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Falcons vie for playoff position

03/07/2014, 12:12am EST
By JOHN WAGNER BLADE SPORTS WRITER

BG aims for first-round home series going into last 2 games

BOWLING GREEN — The Bowling Green State University hockey team will host Bemidji State in Western Collegiate Hockey Association games today and Saturday.

The two contests could be the Falcons’ final games of the season. Then again, they may not even be the last home games of the season.

How is that possible?

Welcome to the wacky world of the WCHA, where seven teams are separated by five points in the standings. In a league where the top eight make the playoffs, that means four other teams besides the Falcons still are battling in hopes of avoiding missing the playoffs — but BG also is one of eight teams that could host a first-round playoff series.

Only two teams, Ferris State and Minnesota State, have claimed one of four first-round best-of-three home series. Bowling Green, which needs just two points to clinch a WCHA playoffs spot, will need help in securing a home series.

The Falcons are tied with Alaska-Anchorage with 26 points, two fewer than Alaska and Michigan Tech. BG would need to finish with more points than at least two of those three schools, as well as Bemidji State and Lake Superior behind them, to play at home.

WCHA teams receive two points for a league victory and one point for a tie.

The Falcons are 1-4-1 in their last six games, and BG coach Chris Bergeron said the team understands that its recent struggles have put it in a position where it does not control its fates.

“We can’t control everything this weekend, but what we can control is our games. …,” he said. “We want to play well, knowing that if we play well, we give ourselves a pretty good opportunity [to win] against anybody in the league. …

“If we control what we can, which is our play, we’ll be fine — and the results will take care of themselves.”

While BG may have struggled recently, it also is the only WCHA team to gain a point at Ferris State and to win at Minnesota State, the league’s top two teams. The Falcons also have beaten nationally ranked Colgate and Ohio State this season.

“We’re a team that can hold our own, for sure, but we haven’t played great as of late,” Bergeron said. “We think it’s more mental than physical, so we’re just trying to get out of our own way.”

Both games this weekend will start at 7:07 p.m. Before Saturday’s contest, the Falcons will honor eight seniors — Brett Mohler, Jake Sloat, Chad Sumsion, Ryan Viselli, Andrew Wallace, Bryce Williamson, Cam Wojtala, and Scott Zacharias — who were freshmen during Bergeron’s first season as coach.

“They have meant more than I could put into words,” Bergeron said. “Seven of those guys committed to the staff before us, and [Wojtala] was the first to commit to us. … I can’t tell you how proud I am of each one of those guys.

“They are leaving Bowling Green [hockey] better than they found it. It looks different, it feels different, the perception is different, and the results are different.”

Contact John Wagner at: jwagner@theblade.com, 419-724-6481 or on Twitter @jwagnerblade.

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