The Evolution of a Star: BG’s Swankler Shining in Sophomore Season

Charlie Ryan- Production Director, FMSN

Charlie Ryan, Production Director, FMSN

Over the past two seasons with Bowling Green hockey, sophomore forward Austen Swankler has made multiple waves. 

Currently, Swankler is on a nation-best 18-game point streak. He also leads in points and assists in the CCHA and ranks second in the nation in points. 

Last season, Swankler started the year fast, accompanying the second line with teammates Ryan O’Hara and Nathan Burke. 

However, he hit a skid halfway through the season and could not put pucks in the back of the net. Swankler attributed the skew to having to take the previous season off due to COVID. 

“I took a whole year off and it was a lot to add up,” he said. “Hockey, workouts, school… it was something I had never done before at this type of level.” 

With eight goals and 18 assists last season, Falcon hockey fans saw Swankler work harder to set up plays. As he became more of a playmaker, Swankler started the find the rhythm of college hockey. 

Coming into the 2022-23 season, Swankler said that the key to his game was to calm down and have more fun on the ice. As he played more in sync with his teammates, the point count was going uphill. 

Hockey Head Coach Ty Eigner said he definitely noticed a change in Swankler’s play compared to the previous season. 

“The difference for Austen this year as opposed to this year is he has matured both as a player and a person,” he said. 

Instead of taking the puck for himself, Swankler worked making full moves with his linemates.  

Although he has received many individual accolades from the CCHA, Eigner said Swankler likes to focus on the success of the entire team.  

“I think everybody wants to have success individually, but I think that all of our guys are team-first guys,” he said.  “It’s important that when we have team success, individual success will follow.” 

This sentiment has stuck with Swankler all season, helping him focus on keeping the team in the win column amongst all the individual recognition. 

“At the end of the day, it is just about winning,” he said. “If that point streak ends, then it’s whatever.” 

This kind of mindset is one of the reasons Swankler was nominated for Hobey Baker award this season. Bowling Green has seen two Falcons win the award, with Brian Holzinger winning in 1995 and George McPhee winning in 1982.  

Factors that lead to a player being nominated for the Hobey Baker include playing ability and strength of character both on and off the ice. Swankler has shown these traits when working with his teammates this season.  

Swankler says part of that maturity came from just playing his game and working towards a championship as a group. 

Looking into the rest of the season, Swankler is still looking into helping get the Falcons to get a championship win.  

The Falcons are currently ranked second in the CCHA, preparing to battle through the last six games of the regular season. 

In terms of playing hockey beyond BGSU, Swankler has currently been in talks with a couple of different NHL teams.  

“I’ve been talking with some teams, so we’ll see what happens,” he said. “But I’m looking at finishing out the season and coming back to BG to develop more as both a player and a person,”  

Although Swankler’s future past BG is currently uncertain, Falcon fans can rely on the fact that he will always give it his all on the ice. 

For more information about him, visit the athletics webpage.