Falcons still having trouble winning games

Chayse Held and Chayse Held

After a 20-day layoff over the Holidays, the BG hockey team is back on the ice for the second half of the 2006-07 season.

Despite staggering to a 5-16-1 start, which is good for last place in the CCHA, the Falcons have showed some signs of improved play since returning to action in the last two weekends.

With a split against Western Michigan this past weekend and upcoming series against Nebraska-Omaha and Northern Michigan, BG looks to gain some ground in the league standings.

“It’s not rocket science that we’ve been struggling this year,” said goalie Jimmy Spratt. “But if you look at the schedule, our next few games are against teams that are just above us. If we can get on a run and put a lot of wins together we can make a jump and really turn the season around.”

The Falcons took the first step to turning the year around in their first game of 2007, with perhaps the team’s best performance of the season, a 5-1 drubbing of Western Michigan (7-11-1, 6-8-1) this past Friday. A total team effort was highlighted by forward Jonathan Matsumoto’s 100th career point and a solid showing by Spratt (17 saves) in goal.

Any hopes of a winning streak quickly evaporated Saturday night when Western Michigan answered Friday’s drubbing with a 5-0 victory.

Despite holding a 37-26 shot advantage, BG went scoreless on all nine of its power play opportunities, including a five-minute major at the start of the game. The Broncos scored two goals with the man-advantage and two more shorthanded. They even managed to score a goal while the Falcons had a 5-on-3 advantage.

“We were disappointed tonight,” coach Scott Paluch said following Saturday’s loss. “We wanted to feed off [Friday] night and give ourselves the chance to earn a sweep. Our inability to score goals didn’t give us a chance to do that.”

In the Falcons’ first action after the break on Dec. 29-30, BG joined Ohio State, Miami and Minnesota-Duluth at the Ohio Hockey Classic held at Nationwide Arena in Columbus.

In a non-conference matchup, BG lost its third game to Miami this season; a tight 3-2 decision to the No. 4 Redhawks (15-5-1) in the tournament’s opening game. James Unger, back from injury, recorded his first goal of the season while Matsumoto also scored. Spratt had 19 saves on the game.

“I thought it was a pretty good hockey game for both teams being on the Christmas break,” Paluch said. “What we saw there was their ability to find a way to win hockey games. I gave a lot of credit it to them. They are a top team for a reason.”

In the consolation game, the Falcons faced Minnesota-Duluth in a rematch of the 1984 national championship game. This time the Bulldogs (5-13-3) were victorious, grabbing a 4-3 win. All three BG goals in the game were scored by freshmen: Tommy Dee, Todd McIlrath and Kai Kantola.

BG is back in action tonight on short rest as they travel to Ann Arbor to take on No. 10 Michigan in a CCHA contest.