Bowling Green is looking to generate more offense.
Part of the reason the Falcons are averaging just 2.25 goals per game is their 5-on-5 play.
They’ve scored just 10 goals with the teams at full strength entering this weekend’s Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against Ferris State in the Ice Arena.
BG has scored 18 goals in eight games this season, including six power-play goals and two short-handed goals.
The Falcons are seventh in the league in scoring and eighth in shots on goal. They’re averaging 27.1 shots per game.
“I’d like to see us be a little bit more consistent with our second and third effort,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said of the team’s 5-on-5 play. “When we are a second- and third-effort team, we’re creating second and third opportunities in the (offensive zone), and then it’s a 20-, 25-second shift (in the offensive zone) and not a five-second shift, and now, we’re backchecking. I’d like to see us do a little bit better job there.”
Bergeron also said the Falcons need to improve their breakouts from the defensive zone and entries into the offensive zone. BG is at its best when it possesses the puck in the offensive zone for sustained periods. The possession then leads to scoring chances and goals.
Although the Falcons scored four goals in last Saturday’s victory at Miami, they’ve scored one or two goals five times. BG is 1-6-1 overall and 1-4-1 in the WCHA.
“I’d like to see us do a little bit better job of using what’s there on our exits and our entries, so we don’t have to dump a puck in and go get it,” Bergeron said. “There’s options there we’re just not using. Then, we end up with that 30-second shift. You end up chasing your tail around a little versus playing in the offensive zone because you’ve done the right thing on the exit and you’ve done the right thing on the entry. Now, you’re in their zone with possession, and now you get into the second and third effort.”
OFFENSE II: As the Falcons were hoping, their defense corps has contributed offensively this season.
Mark Friedman and Sean Walker each have three goals and two assists, while Alec Rauhauser has one goal and one assist, and Chris Pohlkamp has two assists.
But BG has been hurt by its power play which has scored just six goals in 57 attempts for a 10.5 percent conversion rate.
FERRIS: The Bulldogs also have had a difficult start, but they’re coming off a 4-3 win at 10th-ranked Minnesota State last weekend. Ferris, fourth in the WCHA coaches poll, is 1-7-1, 1-4-1-1.
The Bulldogs traditionally are strong defensively and one of the hardest-working teams in the league. They’re allowing 3.5 goals per game, eighth in the league. But Ferris is second in penalty-killing at 87.1 percent, killing off 27 of its 31 short-handed situations.
“I’m looking for a team that hasn’t started the way they wanted, and they’re going to do a bunch to make it better,” Bergeron said. “They’re going to work. They’re going to keep working, and they’re going to defend hard. It’s a team that’s hard to create a whole bunch of offense against. It commits to defending and competing.”
The Bulldog defense corps has four freshmen who have played regularly. Senior Ryan Lowney is the team’s only senior defenseman. Ferris’ roster consists of nine freshmen, eight sophomores, seven juniors and four seniors.
Sophomore Darren Smith and freshman Justin Kapelmaster have split time in goal.
Smith has a 3.58 goals-against average and an .885 save percentage in eight games. Kapelmaster has a 2.13 goals-against and a .919 save percentage in two games. Kapelmaster made his first career start in the win at Minnesota State, stopping 28 shots.
MORE THAN DEFENSE: Although Ferris has built its brand with hard work and solid defense, the Bulldogs have plenty of firepower offensively.
Senior forward Gerald Mayhew, who was a second-team all-league honoree last season, leads the Bulldogs. He has four goals and three assists in five games. The 5-foot-10, 173-pounder had two goals and two assists in the two games at Minnesota State after missing four games with an injury.
“He’s as good a forward has we have in our league,” Bergeron said. “I like his skill set and his ability to create offense.”
Redshirt freshman Craig Pefley is tied for the WCHA scoring lead with 10 points. He has two goals and eight assists in nine games. Corey Mackin has two goals and two assists in eight games. The sophomore forward was the WCHA’s rookie of the year last season.
Ferris is averaging 2.67 goals per game, tied with Bemidji State and Tech for fourth in the league.
The Bulldog power play is fifth in the league at 16.1 percent, scoring five goals in 31 attempts.
FACEOFFS: BG’s Brett D’Andrea is fourth in the league in faceoffs won at 61.5 percent. The junior forward has won 30 of his 48 faceoffs. Michigan Tech’s Alex Smith leads the WCHA at 63.1 percent, followed by Ferris’ Jason Tackett at 62.3 percent and Lake Superior’s J.T. Henke at 61.8 percent.
SERIES: The Falcons are 60-57-11 against Ferris all-time, including a 5-1 record in the last six meetings and a 6-3-1 record in the last 10 games.
BG posted a 4-3, 6-2 sweep of Ferris in the Ice Arena last season.