February 10, 2015 PRINT Bookmark and Share

Team of the Week: Bowling Green

by Joe Meloni/Senior Writer

With four weeks left in the regular season, much of the WCHA race is already decided. Bowling Green is likely a lock for the No. 3 seed in the league's postseason tournament after flirting with a regular-season championship for most of the season.

Minnesota State has a 10-point led over Bowling Green. That dream may have gone for now, but there's still plenty to play for. Prior to last weekend's sweep of Ferris State, the Falcons needed a spark. They'd gone 2-3-2 in their previous seven games with losses against Bemidji State and Lake Superior State and a draw against BSU. There are always going to be a couple hiccups in league play, but the Falcons needed a response.

A sweep against Ferris State was the perfect retort. BGSU used a pair of third-period comebacks to take two games from Ferris State and earn College Hockey News Team of the Week.

Penalty problems and a strong Ferris State defense made things awfully difficult for the Falcons throughout the weekend. Teams that experience postseason success can overcome these problems in the middle of a game and turn a loss into a win with a strong period. The Falcons allowed just one goal on the 12 power plays they gave FSU and won games by winning third periods, 3-0.

"We took a lot of penalties over the weekend," Bowling Green coach Chris Bergeron said. "I think we had eight on Friday. There were only four on Saturday, but one of them was a 5-minute major that we killed off. When you're killing a lot of penalties, it's hard to create offense. We settled down in the third periods both nights. I thought our third periods were our best both nights offensively and defensively."

Even without the four points from last weekend, Bowling Green would have a pretty strong claim to third place and a home series in the WCHA quarterfinals. Nationally, though, the Falcons saw a lot of their success slipping.

The Falcons are currently eighth in the Pairwise, fighting to keep their grasp of an at-large bid. Coming back to get both wins last weekend was a sign of progress for Bergeron.

"We hadn't had a stretch like the one before the Ferris series this season," Bereron said. "We've gotten to the point where we're competing in the standings in the national rankings. I can't fault our guys for not knowing how to handle it. It's a learning process."

The Falcons' success this season won't be decided until next Month and, perhaps, beyond. Since Bergeron took over in 2010-11, BGSU hasn't come close to this position, though. At 17-6-5, they've already won as many games as they have in any season sinc 2007-08, when they went 18-21-0 under Scott Paluch.

Bergeron knew more was possible. For the first time, his players do as well.

"I came with certain standards and expectations that we'd play at a high level," Bergeron said. "What's happened is my standards have become our standards. When you come in you want to compete, but the talent might not be there or the mindset. This year, our players have adopted those standards."

The long-dormant Bowling Green hockey community has noticed as well.

"Our crowds have been great," Bergeron said. "The atmosphere, the excitement, that's what Bowling Green hockey used to be when we were competing for championships. People are excited about our success."

That success likely means hosting a playoff series with a chance for a league championship and a likely trip to the NCAA tournament. None of that is important, though. Right now, it's just about the next game. BGSU plays Ferris State again this weekend, traveling to Big Rapids for a pair of games at Ewigleben Ice Arena.

"We've gotten here just by taking every day one at a time," Bergeron said. "It's worked for us. We need to improve at everything. Right now, we're just worried about today. That's how we'll get where we want to go."

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