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Fightin’ for the Falcons

‘He’s not very big, but he sure can hit.’

That’s what Wilfred Laurier players might be saying after they meet Falcon defenseman Nick Bailen on Oct. 4 when BG opens its hockey season with an exhibition game against the Golden Hawks.

Bailen, a freshman who stands five feet nine inches and weighs 185 pounds, will be his team’s smallest defenseman this season, but don’t think that will stop him from having an impact.

‘He’s kind of the whole package,’ said teammate Brian Moore, a junior and fellow defenseman. ‘He’s really a skilled player and he can hit pretty hard, and that’s surprising because he’s not an overly big guy.’

Moore said he is excited to see what Bailen can do during the season against the tougher teams in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.

‘Playing the teams in our conference, especially with Notre Dame, we definitely need a physical presence to complement the rest of the team’s speed,’ Moore said.

Bailen, also the youngest player on the team this year, already has three years of United States Hockey League experience with the Indiana Ice. In those three years he totaled 42 points, including 13 goals.

Oh yeah, and he was involved in 12 fights in juniors, including four last winter. He even lost one of his two top front teeth in a scrum this past season.

‘His game is equally sound at both ends of the rink,’ said BG coach Scott Paluch. ‘With his leadership skills, he’s as well-rounded as any guy we’ve had coming into the program for a while.’

Bailen sat in the penalty box for more than 300 total minutes during his three years in juniors, including 157 last year alone.

But he knows he’ll have to be more disciplined in college.

‘Now, [in the CCHA] it’s more physical play and puck possession – learning how to do stuff in the corners without getting any penalties,’ Bailen said.

Contrary to what some may believe after what happened against Western Michigan last year at the BGSU Ice Arena, fighting is not permitted in college hockey.

However, that doesn’t mean Bailen won’t play with an edge to his game this season, especially when the team officially opens the season at home in October against the Rochester Institute of Technology and Niagara University.

Bailen, a Fredonia, N.Y. native, said he knows a few people on those two Empire State teams.

‘The goalie on RIT [Jared Demichiel] played on my team in juniors for a while, and I grew up against [Niagara’s] Brian Dowd and Dan Baco,’ Bailen said. ‘Me and Dowd don’t really get along-there’s definitely some bad blood there.

‘We have the same game type because we both like to instigate, so it’ll be an interesting game. We’ll see what happens out there.’

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