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Published: Friday, 2/1/2013

Falcons hockey team trying to boost playoff hopes against Lake Superior St.

BY JOHN WAGNER
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BOWLING GREEN — Bowling Green hockey coach Chris Bergeron admits he has started to peek at the Central Collegiate Hockey Association standings.

One look will show him that his team’s games this weekend against Lake Superior State present an opportunity for the Falcons to secure home ice for the CCHA playoffs for the first time since 2008.

But Bergeron hesitates to call today and Saturday night’s 7:05 p.m. games against the Lakers at the BGSU Ice Arena “must-win” contests.

“I don’t like the idea of a ‘must-win’ [series], but I do like the expectations that come from that,” he said. “I don’t know if I’m a huge believer in the statement ‘must-win’ — because what if you don’t win?

“We still have eight games left, so do we just go away or stop playing? Of course not. But this is a big weekend for us.”

Bowling Green enters this weekend with an 8-13-5 overall record and a 5-10-3-1 mark in the CCHA. The Falcons are tied with Michigan for ninth in the 11-team league with 19 points, one behind Northern Michigan in eighth.

The advantage BG has is that it has played two fewer league games than both the Wolverines or Wildcats, and NMU holds the final home-ice playoff berth.

Bergeron knows that figuring out how to claim home ice and actually claiming it are two different things.

“That really comes down to winning games,” he said. “We’ve got 10 games left — five at home, five on the road. [As a team] we talked about those opponents and those buildings.

“And we came to the same conclusion: We cannot let a bad weekend last weekend ruin what started as a pretty good second half.”

The bad weekend was last week, when BG suffered 2-1 and 3-1 losses at Miami.

“Last weekend and the Union weekend were probably our worst two weekends of the year,” Bergeron admitted. “Even when we were swept by Ferris State, I thought we played well. Those were two games that could have gone either way.

"[Last weekend] our fight, our competition level wasn’t very strong. There were times I thought we weren’t right, not in the moment, not looking at the opportunity to beat a top-ranked team.”

While Bowling Green has lost its last three games, the Falcons had won three straight prior, including victories over nationally ranked Notre Dame and Western Michigan at the Ice Arena.

“We feel there’s a certain level of redemption we have to earn back,” senior goalie Andrew Hammond said. “When you’re disappointed with the results you’ve had, you’re going to work a little harder.

“We didn’t have our best weekend last weekend, but this gives us an opportunity to get going on the right track again.”

Six of BG’s next eight games are against teams the Falcons are fighting for home ice in the playoffs, and Hammond said this stretch is an exciting opportunity for the team to get rolling entering the playoffs.

“When you look at these games down the stretch, each one becomes more important since you’re trying to build momentum down the stretch,” he said. “When you see what we did last year, you can see how important that can be.

“We always play for pride, but knowing there are standings implications is new for us — and it’s exciting. It’s good knowing Friday and Saturday night mean something. And the fact that we still have an opportunity to host a home playoff game is the goal right now.”



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