|BG controls where it finishes in WCHA (01-03-14)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 03 January 2014 09:50|
Bowling Green faces a difficult challenge if it hopes to finish first or second in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Falcons are tied with Bemidji State for third place in the league with 14 points, eight behind leader Ferris State and four behind second-place Minnesota State.
But Ferris and MSU each have played two fewer games than BG and Bemidji.
BG returns to league play tonight and Saturday when it visits Alabama-Huntsville.
Ferris State leads the league with a 10-0-2 record and 22 points, while Minnesota State is second at 9-3 and 18 points.
"I haven't given that much thought," BG coach Chris Bergeron said of catching Ferris and MSU. "Ferris has put themselves in a great spot and (MSU) is playing great hockey."
The Falcons were 2-3-1 against Ferris and MSU, and don't play either team during the second half.
Five of the six games were decided by one goal, with four going into overtime.
"What I've thought more about is how we match up against those two teams," Bergeron said. "We match up pretty well against both of those teams.
"Ultimately, if we play well enough to catch either one or both of those teams, then good for us. But our focus is us, take advantage of the home games and on the road. Our focus is us. It's always been us and will always be us."
The Falcons are 9-9-4 overall and 6-6-2 in the WCHA. Huntsville is 1-19, 1-11, but split at BG Dec. 6-7.
Right behind BG and Bemidji are Lake Superior, Michigan Tech and Alaska-Anchorage, each with 12 points.
BG has remaining home series against Bemidji, Lake Superior and Tech, and a series at Anchorage. The top four teams in the league host first-round series.
"The good thing is we control where we'll finish," Bergeron said.
BACK TO WORK: The Falcons have had a full week of practice to prepare for UAH.
BG had just one practice and one pre-game skate before playing two games last weekend in the Three Rivers Classic. The tournament came after an 11-day break for the Falcons.
"We've got to get back to the process, the details of our game, the conditioning," Bergeron said. "Where we're at right now is pretty good."
PENALTIES: The Falcons are facing an average of just 4.7 power plays per game overall and in league play, but penalties remain a problem.
BG's had to kill off a number of two-man advantages this season and has been penalized too many times when it's been on the power play.
"It comes down to our decisions," Bergeron said of BG's penalties. "It's really concerning. I'd really, really like it to become a player to player issue. As much as it's coming from me, coming from within (from the other players) can be a very strong message as well."
BG is fifth in the WCHA overall in penalty minutes at 15.4 minutes per game.
The Falcon power play is fifth in the league (18.3 percent, 19-of-104), while the BG penalty-killing is sixth (83.3 percent, 90-of-108).
UAH: In addition to posting a 4-3 overtime win at BG Dec. 7, the Chargers have lost six one-goal games. UAH is coming off 5-0, 3-2 losses at No. 13 Wisconsin last weekend.
"They've shown they can play with anybody," Bergeron said. "The confidence they have against us is deserved. They earned that."
STATS: The Chargers are last in the WCHA in goals scored (1.05 per game), goals allowed (4.25), power-play conversions (8.1 percent, 7-of-86) and penalty-killing (66.7 percent, 66-of-99).
UAH is sixth in the league in penalty minutes per game (14.5).
Freshman forward Matt Salhany leads UAH in scoring with eight points on two goals and six assists, while sophomore defenseman Frank Misuraca has one goal and five assists.
Freshmen Carmine Guerriero (3.51 goals-against average, .907 save percentage) and Matt Larose (4.93, .883) have split time in goal. Guerriero made 41 saves in the win at BG.
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