Making BG hockey ‘sexy’

Sean Shapiro and Sean Shapiro

On a wall in the player’s and family lounge at the BGSU Ice Arena there is a special space saved for the photos of those Falcons who have gone on to the NHL.

The wall is a trip down storied history of Falcon hockey, featuring the photos of Mark Wells, a four-time Stanley Cup champion and a member of the 1980 Miracle on Ice team, and Brian Holzinger and George McPhee, who both won the Hobey Baker Award given annually to college hockey’s best player.

Just over 40 years of hockey history has left the wall filled to capacity, but sooner than later they’ll have to make room for one more picture on the wall.

‘Yeah, they’ll have to do that pretty soon here,’ said junior David Solway.

Solway is referring to his close friend and former line mate Dan Sexton, who made his NHL debut for the Anaheim Ducks on Dec. 4 at Minnesota.

Since his debut, which came roughly 20 miles from his hometown of Apple Valley, Minn., Sexton has been one of the hottest players in the NHL scoring five points in his last four games.

He scored his first two career goals Dec. 9, helping Anaheim come back from a 3-1 deficit late in the first period.

Sexton’s first career tally came off an easy put away to the right of Dallas goalie Marty Turco, and then, with 62 seconds left, he carried the puck all the way from his own blue line, weaving between three opponents and sneaking a shot past Turco, to tie the game at three.

‘Take my coolest previous feeling and multiple it by 10, if not more,’ Sexton told NHL.com after the win against Dallas. ‘That is what it was. I thought we were due to score, but once it actually happens, you’re in shock. To get another one after that, it just felt like a dream. It was unbelievable.’

Anaheim later won the game in overtime on a goal by Sexton’s line mate Saku Koivu.

Sexton followed his two-goal performance with a goal and an assist against Detroit in a 3-2 overtime loss on Friday night.

For Sexton the game in Detroit was even more special, since Detroit is only about an hour and a half drive from Bowling Green.

‘Probably 10 or 12 guys made the trip up here, most of my buddies are on the team but I do have [some] who go to school at Bowling Green and I think it is really awesome they made the trip up here,’ Sexton said.

Sexton continued his scoring streak in three games against Columbus on Saturday, giving the Ducks an early 1-0 lead in an eventual 3-1 victory.

Not only has Sexton been scoring points for the Ducks, he’s also been playing consistent hockey at both ends of the ice, posting a plus 5 and even seeing limited time on the Ducks power play.

It’s been a pleasant surprise for the Ducks, considering Sexton has filled in well for the injured Teemu Sellanne.

‘He’s just finding ways to make his mark, anytime young player like that steps in he grabs attention. He’s not a big guy, but he’s around the puck and he’s competitive for it,’ said Anaheim coach Randy Carlyle.

At the beginning of the season, it seemed unlikely that Sexton – who signed a professional contract with Anaheim following his sophomore season at BG – would even be put in the position to impress Carlyle this season.

Sexton began the season with Bakersfield of the East Coast Hockey League after failing to make it with the Ducks’ American Hockey League affiliate – the San Antonio Rampage.

Stuck at one of the lowest levels of minor league hockey, Sexton scored 13 goals in 18 games before finally getting his chance to make a jump to the AHL. In fact, it wasn’t the Ducks who called Sexton up to the AHL, but the Manitoba Moose (an affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks) who asked the Ducks for his services due to injury.

In his first game with the Moose, Sexton had two assists and 10 days later he was making his NHL debut, due to a hand injury to Sellanne.

‘I started off in the East Coast League, which was pretty low, but I worked my way up to here and nothing’s changed,’ Sexton said. ‘I feel the same way I always did, keep my same mentality every game.’

One player familiar with Sexton’s work ethic and game mentality is Solway. The two have been friends ever since they played against each other in juniors after graduating high school.

After playing against each other in juniors, both went to Sioux Falls Musketeers of the United States Hockey League and became closer friends before becoming teammates again at BG.

‘Everyone couldn’t be more excited for his success that he has had; it’s a tribute to him looking at were he was last year to were he is now,’ Solway said. ‘It’s pretty cool to see the path he took.

Last season at BG, Sexton had 17 goals and 22 assists in 38 games, while Solway had 24 points in as many games.

This season Solway has three goals and seven assists in 16 games, but with three weeks till BG’s next game, his top priority right now might as well be getting his good friend’s picture on the wall in the BGSU Ice Arena.’