Hockey team prepared for pivotal series

After coming off a split against Notre Dame, the Falcon hockey team welcomes the Michigan State Spartans to the BG Ice Arena this weekend. With only 10 points separating last place from first in the league, every point is huge in these 14 league games for the Falcons.

?It?s a real big series for us this weekend ?from here on out, we are in all CCHA mode with having no more non-conference games and playing only conference games the rest of the year,? head coach Scott Paluch said. ?There are four points available on the weekend and Michigan State is fighting for a league crown, so these points are crucial right now.?

The Spartans come in currently fourth in the league with a record of (12-11-1 overall, 8-5-1 CCHA). They are lead by forward Jim Slater, who is currently second in the nation with 31 points and leading the CCHA in scoring off 13 goals with 18 assists. Forward Mike Lalonde is second on the team with 26 points and 14 goals. Freshman Tommy Goebel is third with 19 points off nine goals and 10 assists.

?They?re a team with Jim Slater up front?I?ve always kind of felt that he is one of the best if the not the best forward in our league,? Paluch said. ?He does so many things and he?s quick, he?s strong, he competes so hard, and he?s strong both ways. He has an ability to make real big plays at the right times?so we really have to watch where he is all weekend.?

In net, the Spartans bring a one-two punch with Matt Migliaccio, and freshman Dominic Vicari. Migliaccio has a goal against average of 3.04, while Vicari brings in an average of 2.23.

?Once again we play a team this weekend where two goalies are involved,? Paluch said. ?Dominic Vicari represented his country at the World Juniors and is off to a great start in his career. We saw Matt Migliaccio in both games last year. They?re both extremely capable and we?ll have to get some consistent pressure on them this weekend.?

The Spartans are coming off a split to UMass-Lowell and the Falcons are coming off a split with Notre Dame.

Forward Brett Pilkington leads the team with eight goals after recording two goals in the last four games. Captain D?Arcy McConvey has been playing some of his best hockey as a Falcon, the last two weekends. He currently leads the team with 16 points after scoring four goals and recording two assists in the last four games, including his first career hat-trick at Minnesota-Duluth.

Jordan Sigalet comes in leading the nation in saves with 655 in 22 games this season. He currently has a goal against average of 2.89 with a saves percentage of .910.

Senior defenseman Kevin Bieksa has been on a hot streak in the last two weeks and currently is fourth on the team in points with 11(four goals, seven assists).

?I went home over Christmas and looked at my season so far?obviously I haven?t been pleased with my point production in the first half,? Bieksa said. ?I?ve come back and had a few points since I?ve been back, but I want to be able to help out the team more than I have on offense.?

He talked about how big McConvey?s play has been to the team and what he is expecting this weekend.

?D?Arcy has been playing really good hockey here, maybe his best hockey since he has been at college,? Bieksa said. ?He came down to my house at Christmas time and we played around a bit?so I like to joke around with him and tell him I?m responsible for his hot streak, but he?s playing good and doing the little things he needs to right now.??We definitely feel good about our play at home and this weekend against Michigan State, the points are important for us,? Bieksa said. ?Last year they came here and we had a chance to sweep them, but they took it to us pretty good in the second game. We got to be able to stop Slater?s line and I feel we got the guys to do that.?The two teams will play both Friday and Saturday night at the Ice Arena with face-offs being at 7:05 p.m.