|Hammond's departure leaves void in goal (03-29-13)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Friday, 29 March 2013 07:40|
Andrew Hammond's departure leaves Bowling Green's hockey team with a huge void to fill in goal next season.
The Falcons believe Tommy Burke and Tomas Sholl can provide the team with quality goaltending.
Hammond was a four-year regular, posting a 2.85 goals-against average and a .906 percentage in 119 games. He recently signed with the NHL's Ottawa Senators.
Burke played well overall this season. Even though he had the expected inconsistencies of a freshman, he had a 2.57 goals-against average and an .889 save percentage in 15 games.
Sholl, the heir apparent to Hammond, has a 3.16 goals-against and a .909 save percentage in 30 games for Fresno in the North American (Junior) Hockey League this season.
"We've got some nice options," said BG coach Chris Bergeron, who will be starting his fourth season in the fall. "Our goaltending will be strong. It'll just be the one position where we don't have guys who have proven it over a length of time."
Bergeron expects to have a two-goalie rotation next season.
"I don't think it's fair to expect one guy to carry the mail," Bergeron said. "We don't have a guy like Hammond. I see it as a by-committee situation."
Hammond is one of the best goalies ever to play at BG. He ranks second in career goals-against average at BG and is tied for third in save percentage.
"Tommy Burke has proven he can play if Sholl struggles," Bergeron said. "Tomas Sholl is somebody we've recruited to replace Hammond and Tommy Burke got put in more action than we all thought he would (this season).
"In the big picture and program's picture, that's good news. (Burke) showed he can win games at this level and maybe steal games."
DEFENSE: Regardless of who the goalie is, he'll have the benefit of playing behind a veteran defense.
The defense is expected to led by Mike Sullivan, Connor Kucera and Marcus Perrier, all of whom will be juniors next season. Also returning as regulars are Ralfs Freibergs Jose Delgadillo and Rusty Hafner. Hafner will be a junior next season, while Freibergs and Delgadillo will be sophomores.
"We're going to be a deeper team," Bergeron said of his defense. "There's not going to be a drop off in the top six. The (defense) corps has been really unproven since we've been here and next year has the best possibility to be pretty darn good from the defensive and offensive perspectives."
Sullivan emerged as a top-flight defender this season, while Kucera took a step forward, too. Perrier had a disappointing season with a minus-10 on-ice rating.
"We'll have (Sullivan, Kucera and Perrier) as pillars," Bergeron said. "Those three guys, we can build the defense around."
Incoming freshmen Mark Friedman and Sean Walker also are expected to contribute on defense next season.
BG was much improved defensively as a team this season, ranking sixth in the CCHA in goals allowed (2.56 per game).
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