Bowling Green wasn’t sharp Saturday night.
The Falcons worked hard, but their execution wasn’t very good in a 1-1 tie against Lake Superior in the Ice Arena.
The tie left BG, ranked 14th nationally, at 4-2-3 overall and 1-1-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Falcons and Lakers (2-6-2, 0-2-2) also played a 1-1 tie Friday night.
“We competed,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We just didn’t have as much bite to our compete as there was last night. Give full credit to Lake Superior.”
The Falcons held a 29-27 edge in shots, but failed to consistently test Laker goalie Gordon Defiel. The sophomore made 28 saves, 11 in the second period. He stopped 42 shots Friday.
The Lakers, a big, strong team, played a strong defensive game.
“There was no room in their defensive zone at all,” Bergeron said. “We were late to everything, which ultimately meant we were chasing the game around the whole game.
“Scoring one goal both nights is not even close to good enough. We weren’t sharp enough mentally.”
Lake Superior was the fresher team as it rolled all four of its forward lines and all six of its defensemen. BG didn’t use its full lineup because it had some players who weren’t playing well.
“That makes it very difficult on those other guys who are going a bunch because they’re playing guys who are more fresh because there are more guys involved from the other side,” Bergeron said. “They were in our face all weekend.”
The Falcons are 1-1-2 in their last four games following last weekend’s split at Alaska-Anchorage. UAA and Lake Superior were next-to-last and last, respectively, in the WCHA coaches poll.
“What we’re trying to get across to this group is every play matters for the 15-16 team, whether that play is a faceoff, a dumped puck, a blocked shot, a play in front of the other team’s net,” Bergeron said.
“When we talk about every play matters, it’s every day and they still look at you like it’s just practice. Those are habits that you form on an every day basis. We’ve talked about being great every day. That’s a willingness to prepare and to make your habits right and be good with the details. That’s our challenge.”
The Falcons have scored just 21 goals in their nine games, including two goals or fewer in five straight games and seven times overall this season.
And BG couldn’t sweep a series when it allowed just one goal each game.
“It’s as much around the other team’s net. There were opportunities and we weren’t ready to capitalize on those opportunities,” Bergeron said.
CONSISTENCY: Chris Nell gave the Falcons another strong game in goal with 26 saves, six coming in the overtime. The only Laker goal came on a screen shot from the top of the circles during a Laker power play.
“He played well, that’s not surprising,” Bergeron said. “He’s been fairly consistent all year long.”
Bergeron also said Nell is BG’s No. 1 goalie, and that the sophomore and senior Tommy Burke are no longer 1 and 1A at the position. Nell has started three straight games and six of BG’s nine games this season.
“What we have to be careful of is overplaying him early. I don’t want to do that. We’ll just have to monitor how that goes,” Bergeron said.
Nell has a 2-1-3 record with a 1.07 goals-against average and a .960 save percentage. Burke has a 3.36 goals-against and an .875 save percentage, posting a 2-1 record in thee games.
Nell stopped 26 shots Saturday and 57 of 59 shots in the series. He was tested far more frequently than Defiel Saturday.
“He’s played the best of the three guys to this point,” Bergeron said of Nell. “The stats show it. His results show it. What that means about how plays and how much, we’ll have to see.”
SCRATCH: BG’s Ben Murphy was a healthy scratch Saturday. The senior was expected to be one of BG’s best forwards this season, but has only a goal and two assists in eight games.
“He has to play better on a daily basis,” Bergeron said. “His execution every day isn’t good enough. His details every day aren’t good enough. He knows that.
“He’s not alone, but when you’ve got competition at the forward position, the only way to me, to truly get guys to change is to take things away. He’s a great kid and I don’t like doing it, but I don’t know of any other way.
MORE PENALITES: Penalties hurt the Falcons for the second straight game.
They took two penalties Saturday with a 1-0 lead and Lake Superior converted on the second power play to tie the game. BG took four straight penalties Friday with a 1-0 lead.
“I was pretty disappointed in our discipline all weekend long,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons, however, are averaging just 8.9 penalty minutes per game, second-fewest in the WCHA.
Lake Superior tied Saturdays game after Kevin Dufour’s tripping penalty at 16:54 of the second period in the offensive zone.
“Absolutely ridiculous,” Bergeron said of Dufour’s penalty. “Usually those cost you and it did.”
BG’s Connor McDonald was penalized for cross-checking a Laker in the head during overtime.
DEFENSE: The Falcon defense corps had a good weekend as Lake Superior scored just once each game.
“We defended really well in the defensive zone,” BG defenseman Sean Walker said.
Joining Walker and McDonald on defense were Dajon Mingo, Mark Friedman, Chris Pohlkamp and Jose Delgadillo.
The Falcons have just seven defensemen this season.
“Hopefully, that’s a (good) sign,” Bergeron said of the weekend. “Those guys are capable. We’re not as deep as we thought we were going to be and would like to be. It puts a lot of pressure on those guys.”
“We’re improving back there,” Walker said.
ARE YOU KIDDING: Loesch’s goal was the first of his career. The senior forward had gone 90 games without a goal, totaling just nine assists in that span.
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcons were 1 of 5 on the power play, although the five chances lasted just a total of 7:08.
Lake Superior was 1 of 4 in 4:55 with the extra man.
For the season, BG is 2 of 29 (6.9 percent) on the power play and 29 of 34 (85.3 percent) on the penalty-kill.