There’s been a lot of excitement through the first half of the WCHA Hockey season and with the semester break upon us, FloHockey dives into its mid-season award winners for the 2018-19 campaign.
Michigan Tech holds the top spot in the WCHA with a 9-2-1 conference record, but sitting just one point back is Bowling Green, who highlights the awards at the halfway point of the season.
Coach of the Year
Chris Bergeron | Bowling Green
While Bergeron’s team sits a single point back on Michigan Tech, the Falcons’ overall record of 13-3-3 is tops among WCHA teams. Bergeron is 120-73-28 during his ninth season with the Falcons, where he’s led the team to be among the best across the board.
The Falcons have the fifth-best winning percentage (.763), most goals by defensemen (33), second-longest unbeaten streak (6-0-1), second-best scoring margin (plus-1.95), and the list goes on. It’s NCAA Tournament or bust this year and should the Falcons stay true to their game, they’ll make noise come playoffs.
Rookie of the Year
Cooper Zech | Ferris State
Zech is becoming a household name as the freshman continues to carry play along with Nate Kallen. While the 4-13-1 Bulldogs have had a rough first half of the season, Zech is a massive bright spot. He continues to score at every level after being named the BCHL’s Defensemen of the Year in 2017-18.
His 15 points (3 G, 12 A) lead all WCHA freshmen and are second in NCAA freshmen defensive scoring. A modest minus-2 rating also shows he hasn’t been a problem in his own zone for a team with an overall minus-21 goal differential.
Offensive Player of the Year
Brandon Kruse | Bowling Green
The sophomore is just two goals and eight points shy from his freshman season last year, in 22 fewer games to date. Kruse leads the WCHA with 25 points (6 G, 19 A) in 19 games and has been on a roll for the blazing Falcons.
He had a goal and two assists in the team’s last series, a sweep of then No.-3 Minnesota State. His three-point series raised him to first in the NCAA for assists (19) and fourth in NCAA scoring, just four points back from leaders Evan Barratt and Alex Limoges.
Defensive Player of the Year
Alec Rauhauser | Bowling Green
After leading NCAA defensemen in scoring last season, Rauhauser has taken a slight step back offensively. He has remained steady in his own zone and is playing his way to a repeat as the NCAA Defensive Player of the Year.
Where Alec Rauhauser goes, @BGFalconHockey goes. With the @WCHA_MHockey defenseman scoring his first and second goals of the season Saturday, look for both to go upward. #NCAAHockey https://t.co/qNEFGQcfv0— Jacob Messing (@Jacob_Messing) November 21, 2018
The junior has 13 points (2 G, 11 A) through 19 games this season and his plus-10 rating is tied 14th among all defensemen and third among WCHA defensemen. He’s been an integral part of the Falcons during his college career and the team’s success has largely hinged on his own success.
Goaltender of the Year
Ryan Bednard | Bowling Green
Next category, next Falcon. Bednard holds an 11-2-2 record with a 1.72 GAA, .927 SV%, and two shutouts. The junior has improved across the board in each of this three season with the team and is cementing himself as the No. 1 goalie true contending teams need.
Bednard has played the second-most minutes of WCHA netminders this season (905:53) and has stayed consistent for each one of them. His 1.72 GAA is second, his .927 SV% is tied for first, and an .800 win percentage.
Don’t miss these players in action when you can watch them and their WCHA counterparts live, right here on FloHockey, every weekend.
Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @Jacob_Messing.