Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A post-regular-season poll comparison

A couple weeks ago on Twitter I made a remark about how grotesque my preseason media poll looked in hindsight.

Some of it was so bad that I thought it would be rather comical to bring in back and do a comparison. Where did everyone finish versus where I picked them to finish? With BGSU on spring break, there is no publication of The BG News this week, so I figured this to be a funny way for some of you to get a BGSU sports fix for the week.

The teams are ranked in the order in which I picked them to finish. Where they actually finished in the standings is in parenthese. If you feel like making fun of me, feel free to leave a comment here or on Twitter, @Ryan_Satkowiak.

1. Michigan (Actual finish: 7): When I was looking at this a couple of weeks ago, I felt a lot worse about this pick than I do now. The Wolverines were 10th in the CCHA and looked terrible. Fast forward to now, Michigan is hosting a first round playoff series and is playing its best hockey of the year. Regardless, I still missed this one big time. While Michigan was one of two CCHA teams (along with Notre Dame) to top 100 goals scored this season, their defense was by far the worst in the league, allowing 17 more goals than anyone else in the league. Losing Shawn Hunwick, along with defections of Jack Campbell and John Gibson to the OHL in recent years left the goaltending cupboard empty, and it showed this season. However, with the way they are playing now, don't be surprised to see the Wolverines in Detroit for CCHA Championship weekend.

2. Ferris State (Actual finish: 5): I was a little less far-off on this one, but the offseason losses Ferris had did have some impact on the team. Despite a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs, the Bulldogs finished a tier below the top three teams in the league. With 43 points in the standings, Ferris finished closer to ninth place than it did third places. The Bulldogs only had a plus-four goal differential this season, but finished fourth in the league in goals-against per game thanks to a great season from sophomore goalie C.J. Motte (2.17 GAA, .927 save percent).

3. Western Michigan (Actual finish: 3): Finally I hit one right on the head. The Broncos actually had an outside chance at the CCHA regular season title heading into the final weekend, but a split with Michigan State, along with Notre Dame's sweep of BG put the Broncos here. They had the second-lowest goal totals in the league, but outstanding play by goalie Frank Slubowski (1.85 GAA .922 save percent) once again make the Broncos a threat in the CCHA playoffs.

4. Miami (Actual finish: 1): If you told be before the season that a team would lose its starting goalie and fall in the standings, I'd have picked that team to be Miami before Michigan. Miami, unlike Michigan, had to replace their goalies with a pair of freshmen. No college experience? No problem, apparently. Ryan McKay had an absolutely outstanding year (17 starts, 1.17 GAA .957 save percent), and the only thing that might keep him from winning CCHA Rookie of the Year is teammate Riley Barber (15 goals, 21 assists). By the way, Jay Williams, the other freshman goalie in Miami's stable, was pretty OK too (19 starts, 1.87 GAA .926 save percent). The RedHawks head into the NCHC next season with a young, stacked team.

5. Notre Dame (Actual finish: 2): In my defense, I did say in my preseason prediction, "don't be surprised to see ND challenge for the No. 1 seed." The Irish came into the season with a loaded offense (and led the league with 107 goals scored) but had huge goaltending concerns. Those concerns were answered by Steven Summerhays, who carried the load to the tune of a 2.03 GAA and .919 save percent in 30 starts. The Irish had a rough patch in the middle of the season that arguably cost them the CCHA regular season title. You can bet they'll want to make up for that in the CCHA playoffs.

6. Northern Michigan (Actual finish: 10): You can't argue how funny it would have been to see Northern finish sixth for a third straight year. The Wildcats weren't bad this year; they finished four points out of seventh place in what turned out to be a cramped bottom of the CCHA. However, they are 4-7 since Jan. 25 and have to play at Michigan in the first round of the CCHA playoffs.

