|BG seeks home-ice berth (01-30-13)|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune Staff|
|Wednesday, 30 January 2013 10:51|
Bowling Green is looking to earn home ice for the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.
The Falcons believe a strong finish during the final 10 games of the regular season will put them in position to do that.
Their push starts Friday and Saturday nights when they host Lake Superior.
BG and Michigan are tied for ninth place in the 11-team league with 19 points, one behind seventh-place Northern Michigan. A sweep of Lake Superior would put BG one point behind the seventh-place Lakers.
MSU is last with 16 points. BG still has remaining series against MSU and NMU.
The top five teams in the league earn a first-round bye with the top four hosting quarterfinal series. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-place teams host first-round series against the ninth-, 10th- and 11-place teams in the first round
“We can make some pretty serious noise in our league standings with a good 10-game stretch,” said BG coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his third season. “It’s a good place for us to be. I want to be in these weekends more often than not in the future. This is positive stuff and it means we’re going in the right direction.”
BG hasn’t hosted a first-round series since 2008 when it was seventh. It also hosted a first-round series in 2005, its first home series since 1995.
“These games down the stretch, each one becomes more important just because you’re trying to build momentum heading forward into the playoffs,” BG senior Andrew Hammond said. “Knowing there’s standings implications, it’s something different for us. It is exciting that we still have an opportunity to host a playoff game. That’s the goal right now.”
BG has finished last or next-to-last in the CCHA four straight seasons and six times in the last eight seasons.
BG is 8-13-5 overall and 5-10-3 -1 in the CCHA. Lake Superior is 13-14-1, 8-11-1-1.
“It’s a big weekend,” Bergeron said. “We haven’t put ourselves in this situation very much the last couple years. I’m really anxious to see how our guys respond. If the first two days of practice this week are any indication, we’re going to be just fine.
“I want our guys to feel a little bit of pressure,” Bergeron added. “A year ago, we weren’t talking about standings. We weren’t talking about must wins because we were headed to a certain finish in the standings. We knew that. We don’t know that now.”
REVIEW: The Falcons have lost three straight games — twice at No. 4 Miami last weekend and once at No. 6 Western Michigan Jan. 19. BG had won four straight and was unbeaten in six games (5-0-1) before the losing streak.
“For most of us, there’s a certain level of redemption we have to earn back,” Hammond said. “ When you’re disappointed with the results we had, you’re going to work a little bit harder and we’ve seen that so far in just two practices.”
BG hasn’t played well in its last 21⁄2 games. And in 2-1, 3-1 losses at Miami, BG didn’t compete hard and play with any emotion — one of its staples the last three seasons.
“We can’t let three poor games or a bad weekend ruin what started off as a pretty good second half or the last 10 games,” Bergeron said. “The way the guys have reacted the last couple days, they’ve been able to do that.”
HOT HAND: Hammond’s played well the last two months, posting a 2.15 goals-against average and a .932 save percentage in his last 12 games.
PP/PK: Inconsistent special teams are one of BG’s major concerns.
The power play is just 1-of-23 in the last seven games, while the penalty-killing has allowed six goals in 20 chances over the last six games.
The Falcons are a minus-18 in special teams goals this season, the worst in the CCHA.
Lake Superior is third in the league in power-play conversions (17.4 percent,) and eighth in penalty-killing (84.4 percent)
In CCHA games only, BG is 5-of-73 on the power play (6.8 percent) and 59-of-78 penalty-killing (75.6 percent).
SERIES: The teams split at Lake Superior last season, but haven’t played at BG since the 2010-11 season.
INJURIES: Defenseman Jake Sloat (leg) remains out.
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