|BG power play strives to build on strong finish (10-4-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 04 October 2013 07:43|
Bowling Green's power play was improved late last season.
The Falcons are striving to build on that success this season.
They were 6-of-29 (20.7 percent) with the extra man during their final seven games last season.
Much of the success was due to the addition of defenseman Ralfs Freibergs to the unit.
Freibergs, a sophomore defenseman this fall, was on the ice for all six of those goals. He had a goal and four assists.
The Falcons return their two power-play units almost in tact this season.
BG was only 23-of-167 on the power play (13.8 percent) last season. It struggled most of last season until Freibergs was added to the point.
The Falcons hit the ice for the first time Saturday when they host Wilfrid Laurier University in an exhibition.
"There's more purpose to what we're doing on the power play," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "Although it'll always be a work in progress, there seems to be a lot more happening on the good side."
The lack of production on the power play was one of the major reasons the Falcons finished 15-21-5 overall and won just 10 league games last season. BG averaged only 2.4 goals per game last season.
"The power play is a huge part of every game and we need it to win us games," Bergeron said. "Having a little bit of chemistry, a little sense of feel for where the guys are supposed to be helps."
The BG is hoping to convert at least 20 percent.
"We still have a lot of areas to improve on, but there seems to be more opportunities being created and the more opportunities you create, the more chances you have to score goals," Bergeron said.
PK: Like the power play, BG's penalty-killing was a problem last season.
The Falcons were last in the league at 76.5 percent, compared to 82.5 percent during 2011-12 season.
BG's goal is 90 percent.
"We have to find a way to get back to the level we had a couple years ago," Bergeron said. "A year ago, we were indecisive and in between all over the ice all year long and it ultimately affected our execution. We had pucks on our sticks that we couldn't get out. We had shot block opportunities that we missed. We just need to be way sharper on the PK."
The Falcons return virtually all of their penalty-killers from last season, except for standouts Bobby Shea on defense and goalie Andrew Hammond.
"That gives us confidence. This isn't new to them," Bergeron said of the veterans on the penalty-killing unit.
Bergeron also said because of BG's added depth this season, it has players who could be in the lineup solely because of their ability to kill penalties.
COMEBACK: The Falcons are hoping for a solid season from junior defenseman Marcus Perrier. The 6-foot-1, 225-pounder had a nice freshmen season, but had an on-ice rating of minus-10 last season.
"We definitely want a more consistent year from Marcus," Bergeron said. "The message to him was we want him on ice for the last 30 seconds of every game, whether we're trying to close out a game with a lead or trying to score to tie it. He's in the best physical shape he's been in his whole life."
"We set some parameters for him going home this summer in terms of conditioning and he got to those levels. That's only to help him physically. Mentally, it will give him confidence he can play the minutes we want him to play."
DEFENSE: Perrier is a part of an experienced defense that includes classmates Rusty Hafner, Connor Kucera, and Mike Sullivan. BG likely will have no seniors playing regularly on the blueline.
"That whole group, going from their sophomore year to their junior year, we expect them to be our mainstays back there," Bergeron said. "We're going to need them."
All four saw extensive ice time the last two seasons.
"We need them to really mature and take their game to that upperclassmen level, and (Perrier) is one of the guys we expect to be a leader back there," Bergeron said.
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