Leading the Bowling Green Falcons hockey team on the ice this season was senior defenseman and captain Alec Rauhauser. Rauhauser, standing six feet and 215 pounds, racked up 11 goals and 35 points in 38 games this season from the blue line. His hard work over the past four years as a Falcon has paid off recently as he signed a one-year entry-level contract with the Florida Panthers organization. Although Rauhauser's career as a Falcon ended abruptly due to COVID-19, his hockey career will not.
“It was a really weird ending to everyone's season,” Rauhauser said. “Eigs (Falcons Coach Ty Eigner) told us in the Mall of America parking lot that our season was over. With the way we were playing at the end of the year, we felt good about trying to make the NCAA tournament again, so we were disappointed with that. With the way that everything has played out it was probably smart to cancel it though.”
Rauhauser was named to the Hobey Baker watch list earlier this season which honors college hockey's top overall performer.
“There's a lot of talent in college hockey, so for me to just get recognized it was pretty special for me to show my hard work over the last few years was paying off,” Rauhauser said.
While moving on to the Panthers, Rauhauser will have a familiar face waiting for him: former Falcons goaltender Ryan Bednard.
“I'm really close with Bedzy. I was roommates with him for two years. When I first started talking to Florida, I told him. I think he is pretty excited, just like me, to be joining each other again,” Rauhauser said.
The thing that stood out to the defenseman about the Panthers organization was the chance to come in and compete for a spot and ice time. While his agent talked to a few other organizations, Florida provided Rauhauser with the most serious opportunity.
“When I first stepped on Bowling Greens campus I knew I loved it here and it would be hard to leave,” Rauhauser said. “The experiences I've had here have been unreal so I’m glad I stayed for four years. My end goal as a player was to sign an NHL contract which I accomplished.”
Rauhauser came to the Falcons program as a 21-year-old freshman after three successful seasons for the Des Moines Buccaneers in the USHL. Before that, he grew up in Bismarck, North Dakota.
“BG to Bismarck is about 16 hours and I usually drive that in the summer going back and forth,” Rauhauser said. “The distance (Florida) didn't really play a factor for me because I’ve been traveling far for quite some time now.”
While Rauhauser has always been dynamic on the offensive end, it has been developing into a two-way defense that has helped him the most at Bowling Green.
“I've had to work on my defensive game over the years,” Rauhauser said. “When I came here I had the offense, which just comes pretty natural to me. But working on my defensive game, I think that's my biggest improvement over the past 4 years here.”
During his time as a Falcon, Rauhauser has gotten to play with several players currently playing professional hockey, among them being Lukas Craggs, Stephen Baylis and Connor McDonald.
“I've gotten to talk to Lukas quite a bit, our class was pretty tight,” Rauhauser said. “Stephen and Connor too. I've asked some questions here and there about what it's like and they've done a good job giving me some insight into what pro hockey is all about. I think I'm pretty well prepared on what to expect.”
While he knows he has his work cut out for him, Rauhauser’s goal is to try to dress in some National Hockey League games as soon as possible.
“I think I’m most excited for seeing how I match up against other guys,” Rauhauser said. “I think I've done pretty well in college. I'm looking for the challenge of seeing what pro hockey is about and if I'll be able to fit it there. I'm excited to challenge myself against other talented hockey players.”
While it is obvious that Alec is excited for the opportunity that professional hockey presents, he will look back fondly on his time as a Bowling Green Falcon.
“There's so much I'll miss about Bowling Green,” Rauhauser said. “The culture is great here with how everyone supports BG hockey in the community and how the program has turned around. I think the atmosphere at the rink is what I'll miss the most.”