|Flashes from Gordon: Next step proves difficult for BG hockey (02-07-14)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 07 February 2014 10:19|
DIFFICULT STEP: Bowling Green's hockey team is no longer one of college hockey's bottom-feeders.
The Falcons have become an average to an above average team in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association, but they're finding the next step is a difficult one.
Becoming a championship team isn't easy. And the Falcons have struggled with that.
Just three weeks ago, the Falcons were in position to perhaps finish as high as second in the WCHA with an outside opportunity to win the league had Ferris State collapsed.
Instead, BG is going to have to play consistently and win in its final six games just to have to chance to earn home ice for the WCHA quarterfinals.
The Falcons will need help, too, since they've played more games than all but one of the other nine teams in the league.
They've lost three of their last four games, all at home, including two of the games when they held a 2-0 lead. BG's had trouble holding leads during the last three months.
Teams, to use the cliché, have to learn how to win. Championships are earned.
BG was 9-6-3 in the WCHA and second in the league after a win and a tie at home against the University of Alaska Jan. 10-11.
Expectations began to rise and BG started receiving national attention, but the last two weekends have been a step back.
The Falcons have played well at times during three of their last four games, but not for long enough periods of time and they're making mistakes offensively and defensively at key games.
Teams don't suddenly wake up and become a championship team. It takes time by learning to play with a lead, playing with expectations, playing in meaningful games late in the season and by receiving every opponent's best shot.
Sure, some of this is part excuse. But the reality is the elite programs like Minnesota and Boston College among others, have been doing it for years and it's become a lifestyle for those programs.
The Falcons are hoping to compete for and win league titles, and become a top 10 team nationally on an annual basis.
It all starts in practice and BG has been making the same mistakes it's been making in in practice, too. It's part of - as coaches like to say - the daily process. The higher expectations start in practice every day, so that games become an extension of practice.
But it's a process that has become frustratingly difficult for BG.
WELL DONE: The Falcon hockey team's outdoor game at Toledo's Fifth Third Field next season is a great idea.
BG plays Robert Morris in a Jan. 3 game to start a home-and-home series that concludes the next day at RMU.
Although there are plenty of outdoor games in the NHL and in college hockey, the games still are special to the participating teams and their fans, especially since this will be the first one for BG and RMU.
The outdoor game should draw well, although the weather could impact that and the ECHL's Toledo Walleye are playing two outdoor games at the venue, too.
But it should be enough of a unique event to draw an excellent crowd. Fifth Third Field, home of minor league baseball's Toledo Mud Hens, has a capacity of 10,300.
A BG home game at Fifth Third Field over the Christmas break is better than a home game before 1,000 or so fans in the Ice Arena.
Brutally cold temperatures and heavy snow could cause problems, just as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings found out when they played in Ann Arbor in snowy conditions on Jan. 1. The snow created less than stellar hockey.
Having Ohio State or Miami as the opponent in the outdoor game would have made the event even more marketable.
But the Falcons shouldn't give up one of their infrequent must-see home games and a great home-ice advantage in the Ice Arena just to play an outdoor contest.
League games shouldn't be held outdoors, either. The points are too important.
Outdoor conditions shouldn't impact the league standings.
|Last Updated on Friday, 07 February 2014 16:28|
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