BGSU hockey head coach Ty Eigner and senior captain Alec Rauhauser met with media Monday morning to preview their upcoming season; at the same time, U.S. College Hockey Online published their first rankings of the season where the Falcons are slated 17th.
Eigner, entering his first season as head coach, will coincidentally match up with his former boss in Chris Bergeron and the Miami Redhawks come Sunday night.
“I think it’s probably the best way to do this is to get it out of the way right away,” Eigner joked, “because at some point we were going to coach against each other, right? It’ll be special, though, at least from my side.”
One key storyline that has latched onto the program this particular year is the personnel changes not only off the ice but on the ice as well. The Falcons received three freshmen to their blueline, but this defensive platoon has put in the time and effort with Eigner throughout their individual recruiting process.
“We’ve been really fortunate over the past five or six years as we’ve been able to attract some really good high-end defenseman to come be a part of our program … So we expect them to come jump in feet first and get after it,” Eigner said.
There will always be a transition for freshman no matter the position they play, but add on top of that being brought into a program vying for its own transition into a national championship contender, and there is plenty to deal with.
The players feel they are ready for that challenge.
“Everyone in that locker room last year was pretty upset with the way the season ended,” Rauhauser said. “I think there’s a lot of motivation from the guys from last year. Even the freshmen probably felt it too and weren’t very happy with it.”
Rauhauser and the defensive core will be tasked with protecting the crease of starting goaltender Eric Dop. The junior keeper from Lewis Center, Ohio, has already appeared in 24 games throughout the course of his Falcon career, but this will be his first as the true starter in net.
“When he got in the games last year everyone was confident. I think maybe he was first (on the team) in save percentage last year. He’s a very confident goalie in the net and the guys are confident playing in front of him, so there’s no change,” Rauhauser said.
Continuity will be need to be present on the ice in order for this program to return to the NCAA tournament, but in order for consistency, there needs to be an understanding that just because Eigner and Bergeron once worked on the same staff, it does not mean they are the same coach.
“I think there’s a different way to do the same things we’ve been doing and the same things we’re known for,” Eigner said. “Me having to be myself is obviously going to be a change for the players. Berge and I are as close of friends as you can have, but we’re different people.”
This is the first time hockey has broken the top 20 of the first USCHO poll of the season since the start of the 2016-2017 season.