Bowling Green’s schedule this season has two distinct flavors.
The Falcons will play most of their pre-Christmas games on the road, and then spend most of the second half of the season at home.
Fourteen of the Falcons’ first 22 games are on the road. The stretch includes Western Collegiate Hockey Association trips to Bemidji State, Northern Michigan, Alabama-Huntsville, Lake Superior and Alaska (Fairbanks).
BG also has a two-game nonleague series at Miami. The teams played home-and-home series the last two seasons, but Miami needed an extra home game this season, Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said.
The Falcons then will play 10 of their final 14 games at home.
“This is the best we could do,” said Bergeron, who is in his seventh season. “It wasn’t supposed to be that on paper, but it ended up being that to try to make the travel better.”
The original schedule had the Falcons visiting Bemidji and Alaska on back-to-back weekends in February, but Bergeron didn’t want those two long trips on back-to-back weekends.
The Bemidji series was moved to Oct. 7-8, and will open the season for both teams.
The WCHA then announced May 17 all of its league playoff games would be moved to campus sites, effective this season.
With no Final Five and an extra week added to the playoffs, the last weekend of regular-season games on March 3-4 was moved to Feb. 24-25, and the games on Feb. 24-25 had to be switched to earlier in the season. The Falcons moved their series at Alaska (Fairbanks) to Dec. 16-17.
“That makes the first half a bear in terms of travel,” Bergeron said of the Bemidji and Alaska series being moved.
The Falcons are 21-13-4 on the road the last two seasons, including a 10-8-1 record last season.
But BG should return nine of its 12 forwards , five of its six defensemen and its starting goalie from last season’s WCHA semifinal against Minnesota State.
“We’re going to have some older people next year,” Bergeron said. “We’re going to have a team that knows how to play on the road and has won the road, and we’re going to have to act like it. There’s no doubt about that.”
If BG survives the first half road-heavy schedule, it could benefit from some home cooking during the second half. The second half schedule includes no road games in February, home series with Northern Michigan and Alabama-Huntsville, a single nonleague home game against Mercyhurst and an off weekend.
BG is 23-10-6 in the Ice Arena the last two seasons, including an 11-5-5 record last season.
“It does set up for a good stretch at home in the second half,” Bergeron said.
Of course, the second half wasn’t kind to BG last season. The Falcons were 11-11-1 overall and 8-5-1 in the league after Christmas, including a split at last-place Alabama-Huntsville during the final weekend to cost them a share of the WCHA championship.
Instead, Michigan Tech and Minnesota State shared first place, with BG finishing third for the third straight season.
“The second half of the year has got to be our focus,” Bergeron said. “That’s unacceptable. That’s unacceptable. We have to find a way to be a better team during the second half of the year. Hopefully, playing a bunch of home games will help us with that.”
MORE MIAMI: In return for playing two games at Miami this season, the Falcons will host the RedHawks in a two-game series during the 2017-18 season, Bergeron said.
HOME-AND-HOME: BG’s home games this season against the Rochester (N.Y.) Institute of Technology and Mercyhurst are part of home-and-home contracts.
The RIT game finishes the contract between the two schools. The Falcons visited RIT last season.
The Falcons’ return game at Mercyhurst hasn’t been scheduled, Bergeron said.
TWO OR FOUR: The Falcons’ 28 WCHA games consist of four games each against five opponents and two games each against four opponents.
BG plays four games (two home, two away) against Ferris State, Northern, Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji State and Alaska. The Falcons have home series against Alaska-Anchorage and Michigan Tech, and road series against Lake Superior and Minnesota State.
The Falcons play Alabama-Huntsville four times every season since the two are rivalry partners.
The other rivalry pairings are Ferris-Lake Superior, Northern-Michigan Tech, Bemidji-Minnesota State and the two Alaska schools.