Hockey ready to drop the puck

It’s once again time for Bowling Green hockey to drop the puck, and second year head coach Scott Paluch’s team will be looking to get the program back on track.

“We want to be a team this year that gets us back to where this program should be at in the CCHA and at the national level,” Paluch said. “In years to come here we want to be known as a team that everyone is talking about as a factor in the league.”

The Falcons will return 18 letterwinners and will welcome eight new freshmen to their team this season, which marks the 20th anniversary of our national championship team.

Last season, the Falcons finished 8-25-3 on the year and eleventh in the CCHA in Paluch’s first season as coach. It was a season filled with promise and many close defeats that could have very easily been wins. The team only lost six letterwinners and will return a big group of experienced players.

“I think with all our players having gone through a year of playing in key roles and along with the experience they gained from last season will make our depth very good, which will make us a deeper team than last season,” Paluch said. “I feel we have more guys who are capable of scoring goals and the depth will help us keep fresher legs.”

The top three scorers will return to the team this year with team captain forward D’Arcy McConvey, forward Mark Wires and defenseman Kevin Bieksa. They will be joined by Mike Falk, who was one of the top freshmen in the league last year and was fourth on the team in goals.

Other big returnees will be forwards Steve Brudzewski, Ryan Minnabarriet, Brett Pilkington, Ryan Barnett, Ben Assenmacher, Erik Eaton, Jim Tudor and Brandon Piersol. Then on defense, the returnees will be Brian Escobedo, Don Morrison, Chris Pedota, Taylor Christie and Jon Sitko.

In the net this season for the Falcons will be junior Jordan Sigalet, who led the team in wins, save percentage and goals against average last season. Stepping in for Tyler Masters last season, Sigalet became one of the top goalies in the conference. His backup will be Bob Frazee.

“Our success this year will depend a lot on the play of Jordan and he’ll be asked to play a lot of games this season,” Paluch said. “We feel he is ready to have a good year and be one of the better goalies in the conference again.”

A newcomer to the team this year will be sophomore Bryan Dobek, whose dad was Bob Dobek, a legendary hockey player for the Falcons in the 1970s. He will be joined by freshmen goaltender Bobby Pruchnik, defenseman Jeremy Bronson, forward James Unger, forward Mark Voakes, forward Rich Meloche, forward Nick Lang, forward Dana Hanson, and defenseman Jonathan Sigalet, who is the brother of goaltender Jordan.

“We think we got a good group and good mix of players coming in this year,” Paluch said. “Jonathan Sigalet will come in with the ability to be a big impact player right away and is a very offensively gifted defenseman.”

In the preseason polls, the Falcons were picked 10th out of 12 in the CCHA by the coaches and eleventh by the media. These are rankings Paluch believes his team can prove wrong and compares his team’s rankings to those of Ferris State last year, who went on to win the league after being picked ninth.

“Our goal is to prove that ranking wrong,” Paluch said. “With UAF two years ago and Ferris State last year, that’s clearly the model that our program’s looking to do — to take a ranking that’s lower than you like and prove that we deserve to be ranked higher, and show the product on the ice.”

This year’s schedule will begin on the third of October with an exhibition against the University of Windsor at the BG Ice Arena.

Home opponents this year will include Notre Dame, Union, Miami, Niagra, Ohio State, Ferris State, Findlay, Michigan State, Lake Superior State and Northern Michigan.

The Falcons will travel to Northern Michigan, Notre Dame, Lake Superior State, Cornell, Colgate, Western Michigan, Minnesota-Duluth, Alaska Fairbanks, Nebraska-Omaha and Michigan.

Tomorrow the team will officially kick things off with the second annual Falcon Face-off at 5:45 p.m. Free t-shirts will be given out to the first few hundred students in the arena and there will be an opportunity to meet the team afterwards. The team will split into two teams and play two 25 minute halves with a skills competition at the half. Points will be awarded to the teams based on how they do in hardest shot, fastest skater, and showdown competitions on top of the points they have from the game.