It was a game 29 years in the making, but unfortunately for the Falcons it ended in defeat. Bowling Green went toe to toe with Minnesota Duluth in the Midwest Regional matchup, but Parker Mackay beats Ryan Bednard in overtime to help the Bulldogs move one step closer to the Frozen Four, meanwhile BG has some changes coming in the offseason

But before the hockey season officially ends, let’s take a look back at a truly memorable and historic season for this program.

Way back in October Bowling Green had in offensive explosion during the first month of the season. They posted 36 goals in their out of conference schedule, including two eight goal performances against Mercyhurst and #4 Ohio State. Add in a sweep of Western Michigan and the Falcons become the ninth ranked team in the nation headed into conference play.

That’s where the season started to shift for Bowling Green. A team that in October and November looked like a lock for an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, was sliding. The “playing to the opponent” narrative begins to shift into place. On one side of the coin, series against Ferris State or Alaska Anchorage, what some would consider easy series, come with challenges. The other side? Third ranked Mankato is swept out of Slater Family Ice Arena with back-to-back 4-1 victories for the Falcons.

There would not be a series sweep for the rest of the regular season. Instead, each series after that Minnesota State sweep would be split including series against Ferris, Alabama-Huntsville, Bemidji State and two against Alaska Fairbanks. This put a cloud over the at-large hopes of Bowling Green, until the WCHA playoffs came around.

Round one of the WCHA tournament saw a clean sweep of Michigan Tech that started with an incredible come-from-behind victory in game one, where BG scored three consecutive goals in the third period 1:46 apart--the game-winning goal coming courtesy of Max Johnson.

Up in Marquette, in a rematch from last season’s WCHA semifinal, Bowling Green avenged a series loss from the previous year when Sam Craggs scored in double overtime to send the Falcons to the WCHA Championship against Minnesota State.

They carried that high with them into the first two periods of that championship match. Frederic Letourneau and Alec Rauhauser put the squad up 2-0, but Bowling Green collapses hard in the final minutes of regulation and the Mavericks tie things up on two extra attacker goals followed by an overtime clinching goal.

While Brandon Kruse’s second period goal against Minnesota Duluth was not enough to lift the Falcons over the Midwest Regional hump, it was a historic highlight for the program. A program that now faces questions headed into the offseason.

The announcement Falcon hockey fans were hoping to avoid this offseason came six days after last game of the season. Friday morning Miami University named Chris Bergeron as their head coach following a nine year stint with Bowling Green.

"On behalf of my family and myself, I want to say a very sincere 'Thank you' for the last nine years," Bergeron said in a statement from Bowling Green Athletics Friday morning. "Your unconditional support from our early rebuilding years to the turnout last Saturday in Allentown has meant more to me than you will ever know.”

It was reported Bowling Green extended an offer to Bergeron that would be a raise in salary. His previous salary with the Falcons was $185,000 annually.

“The last few days have been very difficult for me because President (Rodney) Rogers, Bob Moosbrugger and Jim Elsasser stepped up and showed their commitment to Falcon hockey. Having to choose between two places that I love dearly has been the toughest decision I have ever had to make. Thank you for allowing me to be part of this program that means so much to all of you. We are extremely proud that we are leaving the program better than we found it,” said Bergeron.

Bowling Green State University hockey was on the chopping block when it was put into the hands of Chris Bergeron. From day one a culture surrounding the importance of the hockey program at the university was put in place and has gotten back to the national relevance that it deserves.

Assistant coach Ty Eigner is reportedly a candidate for the open positions, but there will be a national search for Bergeron’s replacement. Here’s a look at who Bowling Green could potentially hire:

1. Ty Eigner (Assistant, Bowling Green, WCHA)

Eigner has been with the Falcons for the past nine seasons alongside Chris Bergeron, but is not rumored to be headed to Miami with him. Working closely with the defense, Eigner has helped the team become a strong penalty killing team and aggressive in their own zone.

He has some head coaching experience at the high school level in Minnesota, including Rosemount and Brainerd. Eigner also served as Bowling Green’s captain in 1992-93 under Jerry York.

2. B.J. Adams (Assistant, Erie Otters, OHL)

A former defenseman for Bowling Green, Adams received team accolades including most valuable player and top defenseman during his 1996-2000 career in the orange and brown. Since then, Adams has gone on to become a defensive mind behind the bench.

As an associate with Canisius College from 2009-2014, Adams led the one of the nation’s top scoring defenses as well as the penalty kill. The Golden Griffins also claimed a 2013 Atlantic Hockey Championship under his guidance.

