|BG faces another key series (01-29-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 29 January 2014 09:34|
Bowling Green faces its next most important series of the season this weekend.
The Falcons host Michigan Tech as both teams attempt to improve their position in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
BG is third in the WCHA with 23 points, trailing first-place Ferris State with 28 and second-place Minnesota State with 24. The Falcons have played two more games than Ferris and MSU.
Although Tech is in a three-way tie for seventh in the 10-team league with 16 points, it only trails fourth-place Alaska-Anchorage by five points.
The top eight teams in the league qualify for the playoffs, with the first four hosting first-round series.
"This is the time of the year where preparation gets old for the guys because it's fairly consistent," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "They know what to expect each day. You have to really rely on your older guys that they're staying upbeat and positive for practice."
The Falcons are 5-1-1 in their last seven games overall and 5-1-2 in their last eight league games.
"What we're preparing for is a huge series against a team that is really, really good," Bergeron said.
REMATCH: BG didn't play well at Tech Dec. 13-14, but outstanding goaltending by Tommy Burke enabled the Falcons to earn a 3-2 win and a 4-4 tie. Burke stopped 79-of-85 shots in the series.
BG only played well during seven minutes in that series - the final two minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime in Game 2.
The Falcons scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation to earn the tie.
"They took it to us as well as any team had during the first half," Bergeron said. "We have to be much better than we were up there from a process perspective. More times than not, the process will mirror the result and our process wasn't great when we were up there."
TECH: The Huskies, third in the league coaches poll, are 8-14-6 overall and 6-8-4 in the league. They're second in the league in goals allowed (2.36 per game), but next-to-last in scoring (2.0 per game).
"(Tech) is really good," Bergeron said. "They're in every game. They're fighting, scratching. They've got good players at every position.
Through a scheduling quirk, Tech's last four games have been against Ferris.
The Huskies lost 1-0, 3-2 at Ferris Jan. 10-11 and split at home last weekend, winning 3-2 in Game 1 and losing 3-0 in Game 2.
CLOSE CALLS: Tech has played 14 straight games decided by one or zero goals, going 4-5-5 in that span.
Only seven of Tech's 28 games have been decided by more than one goal.
HONOREE: BG's Mark Cooper is the WCHA offensive player of the week.
The sophomore forward had two goals and two assists in a split against Lake Superior last weekend. He also had 10 shots on goal and an on-ice rating of plus-3.
HOME ICE: The series finishes a six-game home stand for BG.
The Falcons are 8-3-2 overall at home, including a 6-3-1 mark in league play.
DEFENSE: Bergeron was happy with BG's defense corps during the team's 6-2 win over Lake Superior last Saturday, but added the group still has room to improve.
"I still think we want to complicate things a little bit on breakouts and getting the puck going north," Bergeron said. "We want to give too much time and space to teams (whether it be in the defensive zone or off the rush), We need our (defensemen) to ... keep it simple, get the puck going north and then defend."
The Falcons are allowing just 2.46 goals per game, third-best in the league.
HELLO AGAIN: Tech, a member of the now-defunct Central Collegiate Hockey Association from 1981-84, is playing in Ohio for the first time since Jan. 13-14, 1984 when it visited Miami.
Tech hasn't played in BG since Oct. 28-29,1983.
BREAK: After facing Tech, BG plays just one league series the next three weekends - Feb. 14-15 at Alaska-Anchorage.
BG is off Feb. 7-8, and Feb. 22, and hosts the U.S. Under-18 National Team in an exhibition Feb. 21.
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