Notebook: Falcons looking “to get over the hump”

By January 7, 2016Notebooks
Bowling Green's Brett D'Andrea makes a play as Clarkson's James de Haas defends last weekend in the Ice Arena (Photo by Todd Pavlack/BGSUHockey.com).

Bowling Green still is climbing up the hill.

The Falcons entered the second half with a nine-game unbeaten streak, but lost two of their first three games after the Christmas break.

The losses came against teams with losing records, opponents the Falcons should beat, at least on paper.

BG turned in an uninspired and disappointing performance Sunday in a 3-2 loss to Clarkson at the Ice Arena after posting a 6-3 victory Saturday in the series opener.

The Falcons were 1-0 losers Dec. 30 to Western Michigan in Toledo’s Huntington Center, even though they held a 35-24 edge in shots.

BG, 12-5-5 overall and 8-2-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, visits Lake Superior Friday and Saturday nights in a WCHA series.

The Falcons were 7-0-2 during those last nine games prior to Christmas.

“As a program, we’re trying to get over that hump and that hump being not winning that game we should win,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “A good number of times, we do win that game we should win. And there were a couple opportunities last week that we didn’t.”

Although the season regular still has two months remaining, the two losses probably mean the Falcons have to win the WCHA playoff championship to advance to the NCAA playoffs.

BG fell from 16th to 22nd in the Pairwise Rankings, which mirror the selection criteria for the NCAA playoffs. The NCAAs consist of the six league playoff champions and 10 at-large berths.

The top 16 teams in the Pairwise don’t always advance to the NCAAs because of playoff championships won by teams not in the top 16.

There are no WCHA teams in the top 16 of the Pairwise. The top WCHA team in the Pairwise is Minnesota State at No. 17. No other WCHA teams are in the top 25.

“Whether they’re league (games) or not, we’re trying to get beyond that and try to win those games that we’re supposed to win on paper or the games we play well and find a way not to win,” Bergeron said.

The Falcons had played well much of the time since late November, the only clunkers being the Clarkson loss and a 2-2 tie against Minnesota State Dec. 4.

“We just want to keep playing well and the results will take care of themselves,” Bergeron said. “But we’re trying to climb beyond that good but not great mentality or the good but not great results. We’re still fighting it a little bit.”

WCHA: BG is second in the WCHA with 20 points, two behind leader Minnesota State, three ahead of third-place Michigan Tech and five ahead of fourth-place Ferris State. The Falcons and MSU each have played two fewer games than Tech and Ferris.

“We didn’t start the second half the way we wanted to, going 1-2. But we’re in a great spot in the league and the last 14 games start Friday night,” Bergeron said. “It’s going to be a grind. They’re battling for playoff position. We’re battling for playoff position.”

The Lakers are tied for seventh in the 10-team league with 12 points, but are only four points out of fourth and they have played four fewer games than Ferris. The top eight teams earn playoff berths, with the top four hosting quarterfinal series.

LAKERS: After finishing last in the WCHA coaches poll this season and missing the league playoffs last season, Lake Superior is much improved.

The Lakers are 7-11-4 overall and 4-4-4 in the league. They need just one win to match their overall total of last season when they were 8-28-1 overall and 7-20-1 in the league.

Lake Superior played two 1-1 ties in the Ice Arena Nov. 6-7. Since those ties, the Lakers are 5-5-2 overall and 4-2-2 in the WCHA.

“They’re a good team,” Bergeron said. “They’re a big team. They’re hard for us to play against and they have been. They’re a better team in our league than people said they would be in preseason, which we knew they would be, and they’re young.

“They have some good young players. That young energy is dangerous. It’s going to a hard-fought series, just like every other series in the WCHA. Their goaltending has the potential to steal games. They have some good skill up front.”

The Lakers’ top 14 scorers are non-seniors, six of their eight defensemen are non-seniors and their top two goalies are non-seniors.

SERIES: The Falcons are 4-5-1 in their last 10 games against Lake Superior, including a 1-4-3 record in the WCHA.

BG is making its first trip to Sault Ste. Marie, Mich. since the 2013-14 season.

GOALIES: Sophomore Gordon Defiel and freshman Nick Kossoff have split time in goal for the Lakers.

Defiel is 4-8-3 in 15 games, posting a 2.65 goals-against average and a .919 save percentage.

Kossoff is 3-3-1 in eight games, posting a 1.74-goals-against and a .931 save percentage. He’s seventh nationally in goals-against. In the WCHA, he’s second in goals-against and third in save percentage.

Defiel stopped 70 of 72 shots against BG in November, and has a 1.45 goals-against and a .958 save percentage against BG in four career games. The Lakers are 1-1-2 in those games.

Kossoff and Defiel have split the team’s last three series.

DEFENSE: The Falcons lead the WCHA and are seventh nationally in goals allowed, 1.91 per game.

BG has allowed three or fewer goals in 20 of its 22 games this season. Including 16 straight games.

The Falcons are 8-2-5 when allowing two or fewer goals this season.

BOUNCING BACK: The Falcons are 4-0 after a loss this season.

ROAD WARRIORS: BG is 6-3 on the road, including a 4-2 mark in league games.

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Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined BGSUHockey.com after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. After providing another two years of the Falcon hockey coverage fans had grown to love over the past three decades, Kevin decided to hang up his notebook and is now enjoying the retired life. Please join us by sending Kevin a tweet and thank him for all the time he’s dedicated to BGSU hockey: @KGordonBG.

error: Please contact Todd@BGSUHockey.com for photo rights.