Offensive struggles have hurt Falcons

Chayse Held and Chayse Held

Four feet by six feet – the amount of space that is in a hockey goal cage. For the BG hockey team this season, that space has appeared quite small.

With their inability to get pucks past opposing goaltenders, the Falcons’ record (5-21-1, 3-16-0) and offensive production have fallen to the bottom of the CCHA. The reason the BG offense has scored only 50 goals this season compared to their opponents’ 110 is not because there is a problem with the nets.

“The biggest problem right now is the end result,” said coach Scott Paluch. “We’re not scoring goals, and we’re certainly not able to generate the offensive momentum and confidence because of that lack of scoring.”

In the midst of a six game losing streak and a 2-17 record in the last 19 games, the offensive struggles of the Falcons have come to the forefront of problems that team needs to fix. In one of the country’s top hockey conferences, the 1.2 goals that BG has averaged in games since Nov. 4 is not giving the team a chance to stay in games night in and night out.

The problems on offense can be blamed on a combination of factors, inexperience and injuries the most noticeable, but BG continues to concentrate on the small parts of the game in hopes of getting some results. With a mixture of 12 newcomers seeing ice time, many playing significant minutes, the offense has seemed out of sync and lacking confidence.

“It’s attention to detail,” said forward Todd McIlrath, whose 11 points rank him fourth on the team. “When you get to a higher level you forget to focus on the basics. Those are the building blocks for higher success. When we get back to that it usually generates into offense for our team.”

Though the defense and goaltending have been inconsistent this season (4.1 goals allowed per game and a .869 save percentage), the lack of goals and struggles on the power play (16-189) are what concerns the BG coaches the most.

“We still believe as a staff that we’re better defensively,” Paluch said. “Over the course of a game in five on five play, we’re a pretty good defensive team. I know the numbers clearly aren’t supporting that, but when we look at our team and the decisions we make defensively, we feel pretty good.”

There have been a few bright spots for the Falcons offensively despite the lack of overall offensive production.

Philadelphia Flyers’ draft pick and assistant captain Jonathon Matsumoto leads the team with 23 points and recorded his 100th career point earlier this season. After getting off to a tremendous start to the season, Derek Whitmore has cooled off a bit, but still leads the team with 12 goals. Newcomers McIlrath, Tomas Petruska (13 points) and Kai Kantola (8 points) have been big contributors to the offense.

But with only nine games remaining on the regular season schedule, BG will be looking for something to ignite the offense and instill the team with the confidence that it has been missing this season.

“It’s not like we’re playing that bad, or that they’re that much better,” Petruska said. “It’s just that we make a mistake and they’ll score a goal, but when they make a mistake we don’t. It has to turn around. It can’t get any worse.”