|Playoff run excites BG (06-26-12)|
|Written by KEVIN GORDON Sentinel Assistant Sports Editor|
|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 09:36|
Bowling Green's hockey team already is looking forward to next season.
The Falcons played well during most of the second half of last season and advanced to the semifinals of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
BG won playoff series at sixth-seeded Northern Michigan and CCHA regular-season champion before losing in double overtime to seventh-ranked Michigan in the semifinals.
The Falcons return all of their key players from and are expected to have another good freshmen class.
BG hasn't had a winning record overall since 1997 or a winning record in the CCHA since 2005.
"I'm excited to put those difficult times behind us and see the fruits of that, start to see some better things," said BG coach Chris Bergeron, who is in his third season. "The end of last year, we kind of got a glimpse of that.
Still, the Falcons' playoff run was tempered by their records of 14-25-5 overall and 5-19-4 for last place in the league - five of BG's wins came in the last 10 games.
"But that has to be done over 28 league games, that has to be done over 36 games for the year, not just the last six or eight games," Bergeron said. "It'll get harder because the expectations will get more and more, and people will expect more.
"It gets easier because there's more positive feelings, more good things happening. Just on a daily basis, it's easier to be around everybody. It's easier to come to the rink. It's easier to say you play for the hockey team. It's easier on a daily basis to be a part of something positive. I look forward to that for these players because they have been through difficult times in terms of winning and losing."
The Falcons will be an experienced team with 21 of their 29 players being sophomores, juniors and seniors.
"I want them to be able to stick their chest out and say, 'Yes, I'm on the hockey team and we won last weekend. We're going to win this weekend' and truly mean that. As expectations are raised, it may get harder. But it's easier on a daily basis to be around each other when things are positive.
MORE: With the Falcons' playoff run, expectations for the team are higher this season.
"The expectations I'm talking about start as an individual," Bergeron said. "Expectations on an individual basis get overlooked. What does this young guy expect from himself every day, whether that's in the classroom, the weight room, his behavior on campus or off, or on the ice? That is something we harp on. Take ownership of those expectations, make sure they're high enough, hold yourself accountable.
"We are not going to settle for mediocre any more, whether that's a practice day, a weight room day, somebody's behavior in class, on the ice - that to us is what's changing. They're starting to live it, and believe it and police it. The results will absolutely take care of themselves. The results will take of themselves if we take care of the process."
PK: Although the Falcon penalty-killing was improved last season at 82.5 percent, BG is expecting even more improvement this season.
"We've done a good job with our penalty-kill at times, but we haven't done it consistently and we're not at the numbers we want to be at," said Bergeron, whose goal for the penalty-killing unit is 90 percent.
BG believes its penalty-killing will be helped by the talent and depth of the freshmen class. During the last two seasons, the Falcons have had too many players skating on both the penalty-killing and power-play units, resulting in fatigue.
"That should help take some of the onus off some of the players and keep them fresher," Bergeron said. "The freshmen are going to have to earn their ice time, but we expect them to be involved with our power-play and penalty-killing units."
SUMMER: Bergeron said he's pleased with the results of the team's summer conditioning, based on the reports he's heard. Approximately 10 players are here for the summer. The rest are working out at home.
UPDATE: Bergeron said Max Grover and Mike Fink, who aren't returning to the team this season, will remain in school at BG and keep their scholarships.
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