Bowling Green is struggling with consistency.
The Falcons have played well overall this season, but they’re still having the occasional games where they don’t play well.
Their latest inconsistency came during last weekend’s split at Lake Superior.
BG played well Friday in a 3-1 victory, but it didn’t play well a 1-0 overtime loss in the series finale.
The Falcons are 13-6-5 overall and 9-3-4 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association as they head to Miami for a single nonleague game Saturday night. The loss to Lake Superior dropped the Falcons out of a tie for first place in the WCHA.
BG also had a disappointing performance Jan. 3 in a 3-2 home loss to Clarkson.
“We’ve struggled with wrapping our arms around each opportunity as it’s own separate thing because we’re really good one night and the next night we’re not,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
“We’re focusing on the mind-set this is another opportunity come Saturday night. It’s up to the individual player and the individual person in that locker room to make sure their mind-set is right.”
The inconsistency has come in all facets of BG’s play. The team’s play in practice also has been inconsistent, Bergeron said.
“You can’t have inconsistent play and expect to be where you want to be, and that starts with the individual and then it goes to the collective, whether it’s 5 on 5, 4 on 5 or 5 on 4,” said Bergeron, whose team is striving to win WCHA regular-season and playoff championships, and advance to the NCAA playoffs. “It’s been up and down.”
WELCOME BACK: BG goalie Chris Nell returned against Lake Superior last weekend after suffering a head injury Dec. 30 against Western Michigan. He stopped 55 of 57 shots in the series, and helped the Falcons hold Lake Superior scoreless on all six of its power-play attempts.
Nell, who has been BG’s best and most consistent player, is second nationally with a 1.37 goals-against average and a .947 percentage. He’s 9-3-5 in 19 games.
“It was nice to have him back,” Bergeron said. “He was on top of his game both nights. It’s good to see. We’re going to need that.”
In WCHA games only, Nell is 8-2-4 in 15 games, posting a 1.36 goals-against and a .947 save percentage.
North Dakota sophomore Cam Johnson leads the country with a 1.07 goals-against and a .957 save percentage. He’s 9-0-1 in 12 games, including four shutouts.
PK: The Falcon penalty-killing was perfect at Lake Superior to improve to 82.8 percent this season.
“We didn’t seem to give up a whole lot,” Bergeron said. “We kept them out of our zone for the most part and when they were in our zone, we looked like we had some purpose to what we were doing.”
BG hasn’t allowed a power-play goal in five of the last seven games, going 18 of 20 in that span.
WCHA: While the Falcons are playing a nonleague game this weekend, the marquee series in the WCHA this weekend sends No. 19 Minnesota State to Michigan Tech.
Minnesota State leads with the league with 24 points, followed by BG with 22 and Tech with 19.
All three teams have 12 of their 28 league games remaining. The Falcons still host Tech Jan. 29-30 and visit Minnesota State Feb. 5-6.
HOMECOMING: Miami University and the city of Oxford remain special to Bergeron, who played for the RedHawks and later was an assistant coach at the school for 10 seasons before being named BG’s head coach in April, 2010.
When Bergeron came to BG, the Falcons had one of the worst programs in college hockey and Miami was among the best in the country. Now, BG is starting to compete for league championships and a berth in the NCAAs.
“We’re going there with a team that is very competitive,” Bergeron said when asked about the difference between going to Miami now, compared to six seasons ago. “Maybe my first couple years, I was a little insecure about the team we were going there with because they were that much better than us.”
Bergeron and his wife, Janis, still have many friends in Oxford. Their oldest son, Logan, was 6 months old when his dad was named an assistant at Miami. Their youngest son, Connor, was born in Oxford.
“I wanted to come (to BG) and do well, and I wanted to go back to Miami and show that we’re doing well here,” Bergeron said. “Now that we’ve got a team that is competitive with theirs, I’m a little less insecure what about is going on here.”
The teams split last season’s series, each game won by the home team by a 3-2 score.
“It was a good series last year, two good hockey games,“ Bergeron said. “I just felt like we belonged. I have strong, close personal ties to Oxford and Miami. Going there Saturday, with the team we’re going with, I’m proud of our team and our program and what we’ve done here.
“Whether we win or lose, we have a competitive team. I know we have a competitive team. That’s the difference to me today than six years ago.”
HOMECOMING II: Falcon assistant coach Barry Schutte played for the RedHawks and was the director of Miami’s Goggin Ice Arena when he became an assistant coach at BG. He’s been at BG for six seasons.
WHY: The Falcons and Miami are playing single games on two different weekends, instead of having a two-game series one weekend and an off weekend the other. BG hosts Miami Feb. 12.
“We thought instead of having a weekend off, we thought it would be better to have one game versus two,” Bergeron said of the conversations between himself and the Miami coaching staff.
The teams have one game in each of those weekends in an effort to remain sharp, but they’ll receive some rest from the usual two-game weekend. Both teams play in a league with long travel.
TV: The BG-Miami game will be televised live by Time-Warner Cable Sports Channel, channel 1311.