Bowling Green no longer controls its fate in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Falcons will need help if they’re to host a first round playoff series.
They hold the fourth and final home-ice berth going into the final three weekends of the regular season.
The Falcons are fourth in the league with 38 points, eight ahead of fifth-place Alaska (Fairbanks), and nine ahead of sixth-place Ferris State and Lake Superior.
But BG has only two league games remaining, Feb. 24-25 at home against Alabama-Huntsville. Alaska, Ferris and Lake Superior all have six games left.
The Falcons can finish league play with a maximum of 44 points. The maximum is 48 for Alaska, and 47 for Ferris and Lake Superior.
“It’s not a very good spot to be in because we can’t control it,” Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said.
BG still can finish third in the WCHA. The Falcons trail Minnesota State by four points, but the Mavericks have two games in hand.
The Falcons host Mercyhurst Saturday night at 5:07 in a non-league game and are off the weekend of Feb. 17-18. The Mercyhurst contest is part of the celebration for the 50th anniversary of the BGSU Ice Arena and the Slater Family Ice Arena.
REST: The Falcons’ weekend off will be just their second of the season since playing their exhibition game Oct. 1, the other off weekend coming at Christmas.
But the first break was barely a week long as it came after BG played in Fairbanks Dec. 16-17, and the Falcons then lost break time to return to BG, and to travel to and from home for Christmas. They returned to BG Dec. 26.
The Falcons took their usual Monday off this week. Bergeron is planning on giving the team at least Monday and Tuesday off next week, regardless of the result of the Mercyhurst game. The team doesn’t practice on Sundays.
“Our group, not only are they mentally tired, but they’re mentally frustrated,” Bergeron said. “They’re mentally drained. They’re mentally beat up because of the results. Being away from it for a little bit is a good thing. I’m hoping it’s a good thing. I believe it is the right thing to do.”
BG was picked to win the WCHA in separate polls of coaches and media, but it’s only 14-17-2 overall and 12-13-1-1 in the league.
The Falcons were 6-3-1 in the WCHA after going 5-0-1 during their final three series in November. But BG is only 6-10 in the WCHA since, including a 2-5 record in its last seven games with three straight losses.
BG didn’t score at home against Northern Michigan last weekend, losing 3-0 and 2-0.
“After the game Saturday, I thought (the break) came at a bad time because you want to get back playing, and you want to get back to feeling good about how you’re playing,” Bergeron said. “We have an opportunity Saturday to get back to playing and feel good about how we’re playing.
“Forget about what’s gone on result-wise, mentally and physically, our team needs a rest. I hope this rest comes at a good time. There’s not much hockey left to be played, so let’s not take it for granted. Hopefully, a little break from games will remind our guys there’s not many games left and let’s not take any of those games for granted.
“I don’t think (the Mercyhurst game) is any more important than any other game. We want to win every game. We focus on what we need to do to win each and every game. This Saturday will be no different.”
HEALING: Falcon defenseman Adam Smith could play against Mercyhurst, Bergeron said. The sophomore has missed the last six games with a broken finger suffered Jan. 14 at Minnesota State.
Smith then suffered an upper-body injury that has “worked itself out,” Bergeron said. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder is practicing, but is still wearing a red jersey in practice to signify no contact.
“He says he feels good, and he’s ready to make an impact and get back out there. That’s his message to me today,” Bergeron said. “Hopefully, that’s an indication of where he’s at physically. I know it’s an indication of where he’s at mentally. He wants to get back out there and help.”
Bergeron said the Falcons would be cautious about Smith’s return for Mercyhurst with BG being off the following weekend. A decision will be made after Friday’s practice, Bergeron said.
“If being cautious isn’t necessary, getting him a non-conference game to get back in the swing of game situations, knowing there are a bunch of real important conference games coming up, is not a bad way to look at it, either,” Bergeron said. “I don’t want to put him in harm’s way. We don’t want to jeopardize the last three weeks and all that’s happened in terms of getting him better.”
“The best version of Adam Smith helps us wins games,” Bergeron added. “Hopefully, he’s close (to returning).”
MORE INJURIES: BG junior forward Jakob Reichert remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury that has caused him to miss the last three games. Sophomore forward Matt Meier (upper-body injury) already is out for the season.