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BG24 Newscast
September 29, 2023

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Hockey facing off with W. Michigan tonight

From Alaska to Ohio, there will be no shortage of fierce hockey action during this wintery January weekend.

All 12 Central Collegiate Hockey Association teams are facing off against conference opponents this weekend, and thus the second half of the season promises to heat up quickly.

The Falcons (10-10-0 overall, 7-7-0 CCHA) are no exception as they host Western Michigan University (6-15-1, 2-12-0) tonight at 7:05 p.m. for the start of the second home-and-home series this season between the clubs. Lawson Ice Arena in Kalamazoo, MI will serve as the site for the last regular season meeting between BG and the Broncos tomorrow at 7:35 p.m.

Back in November, BG came into the first series with a 1-2-0 overall record, while WMU was playing .500 hockey at the time. With two overtime wins that weekend courtesy of David Solway and Kevin Schmidt, the Falcons were able to start a solid little winning streak that has kept them in the middle of the pack in the CCHA standings.

Meanwhile,Western Michigan steadily sunk towards the bottom.

With two losses to Michigan last weekend, the Broncos now sit a point behind Lake Superior in last place.

This means that the Falcons will face a last place team for the second straight weekend, but that doesn’t make much of a difference to coach Scott Paluch and his players.

‘You look at last Friday’s game [against Lake Superior] that we won, and then Saturday’s we didn’t,’ Paluch said. ‘It’s no different from Miami or Michigan with the way the league sets up. Every game is vitally important. We don’t look at it as who we’re playing, but an opportunity to get some points.’

BG nearly failed to get any points last time around with the Broncos.

In the first game, the Falcons fell behind twice on the road before claiming the 3-2 overtime win. When the series shifted to the BGSU Ice Arena, the home team jumped out to a 4-0 lead, but surrendered four goals of their own in the third period.

Despite a valiant third period effort, WMU was unable to collect a single point when Schmidt scored in the game’s 64th minute. The Broncos are unlikely to go down this weekend without a similar fight.

Patrick Galivan assisted on two of those four third period goals and has since become WMU’s leading scorer as a junior playing right wing.

‘We just need to give this team 110% percent every shift, do our own job, and I think we’ll be all right,’ Galivan said. ‘[BG] got us good last time and we’re going to use that as fuel for this weekend to get four points.’

With motivation like that stacked up against them, the Falcons will need to push themselves even harder to avoid an upset.

Not only is BG’s record even in conference games this year at seven wins and seven losses, but they have scored the exact same amount of goals, 41, as they have allowed.

‘Our record now is such that it allows for us to decide everything that’s in front of us,’ Paluch said. ‘We’d like to find another boost here on both sides of the puck.’

The Falcons should not need any extra motivation to find that boost this weekend considering several different factors are already in place before the first puck even drops tonight at the BGSU Ice Arena.

While BG is taking on the Broncos, Nebraska-Omaha will be up in Alaska trying to collect a few more conference points. With 14 CCHA points, the Falcons could grab a sweep and, at the same time, hop over UNO’s 15 points in the standings.

Another motivator is that during the last meeting, the aforementioned 5-4 overtime win, officials had to assess 14 penalties for WMU and 13 for BG.

Look for more of the same physical intensity on Mercer Road tonight.

‘You see it every weekend [with a home-and-home series],’ WMU coach Jim Culhane said. ‘You’re going to get it because there’s only 28 conference games, and it’s going to be a battle every night, I don’t care who you’re playing.’

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