Now that the winter sports seasons have ended, Falcon Fodder will take a look at BG’s hockey, women’s basketball and men’s basketball teams as all three prepare for the 2013-14 season. This week the focus will be on the hockey program.
On Tuesday we’ll provide an overview of the program, followed by a look at the offense/forward on Wednesday and the defense/goalies on Thursday. Friday we will focus on the new-look Western Collegiate Hockey Conference, BG’s home next season.
Here we go …
OVERVIEW: BG finished the season with a 15-21-5 record, with those 15 wins one better than last season. The Falcons were 10-15-3 in Central Collegiate Hockey Association play, which is five more league wins than the previous season. Bowling Green finished ninth in the 11-team CCHA, which is good and bad news. It’s good in that it’s an improvement over the previous two seasons, but it’s bad in that the expectation was to play at home in the first round of the CCHA tournament, and that didn't happen.
“We were the ninth-place team. That’s the reality and we take ownership of that,” BG coach Chris Bergeron said. “There were some contributing factors to that that we have to clean up. But if we’re a better team than ninth, we have to play better.”
POST SEASON: The Falcons won their first-round CCHA playoff series at Lake Superior, bouncing back from a Friday shutout to outscore the Lakers 13-3. In the second round BG lost a pair of one-goal games at Notre Dame, the eventual tournament champion.
“I want the fact that we had to drive to Lake Superior [for the playoffs] to burn –- even though we won,” Bergeron said. “Taking nothing away from anybody, but we should have been playing at home.
“The last four weeks of the season we weren’t very good. I think we turned it around a little bit the last four games, but I don’t think we finished as strong this year over the last four or five weeks as we did last year.”
BY THE NUMBERS: The Falcons scored 100 goals in 41 games, an average of 2.44 goals per game that ranked sixth in the CCHA. In league play BG scored 65 goals in 28 games, or 2.32 per game to rank seventh.
Defensively, the Falcons allowed 105 goals, or 2.56 per game, and also ranked sixth in that area. In CCHA play Bowling Green gave up 75 goals, or 2.68 per contest, and also ranked seventh.
The area that caused the Falcons the biggest problems were special teams. For the season Bowling Green converted just 23-of-168 power plays (13.7 percent) while killing off just 123-of-161 penalties (76.4 percent). BG ranked 10th in the CCHA on the power play and 11th on penalty kill. The Falcons’ minus-20 net on special teams (allowed 20 more special teams goals than they scored) placed then next-to-last in the league.
In CCHA play the Falcons scored on just 14-of-116 power players (12.1 percent) and killed off just 84-of-113 opponent power plays (74.3 percent) to rank last in the 11-team league in both categories. And BG’s special-teams net of minus-18 tied for the league’s worst mark; to put that number in perspective, only four of the 11 CCHA teams had a negative number. It also meant BG nearly gave up one more special teams goal than it scored in every league game.
“That cost us hockey games,” Bergeron said of special teams. “They are two areas of concern, and two areas where we need improvement.
“They are two areas where, when you see the games where we play hard but we lose, we’re going to win those games if we are on the positive side of the special teams battle.”
GOOD NEWS: The Falcons graduate all but four seniors from last season. … BG played well, generally, from Thanksgiving until late in the season. … Bowling Green claimed its fourth playoff series win in three seasons, with all four of those victories coming on the road.
BAD NEWS: With a chance to secure a first-round home series for the first time since 2008, the Falcons struggled at the end of the regular season. … While BG showed improvement, the team still finished ninth in an 11-team league. … Bowling Green must improve on special teams. Bergeron has set a modest goal of 15 percent efficiency on the power play (BG would have ranked only seventh in CCHA play had it reached that number last season). An improvement to 80 percent on the penalty kill would have resulted in six fewer goals for BG’s opponents; shooting for 85 percent success (good for sixth in the CCHA) would have meant 12 fewer goals in 28 games -– and almost certainly a few more wins.
WEDNESDAY: A look at the Falcons’ forward situation.