Bowling Green’s offense is starting to produce.
The Falcons have scored three or more goals in each of their last three games after scoring just eight goals in their previous seven games.
They’ve won all three of those games to improve to 7-3-3 overall and 4-2-2 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. BG hosts Northern Michigan (4-3-5, 3-2-3) Friday and Saturday night in a league series.
“(Scoring) helps the confidence of the group,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
Not only does the scoring help the confidence of the forwards and defensemen, it also helps the mind-set of the goalies. Chris Nell and Tommy Burke know they can allow a goal or two, and they don’t have to pitch a shutout for the Falcons to win.
“We’ve got guys who believe they can score, and I believe they can score. It’s just a matter of making sure we’re doing things right every day,” Bergeron said.
The increased offense is the result, in part, of an improved power play, which has scored seven goals in the last four games.
But the Falcons still are looking to generate more offense 5 on 5. BG has scored just 18 of its 31 goals when the teams are 5 on 5.
“I want us to feel good about (the increased scoring),” Bergeron said. “But we’re got to earn that feeling, and I don’t think we’ve done it to the level we’re capable of yet.”
The Falcons are seventh in the league in scoring at 2.38 goals-per game after being third last season (3.05 gpg). BG returned most of its key offensive players from last season’s team.
NMU is second in the league in goals allowed (2.25 per game).
“We’re going to try to continue think through a game plan to get more chances 5 on 5, knowing it’s difficult because teams defend so hard,” Bergeron said. “They’ve got good goaltending. We need to find a way.”
The Falcons are averaging just 28.8 shots per game, and have reached their per-game goal of 30 shots on goal just four times.
“The more chances you get, the numbers say the more goals you’ll score,” Bergeron said. “We haven’t been creating enough chances 5 on 5.”
PERSPECTIVE: Even though BG has been inconsistent in its play, the team still has found a way to win. The Falcons have won three straight and are 4-1-2 in their last seven games.
“I’ve been talking about the small picture for six years and I’m not going to start talking about the big picture,” Bergeron said.
“The big picture says we’re 7-3-3. The small picture says we’re fighting for a consistent effort. We’re fighting for a consistent level of execution. I’m not going to change that because we’re six years into it or because our record is better.”
In addition to have winning records overall and in the WCHA, the Falcons are 6-2-3 in games decided by two or fewer goals. BG is 3-0 in one-goal games.
“I’m happy with our record and I’m not going to take anything away from our players, that’s theirs. They deserve that,” Bergeron said. “But I also know I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey.
“Our challenge is to get to that level every day as individuals and as a collective group.”
The Falcons are tied with Ferris State for third place in the WCHA with 10 points, two behind co-leaders Minnesota State and Michigan Tech. BG and Ferris both have played two fewer games.
“I’m talking about the level of execution we’re capable of getting to on a daily basis as an individual and as a collective group,” Bergeron said, “Because what we find here at (BG) is what we do on a daily basis reflects what we’re going to do in games.
“Some teams are able to not practice well and play well (in games). Some teams practice great and can’t bring that to games. We’re a group that what we do in every practice every days reflects what we’re doing to do in games.”
The Falcons are ranked 15th nationally by U.S. College Hockey Online. They’ve been 16th or higher in all eight weeks of the poll, hitting a high of 10th Oct. 12.
“We’re just trying to keep things in perspective,” Bergeron said. “We’re happy with our record, but there’s no sense of accomplishment. There’s lots of work to do and that’s our focus every day.”
FAST START: The Falcons’ 7-3-3 overall record is their second-best 13-game start in the last 10 seasons.
HOME ICE ADVANTAGE: The Falcons are unbeaten in their last nine home games (7-0-2), dating back to last season — the longest such streak in school history since a 20-game streak (19-0-1) during the 1994-95 and 95-96 seasons.
It is the second longest active streak nationally. Top-ranked Quinnipiac is unbeaten in its last 10 home games, going 8-0-2 in that span.
NMU: The Wildcats are coming off two ties against Minnesota State last weekend.
NMU reloaded this season after losing senior forward Reed Seckel and three senior defensemen.
“Just like Ferris State and Bob Daniels, you know what you’re going to get with a Walt Kyle coached team,” Bergeron said of NMU. Kyle is in his 14th season as the school’s head coach.
“They’ve done an outstanding of recruiting and getting kids to play the game the way they want to play.”