BGSU hockey finds itself knee-deep in a sticky situation coming out of winter break. The team that had a 12-6-1 record and had just swept fifth-ranked Notre Dame before the January term, has caved in and finds itself with a middling record of 13-11-2.
The Falcons, a team holding a streak of five consecutive season with 20 wins, have fallen out of the nation’s top-20 ranking and will need to battle their way out of sixth place in the WCHA with the hope of retaining home ice for the postseason.
“It’s something that is pretty foreign to us around here. Talking with the seniors, I couldn’t recall anything like this, but they said they started their freshman year 0-6-1 and then got better,” head coach Ty Eigner said.
Since joining the conference for the 2013-2014 season, Bowling Green has ended the year outside the top three just once in 2017. The unfamiliar territory has given this new squad some perspective. Under a first-year bench boss like Eigner, there is always an expectation that continuity from the previous regime will come with a struggle, but Eigner is familiar with the group.
“We’ve done a lot of talking and evaluating over the last couple of weeks, looking at how we’ve gotten to where we’ve gotten and what we need to do,” Eigner said. “Ultimately, we’re the ones that put ourselves in this position and we’re the only ones that can get us out.”
It certainly hasn’t been a complete mess for the Slater Family Ice Arena squad. In a stretch starting Dec. 15 to present day, the Falcons played in eight games. In seven of those games, at some point they held a lead or the game was tied. They only won one of those games. In the outlier, they trailed an entire game against Miami, a team they opened the season against with a 7-4 victory.
Despite continuing to relinquish the upper hand, there have been positives to look at in an attempt to build some morale and momentum headed into the final stretch of the season.
“We’ve had some good efforts that didn’t end up in wins, but that’s college hockey. The margin for error is so small. A bounce here or a save there or a shot there can turn into a big deal,” Eigner said.
Heading into their weekend series with Bemidji State, BGSU leads the nation in power play goals with 31. The main advantage has been the backbone of BG’s offensive production, but the sustainability is questionable, especially against a BSU team that is extremely disciplined on offense.
The Falcons also boast an 8-2-1 record on the road. In the final five series of the season, two of their toughest tests, Bemidji State and Alaska Fairbanks, will come on the road.
In injury news, Eigner shared that Frederic Letourneau, who missed the Minnesota State series with a concussion, “should be good to go” against the Beavers. However, he was not so sure on Adam Conquest and Connor Ford, both dealing with injuries sustained in the Mavericks series. Ford has yet to skate in his recovery.
The Falcons hit the ice on Friday and Saturday at 8:07 p.m. and 7:07 p.m. respectively.