Bowling Green and Minnesota State both had a productive weekend in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association standings.
The Falcons and Mavericks both earned two points, thanks to two 2-2 ties in the Ice Arena. They also gained two points on Michigan Tech, which lost two one-goal games at home to Alaska-Anchorage.
The Mavericks lead the WCHA with 18 points, followed by BG and Tech with 16, and Ferris State with 14. BG and MSU each have played two fewer games.
MSU is the WCHA’s defending regular-season champion and was the coaches pick to win the league this season. The Falcons edged Tech by one point for second place in the coaches poll.
“Dec. 4-5 is a little early to look at the standings,” said Falcon coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his sixth season.
“But I still think it’s pretty neat for us to be looking at the standings when six years ago we weren’t looking at the standings because we didn’t care because it didn’t look very good.”
The Falcons travel to Mankato Feb. 4-5 for another series with MSU, and they’ll host Tech Jan. 29-30. MSU is at Tech Jan. 15-16. Ferris’ only remaining series against the top three teams comes Feb. 26-27 at BG.
“I like the standings to mean something because that means we’re progressing as a program like we want to,” Bergeron said.
BG is 7-1-4 in its last 12 games, including a 5-0-2 record in its last seven games. All 12 games have been league contests.
“We just keep taking care of our business and the standings will take care of themselves,” Bergeron said.
“To get two ties at home against a really good Minnesota State team is a good weekend for us,” Bergeron said. “The fact that one of the teams ahead of us didn’t have a good weekend at home, in terms of points, that’s good for us. But that’s not something we think about because we can’t control that.”
MEASURING UP: The Falcons played well during the final two periods and overtime Saturday against MSU following a poor performance Friday. BG was using the series to see where it stood against the Mavericks.
The Mavericks were second by one point to Ferris in the league in 2014, and have won both league playoff championships.
“We showed tonight we’re very close,” said senior assistant captain Mark Cooper, who scored both BG goals Saturday. “When we were getting into our game, we could play with them. We outplayed them. We outshot them.”
The Falcons held a 33-24 edge in shots on goal Saturday, including a 29-15 margin during the third period and overtime.
“Last night, they kind of dominated us for three periods,” Cooper said. “When we can play (our game), we can play with the best in our league. We just have to do that on a more consistent basis.”
DEFENSE: The short-handed defense BG defense corps held up well in a game that was fast, physical and emotional, leaving both teams fatigued.
The Falcons started the game with just five defensemen, and Jose Delgadillo was hurt early in the third period. He didn’t return.
And at one point near the midway of the third period, defensemen Sean Walker, Mark Friedman and Connor McDonald all were in the penalty box. That left Braden Pears for a key penalty-kill with BG holding a 2-1 lead.
The Falcons went with Pears and two forwards on the kill, and didn’t allow a goal. BG forward Pierre-Luc Mercier also saw a shift on defense in the third period.
“They’re logging a lot of minutes and doing well,” Cooper said of the defense.
The Falcon defensemen become more conservative when they’re down to just four, focusing more on defense, instead of joining the rush to create offense.
“We played it a little more safe and conserved our energy for the defensive zone, and let our forwards handle the offensive zone,” Walker said. “Once we’re down to four (defensemen), it’s pretty hard (to be offensive).
“We have to make sure we’re not jumping up every single time like we want to. We have to play defense first.