Team of the Week: Bowling Green
Falcons' six-game win streak is second best in the nation
CHN Staff Report
Bowling Green seemed to have reached the bottom in December, blowing a 3-0 lead to Clarkson before losing that game to drop its record to 4-11-1. But the next night, the Falcons rose from the ashes, and played one of their best games of the year, a 6-4 win over St. Lawrence before heading into the holidays.
Since then, Bowling Green hasn't lost. And coming off a two-game sweep, combined with the cumulative effect of the holiday tournament (and last Tuesday's 4-0 win over Colgate), Bowling Green is CHN's first Team of the Week of the new year.
A six-game winning streak is the second-longest in the nation right now, and this weekend's home-and-home sweep of the Buckeyes vaulted the Falcons into sixth place in the CCHA, just four points out of third, but just three points out of last.
"The guys are really paying attention to making sure we focus on what it takes to making the team successful," said senior goalie Jon Horrell. "The mental approach to the game."
The turnaround started with that St. Lawrence game, a 6-4 affair against a very talented offensive team. BGSU has allowed just six goals in the five games since, and Horrell, who had been alternating with freshman Jimmy Spratt, has been getting the bulk of the time lately.
"That seemed to hurt us a bit [the Clarkson loss], but the guys regrouped very well," said Horrell. "We came back the next day against St. Lawrence with the idea that it was the last game before break and we can't go out on that note. It was a game where we had that sense of desperation."
Goals are coming from a variety of sources, including sophomores Alex Foster, Derek Whitmore and Jonathan Matsumoto, senior Mike Falk and junior James Unger. Sophomore Mike Nesdill has been a revelation on defense, and is a plus-6 on a team where no one else is better than a plus-1.
Former Falcon Scott Paluch still has work to do getting his alma mater back near the top of the CCHA consistently, but, now in his fourth season, he has improved the team from 8 to 11 to 16 wins, and could go a notch higher yet if things break right this season.
"He wants a very enthusiastic and prideful team," said Horrel. "The team morale has been very high [since the SLU game]. He's gotta be happy with the attitude the team has had since then. He wants grit and hard work."
This weekend, the Falcons play last-place Western Michigan, which is one of those classic traps.
"The league is so close," said Horrell. "We managed to pull four points from Ohio State, but if Western does that to us, they'd move ahead of us. ... Anyone can pull out a turnaround. So you have to play every opportunity as if you're playing Michigan or Miami.
"Getting [to The Joe] is a realistic goal if we continue to play like this. We can't afford to slack off."