|BG hockey looking to next season (03-20-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 20 March 2013 09:52|
Bowling Green's already looking forward to next season.
The Falcons have shown steady growth during their final three seasons in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association as they prepare to join the Western Collegiate Hockey Association next season.
Ferris State of the CCHA and eighth-ranked Minnesota State (Mankato) figure to be the two best teams in the revamped WCHA entering the season. MSU is the only school of the revamped WCHA still playing.
The Falcons were 15-21-5 overall and 10-15-3 in the CCHA this season, losing two heart-breaking one-goal decisions at ninth-ranked Notre Dame in the CCHA quarterfinals last weekend.
The 15 wins overall were one more than last season and the 10 CCHA wins were five more than the previous season.
BG should be in the mix to finish in the top four of its new league.
"We're going to have to find a way to play with expectations," said Falcon coach Chris Bergeron, who is finishing his third season. "We haven't done that great. We're not sneaking up on anybody any more.
"We're older. We're deeper. And we have to learn to play with expectations. If we make progress next year on what we did this year, we should be a team in the discussion."
The Falcons will have a veteran team next season as they lose just four seniors.
But they must replace standout goalie Andrew Hammond and second-team All-CCHA defenseman Bobby Shea.
"That 20-win mark is a good mark to shoot for," Bergeron said. "There's no reason that isn't in the discussion for next year. I want the expectations to be high around here. I want the guys to demand greatness and not settle for OK or good.
"The next step is a big one and it's a hard one, but we've got the guys in place, we've got the culture in place and now we just have to execute it."
FINISH: BG was 13-12-2 after Thanksgiving.
The stretch included six games against No. 9 Notre Dame, two games each against No. 3 Miami and No. 12 Western Michigan, and one game against No. 15 Niagara.
"The guts of our season, from Thanksgiving on, we were pretty good this year where last year we were fine," Bergeron said. "The biggest thing I want them to take out of this season is this is the third weekend in March and we should still be playing."
But BG was 3-5 during its last four regular-season weekends and only played sporadically well, even though it won a first-round playoff series at Lake Superior.
"Our biggest challenge is to live up to the expectations where this year we weren't able to," Bergeron said. "We started the year with expectations, whether they were real or not, whether they were deserved or not, we didn't start the year real well."
BG advanced to the CCHA semifinals last season and was hoping to host a playoff series this season at minimum. The Falcons were 2-9-3 in their first 15 games.
"I want them to be a little bit (unhappy) that they're watching the league tournament and the national tournament. That makes you hungry," Bergeron said. "Our guys believe that we can and will be in those conversations down the road."
ROSTER: In addition to losing the four seniors, Bergeron said BG "potentially" could make a couple more roster moves before workouts for next season start Monday. The players and coaches are holding individual meetings this week.
"We're not going to have anyone involved in our preparation for the 13-14 season who we don't feel will be part of our team next year," Bergeron said.
NEXT: The Falcons open WCHA play Nov. 1-2 at home against Alaska-Anchorage.
BG is expected to have six nonleague games in October - a home series against Colgate, a road series against Union, and a home-and-home series against Ohio State.
Bergeron said the OSU series most likely consist of two mid-week games.
BG also will play in the Three Rivers Classic in Pittsburgh in late December. Also in the tournament at Boston College, Robert Morris and Penn State.
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