Bowling Green is expecting to score by committee again this season.
But if there is going to be a chairman of the scoring committee, it probably would be one of the team’s three senior forwards — Kevin Dufour, Pierre-Luc Mercier and Matt Pohlkamp.
The Falcons were second in the league overall last season in scoring, averaging 2.81 goals per game. They averaged 2.89 goals in WCHA league games only, third-best in the league.
Leading scorer Mark Cooper and four-year contributors Brent Tate and Murphy all graduated, but the next 10 leading scorers after Cooper all return. Cooper had a team-best 16 goals last season and also had 16 assists in 42 games.
“You look at those three seniors to be the leaders with a lot of other guys chipping in,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said.
Dufour, Mercier and Pohlkamp have been contributors offensively during their first three seasons, and often have been effective when they’ve skated on the same line.
Pohlkamp had eight goals and 16 assists in 42 games last season, while Dufour had 14 goals and eight assists in 40 games, and Mercier added four goals and 12 assists in 40 games.
The Falcons were counting on Brandon Hawkins, who had 13 goals and 15 assists in 41 games last season, to be one of their top scorers this season. But he’s sidelined indefinitely because of an ankle injury suffered during off-ice training in August before returning to school.
Stephen Baylis also could be an offensive force for the Falcons. The sophomore forward had nine goals and 13 assists in 35 games as a freshman. He played well late in the season after sitting out the first six games because of an NCAA suspension for having Canadian Major Hockey experience. He then had a slow adjustment to college hockey.
BG’s four first-year forwards also are expected to contribute offensively this season.
“I’d like to see Stephen Baylis with a full year under his belt,” Bergeron said. “At some point, he will be a chairman of that offense. But I don’t know if he’s ready for that just yet nor should he be. He’s a sophomore. He hasn’t played one game of his sophomore year.”
The Falcons also will rely on their defensemen to generate offense. Junior Mark Friedman and senior Sean Walker combined for 11 goals and 35 assists last season, and sophomores Connor McDonald, Chris Pohlkamp and Adam Smith have an offensive presence. And freshmen defensemen Jacob Dalton, Alec Rauhauser and Niko Coffman are being counted upon offensively.
“Part of that committee is going to be Sean Walker, Mark Friedman, the rest of the (defense),” Bergeron said. “These are guys who look at the game from an offensive perspective without giving up defense. We’re going to defend, and we’re going to have strong goaltending, but we’re going to need contributions from our defensemen on offense, and that will help us with the creation of offense.”
CONSISTENCY: Although Dufour and Mercier have been regulars, they’re still looking to play consistently well. Both were healthy scratches at times last season.
Dufour, who is 6-foot, 195 pounds, is a good skater and a puck-possession player. Mercier (6-1, 178) is a physical player who also fares well at the puck-possession game.
“A consistent effort is something we have to demand from seniors,” Bergeron said. “These guys have been (healthy scratches) at times, it hasn’t been a lot, to try to get more out of them. We just need more of a consistent effort on a daily basis, and they know that.”
CRACKDOWN: Bergeron is pleased with the NCAA’s and the WCHA’s crackdown on interference and obstruction this season, in order to generate more scoring.
“It’s good for college hockey,” Bergeron said. “I agree with getting rid of the obstruction, the hooking and the holding.”
The crackdown will be an adjustment for the players, beginning with Saturday’s noon exhibition against Windsor in the Ice Arena.
“Like everybody else, our guys are going to have to adjust,” Bergeron said. “If they don’t, they’ll find themselves watching until they do. You can’t afford to be killing penalties all night.”
The crackdown could see each team receiving as many as nine or 10 power plays in a game early in the season, instead of the usual four or five.
“You better have your special teams ready early because you know what it’s going to be,” Bergeron said. “Special teams will be even more key early. Special teams win games, whether it’s the playoffs or the regular season. We’re going to have to make sure we’re on top of our special teams.”
RADIO: Falcon games will be broadcast on two Toledo radio stations this season, WTOD/WQQO-HD2, 100.7 FM, and WLQR, 106.5 FM. The games will continue to be broadcast by WBGU, 88.1 FM.