. The power play is a big part of every game.”
The Falcons were 23-11-5 overall and finished third in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association last season, despite having the fifth-best power play in the 10-team league. BG also managed to finish third in the league in goals per game (3.1).
The Falcons believe they have plenty of talent and depth to be score consistently on the power play this season.
“We’ve got power-play guys all over the place,” Bergeron said. “We’re probably 12, 13,14 deep now in terms of guys who can play on the power play.”
“If you’re getting it done, you’ll stay out there. If you’re not, you won’t. That’s a good thing because it means we’ll be getting the best out of people to stay on the power play. “
PK: The Falcons are looking for another season of quality penalty-killing.
They were second nationally last season at 89.8 percent and even ranked first for part of the season. BG’s goal is 90 percent.
BG must replace four key members of its penalty-killing unit. Dan DeSalvo and Adam Berkle often were the first forwards over the boards, while defensemen Mike Sullivan and Connor Kucera saw extensive ice time with BG short-handed.
All six Falcon defensemen each night are expected to kill penalties. Three freshmen are expected to see regular action on defense this season. They are Matthew Ferrari, Connor McDonald and Chris Pohlkamp.
“I’m not too worried about that,” Bergeron said of replacing DeSalvo and Berkle. “Where it becomes difficult is on (defense). The young guys are good players, but the way we kill penalties is different and there’s a bit of an adjustment. That’s where the biggest change will be.”
Bergeron expects junior Matt Pohlkamp, and sophomores Mitch McLain and Tyler Spezia to be the top three forwards.
He also said junior Pierre-Luc Mercier, senior Mark Cooper, and freshmen John Schilling, Stephen Baylis, Shane Bednard and Joe McKeown to vie for ice time on the penalty-killing unit.
Mercier was one of BG’s penalty-killing forwards last season.
FIRST TIME: The Falcons were 16th in the U.S. College Hockey Online poll announced Monday, the first time they were in the first poll of the season since the poll started with the 1997-98 season.
LEADERSHIP: Although the Falcons haven’t named their captains, Bergeron expects the team’s five seniors to be leaders.
“The Bowling Green hockey program, the thing they talk about is 1984,” Bergeron said. “Everyone talks about Gino Cavallini. But there were eight seniors on that team and you see that group together. You see that group in a room and everyone gravitates to the seniors.”
Cavallini scored in the fourth overtime of the 1984 NCAA championship, giving the Falcons their only national title.
“I’m not saying you can’t win with younger people,” Bergeron said. “I’m saying you go as far as your seniors take you. These seniors are guys we need to act like they’ve been there before because they have, whether they’re the man, or they’re on the power play or they’re the starting goalie, we need them to be seniors. They’re capable. These guys have put the work in. That to us is where this starts and stops is that senior group.”
BG’s seniors are goalie Tommy Burke; defenseman Jose Delgadillo and Dajon Mingo; and forwards Mark Cooper, Ben Murphy and Brent Tate.