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Falcons continue postseason success against Lake Superior

For the third consecutive season, the BG hockey team has advanced beyond the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association Playoffs.

This occurred despite being the proverbial underdog playing on the road. After defeating Northern Michigan in each of the last two postseasons as the No. 11 seed, the Falcons knocked off Lake Superior this past weekend as the No. 9 seed.

Also, in each of those three first-round series, the Falcons lost game one. That backs-against-the-wall feeling is something that BG coach Chris Bergeron thinks may help the team play better.

“It must have something to do with the fact that the season is close to an end and our guys don’t want it to end,” Bergeron said. “But I don’t know if there is anything more to it than that.”

Unlike in the past two years, the Falcons will not have to take on the No. 1 seed in the CCHA in the second round, thanks to Michigan State’s upset of Alaska.

The Falcons still face a formidable opponent in Notre Dame, the No. 2 seed. The Falcons are 1-3 against the Irish this season, with two of those losses coming two weekends ago at Notre Dame.

“The only thing we learned from the last time we played [Notre Dame] is if we play a certain way, we won’t win,” Bergeron said. “We have to play the game a certain way; we’ve played them four times this year and three times we were too off-and-on with that.”

Hammond’s comeback

Following a rough outing against Notre Dame in his first start since Feb. 2, BG goalie Andrew Hammond had a huge rebound series against the Lakers.

He stopped 70 of 75 shots in the three games, good for a .933 save percent. For the weekend, he posted a 1.68 goals-against average.

“I felt like I was fighting it all weekend against Notre Dame,” Hammond said. “To get back in it [last week] and have a full week of practice was good. I was able to set my mind straight, and the team played really well in front of me this weekend.”

While having Hammond in net for the stretch run might have been beneficial for the team, missing six games allowed him to get some rest.

“What I like about that now, in the big picture, is he’s rested,” Bergeron said. “He was a guy we probably would have rode down the stretch and we didn’t have to so he’s rested.”

Playoff performers

During the Falcons’ run to the CCHA semifinals this past season, the line of Ryan Carpenter, Adam Berkle and Dan DeSalvo provided offensive flair to help the Falcons get past Northern Michigan and Ferris State.

In the six games against the Wildcats and Bulldogs, those three combined for 14 goals and 14 assists — 10 of the goals coming from DeSalvo.

While they haven’t been on the same line this year, those three were among the Falcons’ most-productive offensive players against Lake Superior.

Carpenter led the team with five points — three goals, two assists — on the weekend. DeSalvo and Berkle each contributed with two goals and an assist each.

Cam Wojtala, Bryce Williamson and Ralfs Freibergs each also had three points in the series against the Lakers.

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