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Newest Falcons making a big impact early

Attempting to fit in as a freshman is hard for anyone joining a team. Making the transition from being the star as a youth player and then finding yourself at the bottom of the totem pole in college can be a humbling experience. However, the group of newcomers on this year’s BGSU hockey squad has been able to do more that just fit in, they have stood out.

The class of 2010 has provided the Falcons (2-3-1) with a much needed early season boost for a team with just three seniors.

With seven freshmen seeing significant ice time for BG, the newcomers have been able to produce in their early opportunities, giving the coaching staff reason to be excited about the future.

“I think they’ve fit in pretty well,” said coach Scott Paluch. “There’s been six or seven that have played significant time, but also the other five guys have done a good job as well. What I like most about the entire class is that they have a tremendous work ethic and have been very good teammates so far.”

The newcomers have not only produced so far for the Falcons, but they have been able to get the job done in the most critical situations.

Goalie Eddie Neville (1-1-1) had a strong first start and received his first win on the road against Providence and stopped 41 shots in a losing effort against defending CCHA champion Miami. Neville ranks second in the nation among freshman netminders in both g.a.a. (2.66) and save percentage (.915).

Forward Tomas Petruska is third on the team with five points (2 g, 3 a) while skating with leading scorers Jonathan Matsumoto and Derek Whitmore on BG’s first line.

Forward Todd McIlrath (1 g, 2 a) scored with less than a minute left in regulation to secure a tie against Alabama-Huntsville.

“We have a really talented class,” Neville said. “Everyone’s got a real good attitude. We’ve been working here since this summer and have been able to have success so far.”

Also newcomers, Tim Maxwell (0g, 2a), Kai Kantola (1g, 0a), Kyle Page (0g, 2a) and James Perkin (0g, 1a) have all recorded points this season. Forward Tommy Dee has also seen considerable action for the Falcons.

“I think when it’s all said and done, we’re going to see a class that contributes in a lot of ways,” Paluch said. “I think there are some players that will be higher end production type of guys but I think the class in general is a class that can get better every year.”

With the success that the class has had so far come expectations. They are expectations that the newcomers are looking forward to fulfilling.

“As a team, I’d love to see us in the playoffs and go on to play in the national tournament and be successful in that,” Kantola said. “We have great potential.”

BG opens its home portion of the CCHA schedule tonight when Lake Superior Sate visits the BG Ice Arena for a pair of games. The puck drops both nights at 7:05 p.m.

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