It’s not often that the Bleacher Creatures at Bowling Green State University fail to fill a section or two at BGSU Ice Arena with rowdy student fans decked out in orange and brown. For their game against the U.S. National Development Program Team (U18), the student section was small in size, but made spectators aware they were proud of their Falcons.
Over 1,700 fans made the tiny arena feel like it was a gold-medal game despite the lopsided score, with the USNTDP coming out on top 6-1.
“Obviously they got a high level of skill,�? BGSU head coach Chris Bergeron said of the USNTDP. “It was the details that were poor. There was some Alaska travel in us, that’s nothing more than an excuse. We talked about not to let it be an excuse and I’m not going to let it be an excuse.�?
After heading to the locker room down 3-0 following the first 20 minutes of play, sophomore Tommy Burke was replaced by freshman Thomas Sholl in net for BGSU. Senior Bryce Williamson scored the lone goal for the Falcons three minutes and 22 seconds into the second period.
Bergeron went on to talk about how turnovers stifled the momentum for the Falcons throughout the game.
“It began to snowball,�? Bergeron said. “And we couldn’t stop them.�?
Considering the game was an exhibition game and does not count in the final standings, Bergeron hopes that the team can take the loss as a learning experience and move on.
“I’m not down-playing this. Our fans deserve better,�? Bergeron said. “But I’m not going to over-play it, either.�?
“We’ve tried a few different things penalty killing-wise since we’ve been here. We’ve gone from all-out pressure, all over the zone to a little bit of a hybrid,�? coach said. “I still think we took dumb penalties.�?
A number of those penalties were from sophomores and juniors, but coach said they should still know better. Taking “dumb penalties�? as coach called them can drastically cut short any momentum the team has and cause a shift in the game.
The scoreboard failed to show the strength of the Falcons penalty kill, which was able to hold the USNTDP team scoreless on all six chances. However, BGSU failed to capitalize on their five chances with the man advantage.
Having a few players out due to injury didn’t help the Falcons with the showing against USNDT but Bergeron hopes a few will be back in time for their games against Northern Michigan University on February 28 and March 1.
“We made the decision on (sophomore Mark) Cooper today, he’s been practicing on the power play,�? Bergeron said of strengthening their power play. “There wasn’t a whole lot of organization or purpose going on the power play. We will need to get that back.
“Believing that Cooper will be back in the lineup, we hope to have more (organization) back,�? coach said.
Scratching Cooper was “(a) coach’s decision�? that Bergeron would not comment further on. Senior forward Cam Wojtala left the game with a lower body injury and will be evaluated this week. The injury adds to the questions on who will lead the power play for the Falcons as they head to Marquette this weekend.
“It was a lower body thing. It may be a precaution to get him out of there,�? Bergeron said of Wojtala’s injury. “It’s one of those things that people (say) ‘Well if you don’t play this exhibition game, you won’t get hurt.’ Well, (junior forward Ryan) Carpenter got hurt in practice.
“To me, I’m not going to let that creep in. Today was an opportunity to play another game. You want to take all the games you can get.�?
The Falcons have four more games left before the first round of WCHA playoffs, including a weekend at home against 8th place Bemidji State on March 7 & 8. They are currently in a three-way tie with Alaska and Lake Superior State for 5th place in the standings. Only two points currently separate BGSU and Bemidji State.