|BGSU hockey ready for stretch run (1-22-14)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON, Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 22 January 2014 10:39|
Bowling Green is ready for the stretch run in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.
The Falcons have only 10 league games remaining, starting with this weekend's home series against Lake Superior.
BG is third in the WCHA, three points behind second-place Minnesota State and five points behind first-place Ferris State.
The Falcons and MSU each have played 18 games, two more than Ferris.
The top four teams in the league host quarterfinal playoff series. The third-through ninth-place teams are separated by only seven points.
Lake Superior is tied with Michigan Tech and Alaska for seventh-place in the 10-team league.
"We feel good about where we are right now," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "We feel good about where we are in the standings. We feel good about how we're playing today."
The Falcons, who were idle last weekend, are 5-1-2 in their last eight games overall, including a 4-0-2 record in their last six league games.
"We feel good about the second half to this point," Bergeron said.
REMATCH: The Falcons lost two 4-3 decisions at Lake Superior Nov. 29-30.
BG held a one-goal lead in the third period of both games.
"We felt they were two hard-fought games and we found a way to be on the losing side of both. That's a compliment to Lake Superior," Bergeron said. "They took care of their home ice and we need to take care of our home ice against them. That's where it starts for us.
"I'm not talking about revenge. I'm talking about making amends for a series where we didn't play well enough and they played better than us from start to finish."
LEARNING: The Lake Superior series was part of a tough stretch for the Falcons, who lost five games and tied one when they held the lead late in the second period or the third period. Now, they're learning to play as a favorite because of their recent success.
"The more times we have the lead and the more times we have to play under those circumstances, the better we'll be at it," Bergeron said. "We have to learn how to play as the favorite. We have to learn how to play with a lead and we're learning. The only way to get better at those things is to live through it. They're necessary experiences for us to have."
SECOND HALF: Again this season, BG is an improved team during the second half - something its done in each of Bergeron's four seasons.
Bergeron admitted he was an extremely difficult person to be around during the first half in each of his first two seasons. Now, he's trying to be more positive during the entire season, focusing more on the positives, and how the team is playing - instead of the results.
"Last year, I didn't think I was as difficult to be around during the first half of the year. We didn't take our foot off the gas, but we gave ourselves a break," Bergeron said. "We've felt better about our day-to-day the last couple years. Our process has been about the same. The overall vibe has helped. The first couple years, it was a difficult place to be once we got to the holiday break.
"The second half, this was a much better place to be. The results said that. Our overall attitude said that. Our attitude about coming to the rink was more positive. It's been a more positive program, just more positive area to be around the second half of the season."
HEALTHY: BG sophomore Brent Tate will play this weekend after sitting out the Falcons, series against Alaska Jan. 10-11 because of a sore back.
The forward is key player because of his physical presence and the energy he brings to the team. He also has eight goals and eight assists.
HOME ICE: BG is 7-2-2 at home this season, while Lake Superior is 6-6-1 on the road.
PK: The BG penalty-killing is12th nationally and third in the league at 85.1 percent.
The Falcons have killed off 15 straight power plays, and 20 of their last 21 attempts. They're consistently killing off penalties at key parts of every game.
"We all seem to be on the page this year," Bergeron said. "Last year, we seemed to be in-between. I like the fact we don't seem to be in-between any more which means we all understand where we need to be and when we need to be."
Lake Superior's power play is eighth in the league at 15.5 percent (15-of-97).
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