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.