Bowling Green suffered no emotional hangover from its series against Michigan Tech, Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said Tuesday.
The Falcons had a chance to move into sole possession of first place in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association with a sweep of the series, but Tech earned a 4-1 victory Saturday after BG rallied from a two-goal deficit in the final eight minutes Friday to gain a 4-4 tie.
“It almost seemed like it was more from a coaching staff perspective than it was the players Monday morning,” said Bergeron, who thought the coaching staff would be in damage control mode because of the disappointment the series brought.
“The sun was up and it’s a new day. Do they remember it was a difficult Saturday night? Yes. But it didn’t seem to have any lingering effects.”
The Falcons have another chance to gain a share of the WCHA lead this weekend when they travel to league leading and 18th-ranked Minnesota. The Mavericks own first place with 29 points, followed by the No. 19 Falcons with 27 and Tech with 25.
All three teams have eight league games remaining. Tech hosts Lake Superior this weekend.
“They came with a focus, and they were good in the weight room and then it was a typical Monday practice,” Bergeron said. “In hindsight, it was probably more from a coaching staff perspective than it was from a player perspective. Everything was fine.”
Resiliency has been one of BG’s strengths since Bergeron became the head coach in April 2010.
“It’s what I expected, the more I think about it, the resiliency,” Bergeron said. “They just show up and do their thing every day.”
The Falcons were uncharacteristically rattled by two Tech goals in Saturday’s loss.
The Huskies’ Brent Baltus tied the game 1-1 with eight seconds left in the period and Reid Sturos put Tech ahead for good with a rare 3 on 5 short-handed goal with 6:38 to go in the second period. Both came on 2 on 1 rushes, the first after a neutral-zone turnover and the second after a blocked shot.
“Normally, those two or three plays, whether we’re on the good side of the bad side, don’t affect the rest of the game for us,” Bergeron said. “We didn’t have a very good third period after the couple of the goals we gave up to make it a 3-1 game.
“That was the bottom line. That was the disappointing part. But by no means did our guys show any effects of that Monday morning.”
PREPARATION: Minnesota State is 14-9-5 overall and 12-3-5 in the WCHA, including a 3-2 win over Minnesota and a 5-4 loss to No. 3 St. Cloud in the North Star College Cup in St. Paul, Minn. The Mavericks were the coaches preseason pick to win the league.
“I don’t know any other way than to continue to talk about executing, continue to talk about details and purpose to your play, and, ultimately, continue to focus on the process,” Bergeron said.
The Falcons are 15-8-6, 11-4-5.
“We’re not going to change right now, and I’m not going to sit back and not play the way we want to play this weekend because we don’t bad things to happen or we’re not going to simplify our game to the point where we’re not making hockey plays,” Bergeron said.
BG and Minnesota State played two 2-2 ties in the Ice Arena Dec. 4-5.
“We’re going to continue to do the things we’ve done all year long,” Bergeron said. “When we talk to our players about not getting too high or too lower in games, let’s try not to do that within weekends. Within a game, there’s a bad call, there’s a good call, there’s a goal for, goal against, we don’t want to be like a roller coaster with our emotions.
“I think the same thing about in between games and in between weekends. The focus is we need to execute at a higher level. We’re playing teams in Michigan Tech and Minnesota State this week that will hurt you if you don’t. It’s that simple.”
DEFENSE: The Falcons had a rare tough weekend defensively as a team against Tech, which broke BG’s string of 21 straight games of allowing two or fewer goals.
Falcon goalie Chris Nell stopped just 50 of 57 shots in the series for an .877 save percentage.
The Falcons still are sixth nationally in goals allowed per game (2.00), while Minnesota State is ninth (2.21) and Tech is 10th (2.23).
Nell is fourth nationally with a 1.64 goals-against average and fifth with a .937 save percentage. He leads the WCHA in both categories.
PASS THE TYLENOL: The power play remains a major headache for the Falcons, who were 1 of 8 with the short-handed goal allowed against Tech.
Since scoring eight goals in a four-game span in November, the BG power play is 7 of 57 in its last 15 games.
PK: Tech’s power play was 2 of 3, ending BG’s streak of five straight games of not allowing a power-play goal. Over the last 12 games, the Falcon penalty-killing is 29 of 33 (87.8 percent).
PAIRWISE: The Falcons are 25th 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 teams, which means the top 16 teams in the Pairwise should advance to the nationals.
However, the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey have no teams in the top 16 of the Pairwise, meaning the 15th and 16th teams would not make the NCAAs as of today.
Minnesota State, which is tied for 17th, is the WCHA’s highest-ranked team in the Pairwise. Tech is tied for 21st with Robert Morris, the highest-ranked team from Atlantic Hockey.
Part of the reason for the WCHA’s Pairwise troubles is a 26-33-9 record in nonleague play, including a 3-18-2 record against the National Collegiate Hockey Association.
The WCHA’s victories against the NCHC came when Alabama-Huntsville beat Colorado College, and Bemidji and Northern Michigan both beat Minnesota-Duluth.
BG is 0-3 against the NCHC, losing twice to Western Michigan and once to Miami. The Falcons host Miami Feb. 12. The Falcons are 4-4-1 in nonleague games.
The WCHA is 3-0-1 against Atlantic Hockey, 10-8-5 against the Big Ten, 4-2-1 against the Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference, 3-2 against Hockey East and 3-3 against independent Arizona State.