|Falcons focusing on the process (02-27-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Wednesday, 27 February 2013 09:12|
Bowling Green can finish as high as sixth and as low as ninth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association entering the final weekend of the regular season.
The Falcons, however, are concentrating only on playing well as they prepare to visit 11th-ranked Notre Dame.
They believe looking at the big picture cost them Friday in a 5-2 home loss to Northern Michigan. They rebounded to play well Saturday in a 5-3 win over the Wildcats.
Entering the NMU series, BG knew a sweep would have gone a long way towards clinching home ice in the first round of the league playoffs.
"That's why we weren't very good Friday, because we got too caught up in that and forgot about what Friday was," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "Friday was an opportunity to play a game and we did some things OK, but we most things not good enough and Northern did things better than we did.
"We choked," Bergeron added. "We got too caught up in the implications ... To win the game, there's a process. We have to do ... this, this and this, and do it hard. We let an opportunity get away from us, maybe because we got caught up in things we had no control over."
The Falcons, seventh in the CCHA with 34 points, can clinch sixth-place with a sweep of third-place ND.
BG and Alaska would each have 40 points, but BG would earn sixth based on its 1-0-1 record against UA. The Nanooks have completed league play.
BG can clinch home ice with a regulation or overtime win at ND, which still can finish first.
Lake Superior is eighth with 32, followed by Michigan (31) and Northern Michigan (29). The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-place teams host first-round series.
Since Lake Superior visits NMU this weekend, only one of those teams can pass BG in the standings. Michigan hosts Ferris State.
"We're not going to talk about that," Bergeron said. "We're not in a place in our program where we can look forward. We just can't. We're not there yet."
HAMMOND: BG goalie Andrew Hammond remains day-do-day with a knee injury that has caused him to miss the last three series.
He went through drills in practice for the first time in 12 days Tuesday, but still hasn't gone through a "full-go" practice, Bergeron said.
"As much as anything that he can handle guys crashing the net, he can handle the traffic, he can make a save here and push across and make a save there," Bergeron said of a full-go practice. "Those are the things he needs to know in his own mind that he can do. Those are part of the strengths of his game. I think, right now, he's got some doubt whether he can or can't do that."
A decision on whether he plays at ND might not be made until Friday.
"There's a better chance today than there was yesterday," Bergeron said. "He played pucks (Tuesday), so he had to back and get them. There was some good movement there, but there wasn't a whole lot of up and down. His hands looked good. He was catching pucks and blocking pucks, getting a sweat on in his gear and doing goalie things and felt good after it.
"We take a baby step (Wednesday) unless we go backwards or sideways (Wednesday), then he becomes part of the conversation for Friday.''
Because Hammond started every game last season and has started 22 of BG's 34 games this season, Bergeron said Hammond "is not far away from being back" in game shape
REWARDS: Teams receive three points for a regulation or overtime win, two points for a shootout win, one point for a shootout loss and no points for a regulation or OT loss.
CCHA TIEBREAKERS: In order, 1) most league-game wins, 2) head-to-head record, 3) goal differential in head-to-head games, 4) record against the first-place team (if the tie isn't broken, then the second-place team and so on) and 5) coin toss.
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