|BG hockey begins difficult stretch (11-04-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 08 November 2013 10:14|
Bowling Green's hockey team starts its toughest stretch of the season tonight.
The Falcons play six straight games against 18th-ranked Minnesota State and No. 19 Ferris State - the top two teams in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association coaches poll - and then face 14th-ranked Lake Superior.
BG plays Minnesota State four times, and Ferris and Lake Superior twice each. The only home series is Nov. 15-16 against Ferris.
The Falcons visit MSU tonight and Saturday night.
Lake Superior was eighth in the coaches poll, but is 4-1-1 overall.
The Falcons, fourth in the coaches poll, believe they can compete for the league title.
"We'll approach them like we approach any other game," BG coach Chris Bergeron said of the eight games. "We don't look at things in the big picture.
"Our focus is today, today, today. Our focus is on Mankato, not the next eight games."
TRUST: BG sophomore Tommy Burke leads the WCHA with a 1.92 goals-against average and is fifth in save percentage (.916), while freshman Tomas Sholl is fifth with a 2.26 goals-against and 10th with a .902 save percentage.
"All our goalies battle," BG forward Brent Tate said. "Two days a week, they're out there 45 minutes before practice getting better. They're usually the first ones in the locker room, stretching or getting stronger in the weight room. They always battle and they have a knack (liking) for the rink which is a good sign for us."
Burke and Sholl each have started four games.
"We have trust in them," Tate said. "If we take care of our job and do what we're supposed to do, we know they're going to do what they have to do. You trust the guy next to you. You trust the guy across from you that they're going to do their job extra shift, every period."
Sholl was recruited to replace four-year standout Andrew Hammond at some point.
"The coaches have given me a great opportunity," Sholl said. "I want to make the most of each opportunity, playing as hard as I can and focusing on game to game instead of the whole season. That makes it easier."
PP/PK: The Falcon special teams are much improved this season. The power play is tied for second in the WCHA (22.2 percent, 10-of-45) and the penalty-killing is sixth (83 percent, 39-of-47).
Last season, BG was at 13.7 percent on the power play and at 76.4 on the penalty-kill.
"It takes the pressure off of everybody 5-on-5," Bergeron said. "Your power play should be contributing and your penalty-kill should be contributing. We're playing with more purpose (in those areas)."
REVIEW: The Mavericks return 12 forwards, six defensemen and two goalies from last season when they were 24-14-3 overall and fourth in the WCHA with a 16-11-1 record.
They also earned an NCAA playoff berth last season.
R√âSUM√â: MSU has won three of its last four games after opening the season with two losses at No. 6 Providence.
The Mavericks are coming off a split at Bemidji State last weekend. They're seventh in the league in scoring (2.33 goals per game) and sixth in defense (2.83 gpg).
"They're a team that can get up and down the ice … and they're deep," Bergeron said. "Their depth, whether it be by position or collectively, is something that's impressive."
STATS: Sophomore forward Bryce Gervais (three goals, one assist) and senior forward Johnny McInnis (one goal, three assists) share MSU's scoring lead.
Sophomore Stephon Williams is the No. 1 goalie, posting a 2.92 goals-against average and an .882 save percentage in five games.
Junior forward Matt Leitner has three assists in four games, but didn't play at Bemidji because of an upper-body injury. He was the WCHA preseason player of the year.
MSU has an excellent power play, although it's scoring at just 8.8 percent (3-of-34). Its penalty-killing is 26-of-31 (83.9 percent).
|Last Updated on Friday, 08 November 2013 10:23|
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