7. Bowling Green (Actual finish: 9): When I was looking at these a couple weeks ago, BG was in seventh and poised to host a first round playoff series. To borrow a quote coach Chris Bergeron used in his press conference last week: the Falcons pretty much choked. That being said, finishing ninth is a step in the right direction. Before the year (in this exact spot) I said the team couldn't afford to lose a key player like Andrew Hammond. I evidently forgot to knock on wood, because Hammond missed a good amount of time this year with separate injuries, including key time down the stretch. Not to knock Tommy Burke, who was outstanding in Hammond's absence, but maybe your senior goaltender steals you a game or two in that time. Regardless, BG is 1-4 its past five games, and Hammond didn't look good Saturday against Notre Dame. The Falcons face an uphill battle to advance to the second round of the CCHA playoffs for a third straight year.

8. Michigan State (Actual finish: 11): I don't think anyone say Michigan State falling from a top-five seed last season to the CCHA basement this season. However, only 57 goals on the season will do that to you. Fun fact: Reid Boucher of the Sarnia Sting in the OHL was once committed to MSU before he decommitted. This season, he outscored Michigan State by himself (Sarnia record 60 goals in 63 games).

9. Lake Superior (Actual finish: 7): I'm going to take this time to gloat for inadvertently predicting a BG-Lake first round. However, as I'm sure you've either heard or were able to infer, the game with be in Ste. St. Marie, not BG like I had inadvertently predicted. 

10. Ohio State (Actual finish: 4): Another one I missed big, Ohio State is solely in the position they are in because of goalie Brady Hjelle. After a slow start to the season, he finished with a 2.00 GAA and .934 save percent. The Buckeyes also had the second highest scoring duo in the league in Tanner Fritz (34 points) and Ryan Dzingel (33 points).

 11. Alaska (Actual finish: 6): After a 10th place finish last season, Alaska exceeded expectations this season thanks to a freshman goalie (sound familiar?). John Keeney came in and posted a respectable 2.33 GAA and .910 save percent, along with a 12-9-3 record in 24 starts. Andy Taranto finished 10th in the league with 27 points. 

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Postgame reaction: BG vs. OIT

(Update: 9:09 p.m.) According the the BGSU Hockey Facebook page, Athletic Director Greg Christopher announced at the Falcon Faceoff Reception that coach Chris Bergeron's contract has been extended two years.

Well, what can I say about this game. It was a complete win for BG. Offensive pressure was great, the defense limited true scoring opportunities, and the Falcons' special teams actually resembled special teams units, to borrow a quote from coach Chris Bergeron. Let's look at a couple of talking points following the Falcons' 9-1 exhibition win against the Ontario Institute of Technology.

Sloat Update

Let's start with the one negative of the game. Junior defenseman Jake Sloat was taken down awkwardly into the boards during the second period of this game and left with an apparent leg injury.

After the game, he was on crutches and had a protective boot (or a cast?) on his right foot. Bergeron said he would likely "be out awhile" with what he called a lower leg injury. He added that it was probably broken, meaning the likely injury here is to his ankle or leg. That's probably a little better than it being a knee, but regardless, that is unfortunate for Sloat, who figured to be a big part of this team this year.

Breakout stars

Last season, in 43 games, defenseman Mike Sullivan had one goal and three assists in 43 games. Tonight, in about 20 or so minutes of ice time, he had one goal and three assists. Yes, the stats from this game do not count toward season totals (it was an exhibition game, after all), but Sullivan's performance is a huge one for BG.

All four of his points came on special teams (two power play assists, a short-handed goal and an assist). It's no secret BG's special team struggled last year. It's also no secret the team has been looking for a blue liner to step up in the offensive end. If he can provide this type of offense from the blue line for the Falcons this season, that would be absolutely huge.

Also having a big game for BG was Dajon Mingo. After a strong debut Saturday against Niagara, he potted two goals and had two assists. Once again, it's important to remember that these stats don't count, but he's another guy who if he can be a productive forward, BG is a much more dangerous team.

He showed is great speed in this game, flying down the left wing boards to draw a hooking penalty, as well as his great shot, scoring twice from the left circle — once on a wicked wrister and once on a massive one-timer slap shot.

