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Hockey hosts final home series

This weekend, for the final time in the regular season, the BG hockey team will compete on home ice.

The Falcons take on Northern Michigan on Friday and Saturday. Both games are slated for 7:05 p.m. start times.

Saturday is the team’s senior night, and it will be played against a team whose season the Falcons have ended two years in a row. In both 2010-11 and 2011-12, the Falcons defeated the Wildcats in the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs.

Entering the weekend, Northern Michigan is five points behind BG for eighth place in the CCHA standings. Eighth is the lowest seed that gets to host a first-round playoff series.

“It’s a big weekend for us, we need to get some points out of this weekend,” said Ryan Peltoma, one of two senior defensemen on the team. “Northern is right behind us in the standings, so it’s a big weekend for our team.”

Peltoma is one of four seniors on the team, along with fellow defenseman Bobby Shea, forward Marc Rodriguez, and goalie Andrew Hammond.

They were the final recruiting class BG brought in that had to deal with the direct aftermath of the University’s flirtation with terminating the program following the 2008-09 season.

The senior class has seen dark times — namely a 5-25-6 overall record during the 2009-10 season — and the good times — advancing to the CCHA semifinals this past spring — in what has seemed like a roller coaster four years.

“My first year, I didn’t really know what I was getting myself into with all the talk about the program,” Peltoma said. “It’s been kind of up-and-down since my freshman year, but you can tell [the program] is going in the right direction here.”

Despite the postseason success BG has demonstrated against Northern Michigan, the Falcons have not had that good fortune in the regular season. BG is just 1-5-2 the Wildcats since 2009-10 in regular season games.

“I think there’s something to be said about they last years playoff series’, but I don’t think [Northern Michigan] is going to harp on that,” Bergeron said. “But those kids want to make amends for that, and we have to be ready.”

Despite mediocre CCHA results, Northern Michigan has taken down some college hockey heavyweights away from home this season.

The Wildcats have swept No. 7 St. Cloud State on the road, swept No. 18 Wisconsin at a neutral site, and split a series with No. 14 Nebraska-Omaha on the road.

“There a team that when they’re on the road, I don’t think they care that they’re on the road,” Bergeron said.

The weekend series could determine which team will get home-ice in the first round of the CCHA playoffs. If BG sweeps the series, they will clinch home-ice. If Northern Michigan garners at least a split, home-ice will be determined in the final weekend of the regular season.

“They’re a hard working team and it’s going to be a battle this weekend,” Shea said. “We want home-ice advantage. These points are crucial for us to get.”

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