Bowling Green defenseman Connor McDonald is day-to-day with an upper-body injury, Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said Tuesday.
The sophomore was injured early in the second period of Saturday’s game against the University of Alaska in the Slater Family Ice Arena. He left the game and didn’t return.
McDonald is practicing, but isn’t allowed to have contact. He left the ice favoring his shoulder and arm. No decision has been made if he’ll play Friday or Saturday when the Falcons visit Ferris State in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series.
“He’s further along than I would have expected him to be, but we’re not going to get too far ahead of ourselves,” Bergeron said, adding McDonald’s status is day to day.
McDonald has played in 28 of BG’s 29 games, totaling a goal and three assists, and an on-ice rating of +3. The 6-foot-1, 181-pounder also provides a physical presence.
“If he can’t be physical, he won’t play,” Bergeron said. “I’m encouraged where he’s at today.”
If McDonald can’t play at Ferris, BG will be down to just five defensemen who have played in a game this season. Freshman defenseman Niko Coffman hasn’t played in a game, although he did play in BG’s exhibition.
Sophomore defenseman Adam Smith also is out with a broken bone in his hand.
“It would have to be the next-player-up mentality. There’s no doubt about that,” Bergeron said. “You lean more on Mark (Friedman) and Sean (Walker) in that situation just because they’re both capable of playing more minutes. “
INJURY UPDATES: Smith is expected to miss at least 3-5 more weeks because of his injury. He’s already missed three games after injuring the hand blocking a shot at Minnesota State Jan. 13.
“He’s progressing nicely, but you have to wait for the bone to heal,” Bergeron said.
Sophomore forward Matt Meier will have an MRI for his upper-body injury, Bergeron said. He’s missed the last four games after being injured during practice.
NEXT: The Falcons will attempt to enhance their spot in the WCHA standings at Ferris. They’re third in the league with 35 points, one ahead of Minnesota State, seven ahead of fifth-place Lake Superior and eight ahead of sixth-place Alaska.
Seventh-place Ferris is only nine points behind the Falcons. MSU, Lake Superior, Ferris and Alaska all have played two fewer games than BG.
“We are talking about the standings,” Bergeron said. “We are talking about home ice in the first round. We’d be doing a disservice to our team not talking and thinking about those things.”
The top eight teams in the WCHA qualify for the playoffs, with the top four teams hosting best-of-3 quarterfinal series.
“This is the next opportunity, and we’re running out of opportunities,” Bergeron said. “We’ve got seven games guaranteed. Hopefully, we’ll make the playoffs, which would give us nine or 10. Our focus is going to be the next opportunity, and let’s not take it for granted. Let’s try to give us the best opportunity we can to win.”
ROAD TRIP: BG’s series at Ferris marks its final road trip of the regular season.
The Falcons play their final five games at home, including their final two WCHA series.
OFFENSE: The Falcons struggled to score in their split with Alaska, even though they had 61 shots on goal and 128 attempted shots in the series. BG scored just four goals, two coming in Saturday’s 2-1 overtime victory.
“We had chances, and we didn’t score enough,” Bergeron said. “That puts a lot of pressure on your defense. It puts a lot of pressure on your goalie. I’d like to see some of those pucks go in.”
PENALTIES: Although BG is fifth in the league in penalty minutes per game (15.5), it had to kill six penalties against Alaska Saturday.
“I can live with three or in that range,” Bergeron said. “But the message to the team is undisciplined penalties is something we take very seriously. I don’t think any of the six were undisciplined, but six is too many.”
The Falcons also lost significant power-play time in both games because they were penalized four times when they had the man advantage. One of Friday’s penalties cost BG a 5 on-3 advantage or even a 6 on 3 during the final minute of a 2-1 loss.
BG also killed off two lengthy 5 on 3s in the series, the first for the full two minutes and the second for 1:40. The Falcons didn’t allow a power-play goal in the series, holding Alaska scoreless on all 10 of its attempts with the extra man.
FERRIS: The Bulldogs are coming off a split at WCHA leader and 20th-ranked Bemidji State. Ferris ended a seven-game unbeaten streak (0-4-3) with a 5-2 win Friday before Bemidji rallied for a 5-1 win Saturday.
“They’re going to be hungry. It’s going to be a real competitive series,” Bergeron said. “A good weekend for them, all of a sudden, they’re right where they want to be in terms of home ice in the first round. Good weekend for us, we can widen the gap a little bit.”
Ferris is 8-15-4 overall and 7-10-3-2 in the league. The Bulldogs were fourth in both the WCHA coaches and media polls.
SERIES: The Falcons are 61-58-12 all-time against Ferris, including a November split in the SFIA. BG posted a 4-1 win in Game 1, but Ferris recorded a 3-1 victory in Game 2.
TV: Friday’s BG-Ferris game starts at 8:37 p.m., allowing American Sports Network to show the game live.