Working with Kris Knoblaugh and Chris Hartsburg in Erie, Adams has helped the Otters boast a strong and creative defensive core which contributed to the team’s OHL Championship and Memorial Cup Final appearance in 2017.

3. Wayne Wilson (Head Coach, RIT, AHC)

20 years at the Rochester Institute of Technology and just shy of 350 wins as well as a Spencer Penrose Award as the nation’s top coach in 2010. Not to mention he was a part of the 1984 Bowling Green team that won the National Championship.

Wilson signed an extension with RIT in 2015 that runs through the 2021-21 season.

4. Ken Klee (Assistant, Syracuse Crunch, AHL)

After serving as the bench boss for the United States Women’s National Team in 2015 and 2016, former Falcon Ken Klee has spent the past two seasons with the Syracuse Crunch of the American Hockey League as an assistant coach. Another defensive guru of a coach for a Crunch team that has seen a successful penalty kill during his tenure, while allowing the second fewest goals against this season.

Klee, who played three seasons for Bowling Green spanning 1989-92, amassed 41 points in 88 games played on the blueline.

5. Doug Schueller (Head Coach, Saint John’s, D-III - MIAC)

Schueller has his fair share of experience with Bowling Green hockey. He played 138 games for the Falcons from 1997-2001 and was a captain his junior and senior season. Schueller would return to the Slater as an assistant coach for two seasons before leaving for the Saint John’s head coaching position.

6. Dan Bylsma (Assistant, Detroit Red Wings, NHL)

Stanley Cup Champion Dan Bylsma has plenty of experience as a head coach. He spent six years with the Pittsburgh Penguins followed by two seasons with Buffalo Sabres and now has an assistant role with the Detroit Red Wings.

It may be a pie in the sky, but Bylsma is a former Falcon that has shown his support for the program on numerous occasions, including paying for student tickets for the WCHA tournament in 2018.

7. Steve Miller (Assistant, Ohio State, Big Ten)

Steve Miller, 53, has bounced around the world of college hockey for 31 years but has never served as a head coach. After almost 20 years at Denver, Miller won two NCAA championships before transitioning to Providence for one season, where he also won a national title.

Miller has also been on the Team USA World Junior staff for the last three tournaments, including their gold medal win in 2017.

He has also been labeled the “Connor McDavid of assistant coaches.”

8. Jerry Keefe (Assistant, Northeastern, Hockey East)

Keefe, 43, just finished his eighth season with the Northeastern Huskies. His recruitment efforts have brought in names such as Adam Gaudette, Dylan Sikura, Tyler Madden and Jeremy Davies. The powerplay unit Keefe oversees was second in the nation last season and also helped Northeastern capture their first Beanpot in 30 years.

Keefe has interviewed for head coaching positions at Merrimack and Holy Cross in the past, but has been signed to an extension until 2023.

Another change for the program will be on the ice. Along with the seven seniors moving on with their hockey careers, Bowling Green will not see its starting goalie and a fan favorite back either.

Both goaltender Ryan Bednard and forward Lukas Craggs made the decision to forgo their senior seasons in order to sign NHL entry-level contracts with the Florida Panthers and the Nashville Predators, respectively. Bednard, originally drafted by the Panthers in the seventh round of the 2015 NHL Draft, posted a single season record for goals against average (1.77) with the club this year. Craggs, a undrafted free agent, reached career highs as a junior with 13 goals and 12 assists in 35 games.

Connor McDonald, Adam Smith, Shane Bednard, Chris Pohlkamp, Stephen Baylis, Matt Meier and John Schilling make up the previously mentioned senior class graduating at the end of the year. With three key defensemen departing, there will be significant roles on the back end for the taking come October.

Three defenseman are expected to arrive with the incoming freshman class. Garrett Daly, Dylan Moulton and T.J. Lloyd could potentially see the ice next season along with the returners. Lloyd, a Lloydminster, Saskatchewan native, is finishing up an impressive season at the AJHL level with the Spruce Grove Saints. With 45 points in 53 games as a defenseman, Lloyd was named the league’s most outstanding defenseman for the 2018-2019 season.

But before any of those freshman can make a contribution, the eighth head hockey coach in Bowling Green State University will need to be hired. It is a hire that could determine how much commitment and money the administration is willing to pour into hockey. It was a good sign they were willing to give Bergeron a raise, but are they willing to spend at the same level for a new coach? Falcon hockey faithful will be awaiting the answer from Moosbrugger and the rest of his staff.

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