|Dufour makes smooth transition to college hockey (03-14-14)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 14 March 2014 09:39|
Kevin Dufour's had a smooth transition to college hockey.
The freshman left wing has been a regular in Bowling Green's lineup this season.
Dufour has nine goals and seven assists entering this weekend's Western Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinal series with Michigan Tech.
The best-of-3 series is tonight, Saturday and, if necessary, and Sunday.
The 6-foot, 190-pounder has parlayed excellent skating and offensive skills into a spot on one of BG's top three forward lines.
Dufour is playing left wing on a line with center Dan DeSalvo and right wing Adam Berkle, who are two of BG's best offensive players. He's also skating on the power play.
Dufour started the season on the fourth line and quickly worked his way up the depth chart.
"From the day he got here until now, he's been open to the coaching. He's been willing to listen and work," BG coach Chris Bergeron said.
"He's been very focused and consistent on a daily basis, and now he's getting rewarded for it. Now, he's got a little swagger, a little confidence. You can see it in practice. He's competing at a high level. With his skill set and his competition level, you're at a pretty good level. There have been very few dips in his game."
Among WCHA freshmen, Dufour is ninth in points and tied for third in goals.
The 21-year-old has missed only two of BG's 36 games. He's played in 28 straight games since being a healthy scratch at Alaska-Anchorage Nov 1-2.
He sat out that series because of a defensive mistake in BG's previous game.
Since then, the Quebec City native has improved his play without the puck and has made sure he's skating at all times. Now, he's earned the trust of the coaches defensively.
"I'm trying to be a (well-rounded player)," Dufour said. "I've just tried to listen to the coaches and work hard every day, and play consistent. I've always been an offensive guy, but I didn't expect to have this kind of season because I didn't know what to expect."
Dufour was expected to score immediately at BG after he totaled 26 goals and 32 assists in 57 games last season for Carleton Place in the Central Canada (Junior) Hockey League.
"I felt comfortable from the start of the year, once I saw that I had the speed to play at this level," Dufour said.
FACTS: The Falcons, 16-14-4 overall, are the fourth seed for the playoffs. Tech (17-14-7) is the No. 5 seed.
BG tied Alaska for third, but lost a tiebreaker.
DETAILS: One of the areas Bergeron was most pleased with during last weekend's sweep of Bemidji State was faceoffs.
BG won 60,1 percent of the draws in the series, two of the wins directly resulting in goals.
The Falcons have won 52.4 percent of their faceoffs this season. DeSalvo leads BG at 56 percent, followed by Cam Wojtala at 53.9 and Andrew Wallace at 50.5.
PP: The BG power play is 7-of-15 (46.6 percent) over the last five games, scoring at least once in every game.
Both units have generated quality scoring chances, but the unit of Sean Walker, Mike Sullivan, Ryan Carpenter, Dufour and Mark Cooper has scored all of the goals.
"They're getting pucks to the net. It's very simple, but effective," Bergeron said, adding the unit is passing the puck well and finding the open player.
Carpenter provides a terrific net-front presence. He's excellent at tipping pucks and screening the goalie.
"They simplify things and get (offensive) zone time because they win pucks," Bergeron said. "When they're doing things right, it's because they're keeping things simple and getting pucks to the net."
Tech's penalty-killing is sixth in the league at 86.8 percent, but it's 15-of-17 in the last four games.
PK: The Falcon penalty-killing is 40-of-45 (88.9 percent) over the last 14 games, including 13-of-13 during the last four games.
Tech's power-play is ninth in the league (14.3 percent).
PENALTIES: Tech is the third-most penalized team in the league at 15.7 minutes per game, while BG is seventh at 13.0.
Bergeron was unhappy BG had to kill six penaltieslast Saturday against Bemidji. BG faced an average of just 4.25 power plays per game this season.
Tech's power play is 6-of-19 against BG this season, while the Falcons were 2-of-15.
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