Jakob Reichert had a strong finish to the first half of the season.
Now, the Bowling Green sophomore is looking to resume his solid play during the second half and become a consistent contributor.
He played well in the first period and then was promoted to right wing on the Falcons’ top line for the two final two periods of their game at Bemidji State Dec. 12. He continued to play well and had an assist in the Falcons’ 2-0 victory to finish the pre-Christmas portion of the schedule.
The Falcons begin the second half of the season with three nonleague games, tonight against Western Michigan at the Huntington Center in Toledo, and Saturday and Sunday at home against Clarkson in the Ice Arena.
“I played closer to how I expect myself to play and how the coaches expect me to play,” said Reichert, whose cross-ice pass along the blueline set up Kevin Dufour’s goal against Bemidji.
The goal opened the scoring at 10:01 of the second period. The Falcons, ranked as high as 12th in the country, added a third-period goal to improve to 11-3-5 overall and 8-2-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
“It was a good time to start playing well and go into the break playing well,” Reichert said. “Now, that we’re back, I want to keep it rolling. We have a bunch of important games coming up, starting with Western Michigan, I want to keep my game rolling and help the team win.”
Reichert started the Bemidji game as BG’s 13th forward, sharing a spot on right wing with Ben Murphy on the fourth line. But a solid first period earned him a spot on the top line with center Tyler Spezia and left wing Dufour for the final two periods.
The three skated together again in practice this week, along with Mark Cooper, whose spot Reichert took at Bemidji.
Reichert’s other only point this season was a goal in BG’s season-opening 6-3 win at Ohio State Oct. 9.
“I took advantage of my opportunity,” Reichert said. “I did what I could do and showed the coaches what I’m capable of. That gave me the opportunity to keep getting put out there.”
Reichert can be effective with a good mix of size and skill.
The 6-foot-5, 227-pounder can be a force below the top of the circles in the offensive zone, and he can be a presence in front of the net and along the boards. But he has the skill and hockey sense to score goals and make plays.
Reichert also is striving to improve all aspects of his defensive game.
But his transition from the British Columbia (Junior) Hockey League hasn’t been smooth.
Reichert played four seasons in the BCHL, totaling 55 goals and 81 assists in 218 regular-season and playoff games. But he played in just 30 of BG’s 39 games last season, producing two goals and three assists, with on-ice rating of even.
“He’s such a good kid, and he wants to do well,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “We just need him to play. He’s a good hockey player, but he’s doing too much thinking and not enough playing.
“When you do that, you’re psyching yourself out and not playing to the level you’re capable of, and you’re making mistakes. That’s what he’s been struggling with. (Against Bemidji), he was just playing, using his instincts and his skills.”
Reichert’s been working on reading and reacting to each situation with the help of volunteer assistant coach Dan Mayes.
“I’m definitely getting better at it,” said Reichert, who has a 3.9 grade-point average with a major in accounting. “I’ve been overthinking the game, instead of just playing and doing what got me to Bowling Green That’s what I have to get back to.
“I’ve just been doing my normal routine, getting more reps in during practice, and going out early and staying later, and working on stuff,” Reichert added. “It’s becoming more natural in terms of what you’re doing out there instead of thinking about it.”
Reichert feels more comfortable and confident this season
“It was a huge step coming from juniors,” Reichert said. “Everyone says it’s a big step, but you really don’t know what to expect until you get here. You’re playing against guys who are bigger, faster and stronger.
“Once you get there and see what it’s like, see what everyone’s dedication is like and the level of everything, you know what you have to do,” Reichert added.
Reichert, who turned 22 in September, had a good summer of training in his hometown of Langley, British Columbia.
“He’s committed to the lifestyle off the ice in terms of his strength and conditioning,” Bergeron said. “He’s in much better shape and he’s much stronger than he was last year at this time, based on his willingness to work.”
Reichert lifted weights and conditioned five days a week over the summer, and was on the ice twice a week to improve his skating and puck skills.
“I’m in better shape and my skating is better,” Reichert said. “Skating is such a big part of the game, now that they’ve eliminated the clutching and grabbing. It’s not that I’ve struggled with my skating, but I’m a bigger guy, and it’s something I need to work on.”
Reichert is hoping to become a regular in the lineup. He’s played in just 13 of BG’s 19 games this season. He also wants to earn ice time on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
“I want to make a difference-maker and contribute to the team,” Reichert said. “I want to be a guy the coaches can count on in every situation.”