Ryan Carpenter scored twice for BG, and Cam Wojtala and Adam Berkle each had two assists. Overall, it was tough to find anything wrong with the Falcons' offensive performance.

'Special' teams

BG's power play unit "actually resembled a power play unit," Bergeron said after the game. After a rough year with the man advantage last year, BG scored three power play goals in five opportunities Sunday. The Falcons cycled the puck well, getting seven shots (most all of them quality chances) with the man advantage.

On the penalty kill, BG was a perfect 6-for-6, and added a pair of short-handed tallies. BG was aggressive with the penalty kill. Bergeron said he thought the team did a good job of making entry into the offensive zone difficult. They did that, and that added aggressiveness led to several strong short-handed scoring chances.

Take everything with a grain of salt

Yes, this was a hugely impressive win. Yes, the Falcons did allow four goals to the same OIT team last season. But it is important to remember the level of competition here is not CCHA level. Dominating the game was something I'm sure Falcon fans loved to see. It's definitely not something we saw much of last year. But things are going to be different when No. 5 Union rolls into town next weekend. They're much more talented than OIT. They will play smarter and won't allow BG to dominate play like they did tonight.

However, let's look at this from a different angle: this weekend, Western Michigan tied Western Ontario. Lake Superior barely slipped by Ryerson. Ohio State needed overtime to beat Waterloo. Several CCHA teams struggled with these exhibition games this weekend. So, despite the level of competition not being elite, BG scoring nine times is no small feat. If this team brings this level of effort and energy every weekend, the sky is the limit for them.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The BG News' CCHA preseason rankings

It's almost that time of the season again: hockey season.

While hockey fans may be robbed of NHL hockey for the time being due to (another) lockout, college hockey will not be affected, and the Falcons open their season Saturday, Oct. 6 at Niagara. BG opens at home the next night with an exhibition game against Ontario Institute of Technology.

With the opener now inside of three weeks, the Central Collegiate Hockey Association has begun tallying votes for both its preseason media and coaches polls. While these polls ultimately mean nothing in the big-picture, they are a fun way to see how your team is predicted to do this season.

I am fortunate enough to receive a vote in this poll, which I have shared with you below. Please note that this is my poll only, and not the collective preseason media poll, which will released within the next two weeks.

1. Michigan: Plain and simple, the Wolverines return a ton of talent. Led by reigning Rookie of the Year Alex Guptill, Michigan brings back 20 letterwinners from last season's second place finish. However, a huge question mark for this team is goaltending following Shawn Hunwick's graduation. Compounding this problem have been recent decommitments by Jack Campbell and John Gibson to the OHL. Junior Adam Janecyk was the only other goalie to see game action last year, playing in five games — one start — with a 3.17 goals-against average and a .897 save percent. Struggles at this position are the only thing that can hold Michigan back this season.

2. Ferris State: Coming off it's first National Championship game appearance in school history, the Bulldogs appear poised to be one of the conference's best teams again. Like Michigan, Ferris loses its starting goalie in Taylor Nelson. Unlike Michigan, Ferris has an established goalie to succeed him in C.J. Motte, who posted a 1.98 GAA in 12 starts last season. Coach Bob Daniels was the conference Coach of the Year last season. Entering his 21st season, he is the longest tenured coach in the CCHA, ironically, behind Michigan's Red Berenson. Despite losing Nelson, Ferris returns 18 players this year, including 12 forwards, on a team that scored the second most goals in the league last year.

3. Western Michigan: There is tremendous parity atop the CCHA this year, with four or five teams who could legitimately win the league title this year. Why I mention this in this post is because Western was your CCHA Tournament champion last season, defeating Miami and Michigan in Detroit. While Western may not be the most talented team in the league, I feel that they have the best chance of unseating Michigan at the No. 1 seed (yes, despite the fact I have them third). Western has perhaps the best goaltending duo in the league in Frank Slubowski (2.03 GAA, .911 SV%) and Nick Pisellini (2.41 GAA, .903 SV%). Chase Balisy might also be the best player in the league this season following a 37 point campaign last season.

