Improving Bowling Green Looks Toward Stretch Run
by Caleb Saunders/CHN Reporter
After struggling through a 1-7-2 stretch earlier in the season and still in search of the program’s first better-than-.500 season since 1996-97, Bowling Green’s recent run has put its opponents on high alert as the CCHA enters its stretch run.
The Falcons were 6-2-2 in their last 10 before arriving in Miami this past weekend, including a convincing 5-1 win against the reeling Michigan Wolverines in Ann Arbor, a 4-2 win against Notre Dame, and a 3-2 win against Western Michigan.
“The resiliency that we’ve built up over the last couple years has shown itself again,” said Chris Bergeron, head coach of the Falcons. “We haven’t let negative results steer us away from the big picture.”
The Falcons have five conference wins so far this season, which ties the amount that they accumulated all of last season. They then went on a remarkable playoff run that took them to the CCHA semifinals.
Bergeron, a 1993 alumnus of Miami, is in his third season with Bowling Green, and the Falcons have seen a steady increase in their level of success on the ice. They didn't have the instant turnaround that other programs enjoyed in recent years, but the progress is clear. December and January have been a tall order for the Falcons but they’ve been able to achieve victories against some of the top teams in the CCHA.
“We knew this stretch of our schedule was going to be very difficult,” said Bergeron.
Last year, Bergeron elected not to appoint any captains. This year’s team features two captains, sophomore Ryan Carpenter and junior Cam Wojtala. Carpenter leads the team in goals and points, tallying 10 goals and 11 assists in 26 games. He’s also currently on a 10-game point streak.
Said Bergeron, “First and foremost, Cam and Ryan got the full support of their teammates. They were the two names that came out of the discussion between each player. We want to get input from our players.”
Carpenter remains humble even after being named a captain as a sophomore.
“It’s a huge honor, and I’m thankful that my coaches and teammates think that much of me,” said Carpenter. “I want to be the best I can be.”
Bergeron knows there will be growing pains, but he believes the two can continue to lead an improving program.
“I think they’ve struggled with wearing the two hats, the player hat and the captain hat,” said Bergeron, “but it’s not easy and I still believe in them wholeheartedly. Their example is great individually.”
The decision came after Bergeron felt that his pair of sophomores earned the captaincy over the team’s senior players.
Said Bergeron, “We didn’t feel that the leadership was in our senior class. I’m looking for older guys to step up.”
Perhaps, considering recent history, it isn’t entirely surprising that the Falcons have started to play better as the CCHA regular season winds down. After all, in last year’s CCHA Tournament, the Falcons enjoyed a memorable postseason surge after finishing in last place in the CCHA regular season. They defeated Northern Michigan and eventual national runner-up Ferris State before losing in double overtime to Michigan in the league semifinals.
Bowling Green was in fact the first-ever No. 11 seed to reach the CCHA semifinals.
Unfortunately for the Falcons, Bergeron and his squad were swept this past weekend in Oxford against Miami. But as they look to prepare for a weekend series against Lake Superior, Falcon fans can be reassured that the team is in the hands of an enthusiastic coach and a pair of young captains who experienced postseason success just a year ago.