Home ice at stake for BG hockey (02-12-14)


Bowling Green’s hopes of hosting a first-round series in the first round of the Western Collegiate Hockey
Association playoffs could be decided this weekend.
The Falcons visit Alaska-Anchorage in a series matching the teams tied for the fourth and final home-ice
BG and UAA each have 23 points with six league games remaining.
The third- through ninth-place teams are separated by just six points, but eighth-place Northern Michigan
and ninth-place Lake Superior each have played two fewer games.
"I believe our guys understand the implications of the series and the last six games in the
league," BG coach Chris Bergeron said. "We’ve responded in situations like this in the past.
There’s no reason to believe we won’t respond in this situation."
The top eight teams in the 10-team league qualify for the playoffs, with the top four hosting
quarterfinal series.
BG has lost three of its last four games, including 5-2, 5-4 overtime losses at home to Michigan Tech
Jan, 31-Feb. 1.
Tech is third in the league with 24 points.
"The key is we have to execute at our level, a high level," said Bergeron, whose team was idle
last weekend.
The Falcons are second in the WCHA in scoring at 3.13 goals per game, but they’ve allowed five goals in
each of their last three losses.
"We seem to be able to score goals and we need to be able to defend, and that’s execution,"
Bergeron said.
PRACTICE: Bergeron said BG’s execution in practice has improved since the Tech series. The coach has said
several times this season the mistakes that are costing the team games are the same miscues being made
every day in practice.
"We, as a coaching staff, are trying to put our guys in those positions in practice to simulate a
one-goal lead, a big faceoff, whatever it may be," Bergeron said. "The execution has been
better. That’s going to be a work in progress.
"This weekend’s games are going to come down to those plays, those five, six plays, special teams,
5-on-5, whatever situation it may be. We need to execute."
REMATCH: The teams already have played once this season, with BG earning a 6-1, 1-0 sweep in the Ice
Arena Oct. 31-Nov. 1.
WELCOME BACK; The Falcons are playing just their second series in Anchorage.
They opened the 1998-99 season there and posted a 10-3, 7-2 sweep of the Seawolves.
HOME ICE: The Seawolves, who are playing their final regular-season home series this weekend, are 10-3-1
at home this season.
UAA’s Sullivan Arena has an Olympic-sized ice surface, measuring 200 feet long by 100 feet wide, The Ice
Arena and most North American rinks are 200 by 85.
BG hasn’t played on the big ice this season, but most of the Falcons have played on the big ice at
Northern Michigan and Alaska (Fairbanks) the last two seasons.
Bergeron said playing on the Olympic ice isn’t a big adjustment. The main area of emphasis is for the
defensemen to stay inside the dots on the faceoff circles in the defensive zone, enabling them to
protect the middle of the ice.
The Falcons are traveling to UAA today, and will practice there Thursday and Friday.
MISSING: The Falcons will be without sophomore defenseman Ralfs Freibergs, who is playing with the
Latvian Olympian team.
Freibergs, an offensive defenseman, has two goals and 18 assists. He is a key player power-play unit.
WCHA STATS: BG’s Dan DeSalvo is in tied for fifth for scoring in the WCHA. He has 27 points in 30 games,
including 21 assists.
The Falcons’ Adam Berkle leads the WCHA with three short-handed goals.
BG’s Tommy Burke is fourth with a .916 save percentage and fifth with a 2.32 goals-against average.

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