Bowling Green’s progress during the last three games came to a screeching halt Saturday night in the Ice Arena.
The Falcons didn’t compete in a 3-1 loss to Ferris State.
The loss dropped the Falcons to 2-7-1 overall and 1-3 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association on a night they had a chance to reach the .500 mark in the league and post their third straight victory overall.
The Falcons had played well and competed hard Friday in a 4-1 win over Ferris, dominating most of the game en route to a 34-15 edge in shots on goal.
But in Game 2 of the series, Ferris rebounded to play well and outworked for the Falcons. BG held a 27-25 margin in shots, but generated little sustained pressure and few quality scoring chances.
“The emotion right now is disappointment,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said when asked to assess the weekend as a whole. “I want the dust to settle a bit. I want to give it some good thought, but we’re disappointed. I don’t think we gave ourselves much of the chance because of the way we competed.
“From an execution standpoint, we were close. On a night when you’re just close execution-wise, you really have to compete hard.”
Ferris is 2-8-1 overall and 2-5-1 in the league after earning a split in a matchup of underachieving teams. The Falcons were the coaches pick to win the WCHA championship, while Ferris was fourth in the coaches poll after winning the league playoff championship last season.
“Our compete, our engagement, both mental and physical, our intensity was second tonight,” Bergeron said. “You get what you get when you don’t do those things and you’re not as engaged mentally and physically as you need to be. That’s what they did better than us better tonight.”
BG was coming off a solid weekend in a split at Miami where it worked hard and played well.
“The last three games, our competition level was really high,” Bergeron said. “I’m disappointed because of that. We talked about an identity. We talk about no matter whats, and we say we’re going to be competitive, we’re going to be engaged, mentally and physically, no matter what, and tonight we weren’t.”
The Falcons started the season 0-6-1 overall and 0-2 in the league.
“That slow start really stung,” Falcon senior captain Sean Walker said. “We started to string a couple games together. We’re trying to be positive. We have to come back next week ready to go. It’s definitely frustrating. We know if we play our game and do our job, we’ll be fine.”
SPECIAL TEAMS: The Falcons lost the special teams in a big way.
The BG power play was 0-of-8 and allowed a short-handed goal, while Ferris’ power play was 1-of-8.
The special-teams goals enabled Ferris to pull away from a 1-1 tie. Andrew Dorantes’ back-door goal on the power play gave Ferris at 2-1 lead at 12:11 of the second period, while Gerald Mayhew’s short-handed goal on a breakaway increased the lead to 3-1 at 3:21 of the third period.
BG also failed to score during the game’s final 3:52 with a 6-on-5 advantage after it pulled goalie Chris Nell for the extra attacker.
“I didn’t think our effort was great on the power play, but the effort on the power play was a mirror effort of our 5-on-5, too,” Bergeron said. “Our effort tonight wasn’t great. The only situation where we had some urgency and desperation was on the penalty kill, especially that 5-on-3, 5-on-4. There’s no excuse for that.”
The Falcons scored twice on five power-play attempts Friday, but they had only nine shots in 12:37 with the extra man Saturday.
“What was going on the power play was effort to start,” Bergeron said. “We got out-competed which is a compliment to Ferris, for sure.”
“They’ve got a pretty good penalty-kill,” Walker said. “They’re really good at getting in shot lanes, but we have to be able to recognize that and change up our game plan.”
Ferris blocked 15 shots in the game, four coming against the BG power play.
The Falcon penalty-killing was 12 of 14 in the series.
PENALTIES: The Falcons were hurt by penalties for the second straight game.
Bergeron was especially unhappy over Frederick Letourneau’s major penalty for facemasking at 8:58 of the second period and Mark Friedman’s holding penalty just 43 seconds later.
Ferris’ Trevor Recktenwald went to the box with Letourneau for roughing, but the Bulldogs later had a two-man advantage for 44 seconds. The Falcons fought off the 5-on-3, but Dorantes later scored during the second half of the Letourneau penalty.
“We can not have, in a 1-1 game, a scrum happens, and we’re grabbing someone’s facemask, and then we take a poor penalty behind our net when we’re already down a man,” Bergeron said. “Just not the hockey we’ve become accustomed to in terms of discipline for sure. That has nothing do with the way it was called. Those were absolute penalties.
“Undisciplined, selfish penalties. That’s on me,” Bergeron said. “I need to be holding people accountable. Why you (a player) would change when there’s no reason to change? The reason would be is you take hockey away. That’s what has to happen.”
The Falcons had seven penalties for 17 minutes in the game and were short-handed for 11:21. Ferris had nine penalties, all minors.
Bergeron also was unhappy with Letourneau’s elbowing and goalie interference penalties Friday.
Penalties were a problem for the Falcons earlier this season, and those problems were compounded by an NCAA-mandated crackdown on interference and obstruction this season.
“That kills us,” Walker said. “That was a big part of the first eight games that really hurt us and again (tonight) discipline all over the ice really hurt us. We’ve got to make sure we have that in get or it’s going to hurt us throughout the year.”
FIRST GOAL: BG freshman forward Lukas Craggs scored his first goal Saturday.
LINEUP: The Falcons went with the usual 12 forwards and six defensemen Saturday after dressing 11 forwards and seven defensemen Friday.
Forwards Shane Bednard and Joe McKeown were inserted into the replacing, replacing forward Jakob Reichert and defenseman Jacob Dalton.