4. Miami: Call this one an ode to past successes, but I could see Miami easily falling out of the top five (i.e.: first round bye territory) this season. The goalie problems Michigan has? Miami has it a bit worse. The three goalies who played a game for the RedHawks last season, including CCHA Goalie of the Year Connor Knapp, have graduated. Of the three goalies on the roster, two are freshman and none have any college experience. Also gone is captain Reilly Smith. The talent is still there, but if they don't get their goaltending figured out, they could fall quickly.

5. Notre Dame: I have the Irish a bit low here, mostly because if its late-season collapse still fresh in my mind, but don't be surprised to see the them challenge for the No. 1 seed. ND loses two pretty important forwards in Billy Maday and Riley Sheahan, but return 20 players, including outstanding forwards T.J. Tynan and Andres Lee. Goalies Mike Johnson and Steven Summerhays had mediocres years last year: as a team, the Irish had only a .893 save percent last season. If those two can improve, the Irish will be tough to beat.

6. Northern Michigan: The Wildcats have finished in this spot each of the last two seasons, and will once again likely fall in the middle of the back. Justin Florek (36 points) is the team's biggest loss, but the Wildcats return 18 players from last season, including all six defenseman and starting goalie Jared Coreau (2.22 GAA, .928 SV%). As long as they don't have to face BG in the first round of the playoffs for the third straight season, I'm sure they won't mind where they finish.

7. Bowling Green: In all honesty, this is a tough one to predict. I would not be surprised to see BG crank out a top-5 seed and earn a first round tournament bye, and at the same time I would not be surprised to see the Falcons finish bottom two again should something go wrong (meaning an injury to a key player, namely Andrew Hammond). The talent level on this team has grown significantly the past two seasons, and the team now has the experience to match that skill. One thing is for sure, no one will be sleeping on the Falcons this season, and the Falcons won't be afraid of playing anyone.

8. Michigan State: Beneath the record, the Spartans were good, not great, last season, despite a top-5 seed. Michigan State only had a +8 goal differential last season, which was significantly worse than any of the other top-5 seeds. While the Spartans bring back some strong players in Lee Reimer (31 points) and Greg Wolfe (26 points), they lose a lot as well. The team only brings back 12 players, and lose the Conference Player of the Year in defenseman Torey Krug (34 points).

9. Lake Superior: While the Lakers do return 20 players this season, they lose a large part of the nucleus of the team in forwards Fred Cassiani  (22 points) and Kyle Jean (24 points) and defensemen Kyle Haines (23 points) and Zach Trotman (21 points). That beings said, they do return their three leading scorers for last season. Goalie Kevin Kapalka (2.67 GAA .916 SV%) will need to step up his game to help pick up the slack.

10. Ohio State: This isn't as much as the Buckeyes being worse than last season (they finished tied for eighth in the conference with Notre Dame), I just don't see them as being better than last season. Most notably, they lose goalie Cal Heeter, who started 30 games last season. That role will not fall to senior Brady Hjelle, was was good in a limited role last season, posting a 2.53 GAA and .922 SV%. His success will likely determine where Ohio State ultimately falls in the standings this season.

 11. Alaska: The Nanooks round out my poll, after finishing 10th in the league last season. The great news for Alaska is they return leading scorers Cody Kunyk (32 points), Andy Taranto (26 points) and Colton Beck (25 points). The bad news for them is, like several other teams in the league, they enter the season with goalie questions.  Gone is starter Scott Greenham (2.47 GAA, .905 SV%). The heir apparent to the starting role is senior Steve Thompson, who posted a 2.92 GAA and .866 save percent in three starts last season. Those numbers do not bode well for a team that carried a -13 goal differential in CCHA games last season.

