Falcons' Hammond playing well again (03-15-13)
Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor
Friday, 15 March 2013 09:24
Andrew Hammond is back in form.
|File photo. Andrew Hammond for the Falcons stretches for the puck. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
The Bowling Green goalie played well in his team's first-round series victory at Lake Superior last weekend.
The senior standout is ready for even bigger challenge this weekend as the Falcons visit 12th-ranked Notre Dame for a best-of-3 Central Collegiate Hockey Association quarterfinal series.
Hammond stopped 70-of-75 series against the Lakers for a 1.68 goals-against average and a .933 save percentage.
He was coming off a tough series at Notre Dame Feb. 22-23 when he returned after missing three straight weekends because of a knee injury.
"He got back to being Andrew," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "He's back on top of his game."
Hammond didn't practice while he was hurt and then stopped just 35-of-40 shots at ND as he worked off the rust from his game. He appeared in relief in Game 1 and started Game 2 of the series, stopping 22-of-26 shots in a 4-1 loss.
"I felt like I was fighting (the puck at ND)," Hammond said. "To get in a full week of practice and set my mind straight was good. It's tough dealing with not being on the ice for a while. You get out of your routine and once you start getting back into it, it takes a while. I'm right back where I was before."
"Mentally, it's very refreshing," Hammond added. "But physically, you can lose some stuff over that time period staying sharp. Physically, I'm just trying to get back to where I was and I'm there now."
RELIABLE: Senior Bobby Shea and sophomore Mike Sullivan have played consistently well on defense for BG. They've combined for five goals and 31 assists, and an on-ice rating of plus-35. Shea also has blocked 32 shots.
"They have a relationship where they can get after each other and be OK, in terms of on the ice when someone should've said something and didn't," Bergeron said. "They kind of bark at each other and there's definitely no thin skin there and they handle it well. Bobby has been good for Mike in the way that (Bobby's) been there and done it."
SHEA II: Shea is a finalist for the CCHA's best defensive defensemen award. The other finalists are Western Michigan's Dan DeKeyser and Miami's Steve Spinell.
The winner will be announced March 22.
PLAYOFFS: The series win at Lake Superior was BG's fourth in the last three seasons.
"It's tough to put your finger on," Hammond said of BG's playoff success. "We are a team that really cares about each other a lot. Any time, you get put into a position where tomorrow isn't a given, that it's the last day you could be with a group of guys, that pushes us to dig down and find something we didn't know we had."
LEADERS: ND juniors Anders Lee and T.J. Tynan are two of the league's best forwards, while classmates Bryan Rust and Jeff Costello, and freshman Mario Lucia are key players for the Irish. The five have combined 60 goals and 76 assists this season.
ND also has a big and strong defense corps that includes sophomore Robbie Russo and senior Sam Calabrese.
Junior Steven Summerhays is ND's No. 1 goalie. He has a 2.03 goals-against and a .917 save percentage in 31 games.
DEPTH: Although ND has a nice mix of speed and skill, and size and strength, it also has depth at all three positions.
"Their depth is the biggest challenge," Bergeron said. "If it's not Tynan, it's somebody else. If's not Lee, it's somebody else. If it's not a forward, it's a defensemen. If it's not a defensemen, it's Summerhays or (goalie Mike) Johnson will be there for them. Their depth has so many layers."
PROGRESS: The Falcons' ninth-place finish in the league marked the first time since 2008 they didn't finish last or next-to-last in the league. BG was seventh in 2008.
The Falcons had been last the two previous seasons.