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September 21, 2023

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Club hockey starts season with two wins

The BG club hockey team gives players who didn’t receive scholarships to play varsity hockey the opportunity to continue their dream of playing competitive hockey.

“Anyone who has played hockey knows your love for the game doesn’t die,” said Brett Heringhaus, who is entering his third year on the team. “Having the opportunity to continue to play with a club team on campus is hard to imagine living without.”

Heringhaus and fellow BG product Kevin Rawlik are two of five key returning players from last year’s Great Lakes Intercollegiate Hockey Association league tournament championship team.

Goalie Kyle Kittelberger, who got called up to the varsity team at the end of last season, Sam Spurlin and All-ACHA regional team defenseman Kyle Wilson also returned for the Falcons.

After the success of last season, the Falcons expectations are high.

“This season we have higher expectations,” Heringhaus said. “Contrary to years past, we are collectively putting forth a stronger effort to have a more reputable season. Our long-term goals are to repeat as league champions and qualify for nationals.”

Coach Jason Pellek took over as head coach halfway through last season after serving as an assistant coach.

Pellek, a BG alum, played on the club hockey team from 1994-1999.

“It’s an honor to coach these guys because when I played, [the team] wasn’t real organized,” Pellek said. “One of the things I really regretted when I graduated was the fact that [the team] didn’t have more organization. We didn’t have a head coach. We had a player coach. I feel great that I could come back [to BG] and contribute to my alma mater and former team.”

According to Pellek, 55-60 players tried out for 26 spots.

“We were really pleased,” Pellek said. “We had a really strong turnout.”

“We have a lot of guys who came from high-level, high school programs, AAA clubs and junior teams,” Spurlin, who has played on the team for two years, said.

Spurlin, along with Bob Mills, is the president of the team.

The season lasts from the first week of September until early March, depending on how well the team does, Spurlin said.

The team practices twice a week, usually around 10 p.m.

According to Pellek, players pay around $400 each semester. The team also receives money from the University and the club sports office. All the money goes towards travel, various equipment and ice time at the BG Ice Arena.

Pellek said ice time can cost up to $12,000.

Teams joining BG in the GLIHA are Dayton, DePaul, Robert Morris, Illinois and Lindenwood.

Along with league foes, BG also faces Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and several others.

The GLIHA is part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association, which has been the governing body for club hockey across the U.S. since 1991.

The ACHA has three men’s divisions. The Falcons are Division II.

Rankings are given and each team in the Top Ten of their respective region (BG is in the Midwest region) qualifies for the regional tournament. The winner of the regional qualifies for the national tournament, which will be played in Colorado this season.

The Falcons also play in a yearly tournament in Wooster, Ohio, known as “The Battle of Ohio.” Youngstown State, John Carroll and Kent State are usually present at this tournament.

“We play a very competitive schedule,” Pellek said. “We are looking forward to a long and challenging season.”

After starting out 2-0, BG heads to Central Michigan this weekend for a two-game series.

The Falcons’ next home game will be Oct. 12 against the South Jersey Raptors. The game begins at 10 p.m. and will be held at the BG Ice Arena.

“We feel we are on the tip of the iceberg with the positive direction this team is moving toward,” Heringhaus said.

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