Friday, April 13, 2012

BG Football Spring Game Live Blog

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Falcon Rugby beats Toledo Celtics laden with BG Alums

By Max Householder

The BG Rugby team got another confidence boosting win on Saturday when they took down the Toledo Celtics by a score of 38-10. As mentioned in Fridays preview, the Toledo Celtics are a "Senior men's team"  riddled with Alums of Bowling Green Falcon Rugby.
One of those alums, Joey Newton had the only 2 trys of the day for the Celtics. The game started out slow for the Falcons, much as they expected due to the fact that many of their former players on the Celtics had a knowledge of the Falcons playbook.
"This happens to a certain extent every time we play an Ohio senior men''s team," Rugby Director Roger Mazzarella said.
  "This time was a little exceptional as all the ex-Falcon players had left BGSU within the last two years and were pretty versed in the current Falcon offensive and defensive schemes.
It took a fair amount of hard work for the Falcons to open things but once they got in that 10-0 hole, things only got better. The Falcons at one point even went on a 17-0 tear during a period where Toledo had them down.
Things got interesting just 10 minutes into the second half when 2 Falcon players got ejected, leaving BG at a 13-15 man advantage to Toledo. This had no effect on the ending result as the Falcons were already up 21-10 at that point. In fact, it was also at that point that BG went on their 17-0 tear that put the final tally at 38-10.
It was another dominating scoring effort by the Falcons as scoring trys was Flanker Frank Viancourt, Hooker Mike Brown, Dominic Mauer and Nick Mussara(2). BG will play at Ohio University this Saturday at 1pm.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

BG Men's Golf in Third After First Day

The BG men's golf team is in third place after day one at the 2012 Rutherford Intercollegiate. The first round was supposed to be 36 holes total, but the first round was delayed resulting in only first round completion and part of the second round.

BG shot a 303 on the Blue Course at Penn State University which is only two shots off the lead controlled by George Mason at 301. In second place is Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a 302. Right behind the Falcons at 304 is a three way tie for fourth place between William and Mary, Connecticut and Penn State. Mid-American Conference opponents Miami Ohio (310) and Eastern Michigan (313) are in the field as well who sit in eighth and 11th place respectively.

Individually leading the way for BG is Wes Gates who fired a 75 on his first round and is tied for eighth place. Tied for 12th place after shooting scores of 76 is Parker Hewit, Drew Preston and Chris Melvin. Rounding out the Falcons first round play is Charlie Olson who fired a 78 and is tied for 35th. Also, competing as just an individual from BG is Joe Cooper who carded a 77 and is tied for 22nd. Leading the tournament individually is Kevin Yerks of George Mason who shot an even round of 71.

Play will resume at the Rutherford Intercollegiate at 10 a.m. this morning with a shotgun start. The final round will begin immediately as the second round is complete.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BG Rugby gets back on track with convincing win over Michigan

By Max Householder

After losing 3 of their first 4 matches the Bowling Green Falcon Rugby Club got back to their winning ways with a convincing 89-0 victory over the Michigan Wolverines on Saturday night. BG continues its dominance over the Wolverines as they have not lost to them since 2004.
BG started strong, scoring their first try just ninety seconds into the game and had a convincing 60-0 lead at halftime.
Junior Mike Brown described the Falcons play over the last two weeks as "the best two weeks of the season" for the Falcons as although they lost their last two the performance has gotten better.
"This was a really important game for us, I mean we knew they weren't a good team but we were still focused on executing accordingly," Brown said.
The Falcons were clearly the better team: they were bigger, faster and more athletic on the outside than Michigan and those advantages were easy to see. Momentum swung intensely in BG's favor when coach Tony Mazzarella made a bold move and moved Nick Musarra to scrum half while Ben Marshall who normally occupies that position was moved to fly half. This move proved to be beneficial for the Falcons averaged nearly a point a minute throughout the game.
Scoring trys for the Falcons were Mike Zeigler(4), Dominic Mauer(2) and Scrum Half Nick Mussara who also had 2 trys. Taking over conversion kicking duties was Prop Dane Szente who made 12 of 13.
The Falcons will look to build on this win next week when they travel to Toledo to take on the Toledo Celtics Saturday at 1pm.