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Putting the past behind us

BG’s Falcon hockey team is now done with arguably its most tumultuous offseason in program history.

Since the team was bounced from the first round of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association playoffs last season, the team has been experiencing a great deal of turmoil.

First came fans calling for the head coach’s job, then the departure of star players like Dan Sexton, Nick Bailen and David Solway.

All that was followed by a weeklong period when speculation grew that the program might be cut from the University, spawning mass production of ‘Support Falcon Hockey’ memorabilia.

But, the program was given assurance it wouldn’t be cut, the Ice Arena was given funds toward renovations and Solway, a junior, came back to the team.

‘It was just a really difficult situation,’ said captain Kyle Page.

Page, as well as the other members of the team, is reluctant to talk about the drama filled off-season. Instead, they insist on focusing on their collective excitement for the 2009-10 campaign, which begins tonight at Minnesota State-Mankato.

‘There’s a real excitement,’ Solway said. ‘I’m more excited than I was last year.’

Despite the growing assumption that this year’s team is punctuated by its youth, it’s the experience that could turnover success.

While the program does welcome in 10 freshmen, it will be suiting up nine seniors, the most BG has ever had in a senior class.

First-year coach Dennis Williams has already openly stated that Solway is the team’s ‘best player’ and can’t stress enough how much he means to the team.

Page, who captained the team last season as a junior, brings as much experience and poise as anyone else in the CCHA.

For the first time in two years, the Falcons will enter the season knowing who their goalie is. Setback by injuries and an upperclassman ahead of him, junior Nick Eno finally gets his chance to have the starting position going into a season.

Eno enters the season with high hopes, and is one of two Falcons who have been selected in the NHL Draft. The Buffalo Sabres selected Eno before his freshman season.

The second player drafted is freshman Jordan Samuels-Thomas.

Samuels-Thomas was selected by the Atlanta Thrashers earlier this year and will look to impress in his first season in BG.

Aside from the senior leaders and the youthfulness of the Falcons, there are also gems to be found in the sophomore and junior classes, most notably Wade Finegan.

Finegan opened up the 2009-10 season on Saturday by recording an unofficial hat trick, scoring two goals in regulation and a third in the shootout, in an exhibition against Wilfrid Laurier.

But the Falcons have run into some adversity already as several players will not play this weekend.

Solway took a vicious hit in the team’s exhibition game and will not play. Freshman Ian Ruel, from Slovakia, is waiting for word on his eligibility.

‘We’ve done everything on our end,’ Williams said. ‘We’re waiting on eligibility from them.’

Seniors Kai Kantola and James Perkin will miss the opener because they are serving a suspension that they each received in the team’s finale last season.

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