Falcons face tough test from ND (12-13-12)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Thursday, 13 December 2012 10:37
Bowling Green's hockey team faces one of its biggest tests of the season Saturday night in the Ice Arena.
|File photo. BG's Bobby Shea (28) carries the puck as Miami's Curtis McKenzie (16) skates in during CCHA championships in Detroit on March 17, 2012. (Photo: Enoch Wu/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Falcons host third-ranked Notre Dame at 7:05.
The Fighting Irish lead the Central Collegiate Hockey Association with records of 13-4 overall and 9-1 in the league. They hold a two-point lead over Miami and have played two fewer games.
"We've played teams that are really, really good before. I'm not sure we've played teams that are this deep before," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "They are really, really good."
The Fighting Irish are rebounding from a disappointing 2011-12 season when they were 19-18-3 overall and eighth in the CCHA.
ND returns 18 lettermen, and has a nice mix size and strength, and speed skill. It has talent and depth at every position.
"Everybody knew last year their team on paper was better than their results," Bergeron said. "Outside looking in, that something special (was) missing. Whatever that something was, they've gotten it. I thought this year's Notre Dame was going to be really strong because some of those younger guys are now veteran guys and it's starting to pay off for them."
ND leads the CCHA in goals scored (3.18 per game), goals allowed (1.65) and penalty-killing (91.2 percent, 62-of-68). The Fighting Irish are fifth in power-play conversions (16.2 percent, 13-of-80).
"Our focus is more on our game, being ready ... to do things with a purpose, the details and all that stuff," Bergeron said. "Just like anybody else that is really good, Notre Dame will expose you if you're not that. They will expose you because their depth is really good."
RECAP: BG (3-9-4, 2-6-3-1) is coming off a 3-2 win and a 3-3 tie at the University of Alaska as it stopped a six-game winless streak.
"It's definitely a positive. We just have to build on that momentum," BG freshman forward Mark Cooper said.
"The momentum we have is positive," Bergeron said. "The vibe we have is positive. We played more consistent."
OFFENSE: Although BG is struggling to score, its back-to-back three-goal games at Alaska were its first of the season and the six goals at Alaska were its most in a weekend this season.
"It takes so much pressure off everybody when you're able to score," Bergeron said.
BG is last in the league in scoring at 1.88 gpg, including just 1.73 in CCHA play.
PK: The BG penalty-killing has been better than its 77.5 percent shows. BG has allowed 16 power-play goals in 71 attempts, but 13 of the goals have come in just five games.
BG has killed off 12 of its last 14 short-handed situations.
"I just like our overall execution," Bergeron said. "We lost that edge, the chip on our shoulder, but we've got a little bit of that back. But I don't want to overstate that because we've got a big-time power play coming in this weekend."
WHY: The Falcons and ND originally were scheduled to play a two-game series in BG this weekend, but Friday's game was moved to Jan. 15 (a Tuesday night) for academic reasons at ND's request, Bergeron said.
ELITE: The Fighting Irish have two of the best players in the league in junior forwards Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan.
Lee leads the Fighting Irish with 11 goals and 16 goals, while Tynan has four goals and nine assists.
Tynan was a third-round NHL draft pick in Columbus, while Lee was sixth-round pick of the New York Islanders in 2009.
Junior forward Bryan Rust, a third-pick of Pittsburgh in 2010, has four goals and nine assists.
SERIES: The Falcons lost three of their four games against ND last season, but split their series at ND last season.
TOUGH FOES: At one point this season, ND had played 11 straight games against ranked opponents. The Fighting Irish were 7-4 in those games.
NHL: ND has 12 NHL draft picks on its roster, while the Falcons have none.
Last Updated on Thursday, 13 December 2012 12:50