|BG hockey seeks improved play (03-06-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 06 March 2013 10:33|
Bowling Green enters the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs at a difficult time.
Although the Falcons have played well at times during their last four games, they haven't been sharp overall.
BG has lost three of its last four games as it prepares to travel to Lake Superior for a best-of-3 first-round series Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
The biggest concern for the Falcons is their team defense.
BG has allowed 16 goals in those four games, while goalies Andrew Hammond and Tommy Burke have combined for an .845 save percentage and the opponents have scored eight power-play goals in 16 attempts.
"Our execution in the games has not been good and that's concerning," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "We're going to need our players to wrap their arms around that and be better."
While BG has been solid during parts of those four games, its inconsistency led to the Falcons falling to ninth place and out of a home-ice berth for the first round of the playoffs.
The Falcons haven't hosted a playoff series since 2008 when they beat Lake Superior in the Ice Arena. BG was the No. 7 seed that season and won the series in overtime of Game 3. Lake Superior was the No. 10 seed that season.
"We didn't wrap our arms around this opportunity to host or play well," Bergeron said. "I don't sense disappointment. I almost sense complacency."
Ironically, BG's offense has produced at least three goals in three of the last four games and scored on four of its 19 power-play chances.
"Every day in practice, we need to make sure we have the intensity that we had during the year and remember what made us successful, and remember to pay attention to those details," BG junior co-captain Cam Wojtala said.
UNDECIDED: BG hasn't decided on its goaltending plans for the series.
Senior standout Andrew Hammond returned from a knee injury to play in relief in of Tommy Burke during last Friday's loss at Notre Dame and then started Saturday's game. Hammond had missed six straight games. Burke had played well most of the season until recently.
"(Hammond) proved to himself he can play," Bergeron said. "He can push. He can go up and down. He can do all things he wants to be able to do."
Hammond had a 3.04 goals-against average and a .917 save percentage in eight playoff games last season. He has a 2.83 goals-against and a .922 save percentage in his last 13 playoff games.
"We need to be better in goal and those guys know it," Bergeron said. "Andrew's the one who is more proven in this situation. But if he starts Friday and doesn't do well, we're not pre-determining anything. If Burke starts Friday and does play well, you've got to go with the hot hand. It will depend on who comes with the hot hand."
INJURIES: BG defenseman Connor Kucera won't play in the series after injuring his knee in the final two minutes of Saturday's game at ND.
REMATCH: The Falcons swept Lake Superior (4-1, 7-3) Feb. 1-2 in BG.
BG's last trip to Lake Superior was last season when it split a two-game series.
LAKERS: The Lakers are 3-3 since losing twice at BG. They split at Northern Michigan last weekend.
They're sixth in the CCHA in goals scored (2.42 per game), power-play conversions (14.9 percent) and penalty-killing (84.5) percent; and eighth in goals allowed (2.67 per game).
HOME AGAIN: Lake Superior is hosting a first-round series for third straight season. The Lakers swept Alaska last season and Ohio State in 2011.
BREAK: BG is off for spring break this week, while Lake Superior resumed classes Monday after having its break last week.
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