After nine seasons at the helm of the Bowling Green Falcons, head coach Chris Bergeron left the program to coach at his alma mater, Miami University, but new coach Ty Eigner inherits a team set for success in the 2019-20 season.
Bergeron led the Falcons to a 171-154-44 record during his tenure and ended a near-30-year NCAA Tournament drought, coming off the team’s first national tournament bid since 1990.
Eigner—who spent the last nine years as an assistant on Bergeron’s staff—is already familiar with his players and the program and the numbers have them pegged for increased expectations following their highest win total since 1995-96.
The Falcons went 25-11-5 in 2018-19 on the heels of a potent offense and solid goaltending. With their top four scorers returning in the fall and three entering their junior seasons, Eigner will likely have a few offensive breakouts on his hands.
Eigner’s familiarity should help his players take the next step and build on a stellar 2018-19 campaign.
Vegas Golden Knights prospect Brandon Kruse led the team with 31 assists last season, which ranked him fourth in the nation. He built off of his freshman numbers, and his puck distribution was a large part in the team’s threatening offense.
His 41 points (10 G, 31 A) in as many games placed him behind only Max Johnson in team scoring and 20th in the nation. His ability to dish the puck will help bring out his teammates’ offense even more.
Johnson was one of four Falcons to finish with double-digit goals, leading the team with 19 goals and 43 points, which landed him 13th in league scoring. The pending junior added 13 points (6 G, 7 A) to his freshman totals in the same number of contests.
Johnson will be relied on to increase his offense numbers once again, as only four players returning for the upcoming season bested his goal total from 2018-19. Only three of the 13 players who finished with more points are set to return this fall.
It sounds like a lot, but of the seven graduates, only Stephen Baylis, John Schilling, Chris Pohlkamp, and Connor McDonald suited up for more than 30 of the team’s 41 games. Baylis captained the Falcons in 2018-19 and finished sixth in team scoring.
Forward Lukas Craggs signed with the Nashville Predators, choosing to forgo his senior season. He finished fifth in team scoring and third with 13 goals. Goaltender Ryan Bednard also opted out of his senior season, signing with the Florida Panthers. Bednard went 20-8-4 with a .927 SV%, 1.77 GAA, and three shutouts.
5TH IN TEAM OFFENSE
The Falcons finished fifth in the league for team scoring with 133 total goals. Their position drops slightly in a per-game ratio, as they finish seventh with a 3.24 goals per-game (133 goals/41 games).
Their nine departures accounted for 33 total goals, which for the fun of it, would have placed the Falcons 33rd in offensive output last season, just below the middle tier of the 60 Division I teams.
But the lost ice time from the graduating class will be filled up with incoming freshmen and those who earn larger roles. Offense, particularly replacing the lost offense, shouldn’t be a problem for the Falcons with the high-end talent in the program.
3RD IN TEAM DEFENSE
On the other side of the ice, only two teams allowed fewer goals than the Falcons last season. While Bednard played a significant role in keeping that number to a minimum, the Falcons’ strong defense, led by Alec Rauhauser, certainly didn’t drag its feet.
On a per-game basis, only WCHA rival Minnesota State surrendered fewer goals. The loss of a big-time No. 1 goalie is never easy to replace, but as we get down to our last statistic, there may be a replacement in line.
1 ERIC DOP
The loss of Bednard leaves the biggest question mark for the Falcons for the upcoming campaign, but sticking to the numbers, Dop is ready to pick up the slack and contribute to another NCAA berth in 2020.
Dop went 5-3-1 during his limited time as a sophomore, but the fact that three of his five victories came in the form of shutouts suggest he’s ready to take the reigns. With three shutouts in a limited role, his .948 SV% and 1.34 GAA might be slightly inflated, but he’s got a strong team in front of him eager to build on last season and help him become the guy in 2019-20.
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