|Flashes of Gordon: BG looking forward to second half (12-26-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Thursday, 26 December 2013 10:09|
LOOKING AHEAD: Bowling Green's hockey team has reason to look forward to its final 16 games of the season.
The Falcons have improved and played consistently well during the second half in each of Chris Bergeron's first three seasons as head coach.
And this season, the second-half schedule is manageable.
That doesn't guarantee success. But if BG can play well, it can overcome a disappointing first half of the season.
The Falcons believed they would contend for the Western Collegiate Hockey Association championship at the start of the season, but they're 8-8-4 overall and 6-6-2 in the league entering this weekend's games in the Three Rivers Classic.
They've played well for 40 minutes or more during most of their games, but the poor stretches during those games prevented BG from winning more. And the Falcons have battled injuries and a difficult schedule.
The bottom line is the Falcons' record is a fair representation of how the team has played - regardless of the schedule and the injuries.
Yet, they survived to finish in a third-place tie with Bemidji State in the WCHA.
BG and Bemidji each have 14 points to trail Ferris State with 22 and Minnesota State with 18. Right behind are Michigan Tech, Lake Superior and Alaska-Anchorage, each with 12.
BG and Bemidji, however, have played two more games than the other five teams.
The top eight teams make the playoffs, with the first four teams hosting quarterfinal series.
SCHEDULE: Second-ranked Ferris and No. 20 MSU have been the two best teams in the WCHA, and the Falcons won't see either team during the second half of the regular season.
The Falcons have six straight home games in January, including home series against Lake Superior and Tech. BG also has a home series against Bemidji.
Ferris and MSU still have their only series of the season to play, and Tech still has to play Ferris four times and MSU twice.
Although BG will have a hard time catching the top two teams, it still controls where it'll finish in the league.
The Falcons were 2-3-1 against Ferris and MSU, but four of the games were one-goal games and a fifth was a two-goal game where the second goal was an empty-net with less than two minutes play. Four of the games went to overtime.
KEY: Although BG must have improvement from every player and in every aspect of the game for a big second half, it really needs its defense corps to be significantly better.
The defensemen were expected to be BG's strength, based on their experience. But they haven't played well and when they're off, the rest of the team's game isn't as sharp.
The BG coaching staff was so unhappy with their defensemen during the first half they moved forward Dajon Mingo back to the blueline to add an offensive threat and to create more competition at the position.
Had the defense played as well as expected, Mingo likely would have stayed at forward.
NEWCOMERS: One of the bright spots of the first half for BG was the play of freshmen forwards Matt Pohlkamp, Pierre-Luc Mercier and Kevin Dufour.
The three have combined for 11 goals and 14 goals this season, and have helped out on the BG special teams. Mercier and Pohlkamp have played in all 20 games, and Dufour has missed just two games.
Although injured forwards Ryan Carpenter, Adam Berkle and Brett Mohler aren't easily replaced, the play of the three freshmen softened some of the damage done by the injuries.
Pohlkamp, Mercier and Dufour took advantage of their extra ice time and figure to be even better with experience.
TV: Here's wishing the NFL or a college football bowl game or two would play on Christmas Day to provide some relief from the NBA marathon on ESPN and ABC.
Even the NHL should consider playing an outdoor game on Christmas Day, given the lack of competition from other sports.
Fortunately, the three Santa Claus movies with Tim Allen and Christmas Vacation were on the ABC Family Channel to enjoy.
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