Bobcat hockey optimistic about season outlook

By J. Patrick Eaken, [email protected]

Bowling Green hockey wore down Newark, taking a 4-1 victory in the Bobcats’ season opener at Bowling Green State University’s Slater Family Ice Arena Saturday.

Newark, which falls to 0-2 after losing to Findlay, 3-2, on Friday, outshot the Bobcats 14-6 in the first period. But the Bobcats outshot the Generals 13-6 in a penalty-filled second period.

In the third, BG had only five shots on goal, but the Generals did not get a shot on goal until the final minute. BG outshot Newark 18-7 over the final two periods and held a game’s end 24-21 advantage.

“Our identity this season is going to be outworking the other team every single shift, every single time we are on the ice, every period,” BG coach Connor Rogowski said. “If we do that, we are going to be successful. I thought that in the second and third period, we did that tonight.

“We outworked them, we caused turnovers, we ran our systems correctly, and that is the kind of team we are going to have to be, to be successful this year. We did that correctly tonight,” Rogowski continued.

Fourth-year varsity senior defenseman Easton Shick added, “It was a struggle for sure, but we turned it around after the first and got our legs moving. I think we got the nerves out.

“We have a lot of younger guys, and we turned the page after that first and got going.”

Shick said the Bobcats had to change their gameplan a bit, adjusting to Newark’s physical style of play after seeing something totally different in scrimmages.

“Our first couple games we played they weren’t very aggressive, and these guys we played were very aggressive,” Shick said.

“You could tell on our power play how we struggled on top, high, they were forechecking hard on us. So, we’ll have to break that down and look at that and see where we can go after today.”

Four different Bobcats, Shick and forwards Cooper Feehan, Ethan Helvoigt and J.T. Webb, scored for BG. BG goalie Matthew Brinkman had 20 saves.

Shick scored the final insurance goal on a power play with 4:44 remaining in the game.

“My buddy, Helvoigt, passed down low and I just took it to the net, looked for the guy in the center and tried to get it there, and couldn’t,” Shick said. “Their defenseman just kicked it right back out to me, and I just buried it.”

Five different Bobcats contributed with one assist each — Feehan, forwards Drake Joseph, Hayden Joseph and Rhett Winger, and defenseman Braden Loomis.

Newark got a first period goal from forward Matt Chaykowski, assisted by Trevor Enders. Newark goalie Aaron Johnson had 20 saves.

‘Strong chemistry’

BG has 12 returnees, including four returning lettermen on defense and five at forward, to help Rogowski prepare for the upcoming Northwest Hockey Conference Red Division schedule.

“I think the strengths of this team are we are going to work harder than the other team, we are going to make simple plays, we are going to play through our systems, and we are going to execute,” Rogowski said.

“It’s going to be a gritty, grimy team this year, and that is the kind of game that we are going to play, and that is Bobcat hockey. We are going to get back to the basics and we are going to do the little things right.”

Among the seniors, Shick was an NHC Rookie of the Year in 2019 and honorable mention All-NHC as a junior and senior. He says the camaraderie is in place for a strong season.

“Our chemistry is very strong. Everyone is great friends here,” Shick said. “We work together very well, we are aggressive, and we are just going to keep producing and getting better and better every day.”

Helvoigt joins the team after playing AAA junior hockey the past two years for Belle Tire out of Detroit.

Forward Camden McIntosh is a three-year BG varsity player who has also played on all-star and travel teams for Bowling Green Youth Hockey Association.

Defenseman Caden Wisniewski is a third-year player who received the BGYHA Preston Pahl Scholarship and the varsity program’s Spyder Award for being the most outstanding sophomore.

From there, a heavier than usual youth movement is going on at BG, but the good thing is the program includes a junior varsity team for the first time in years.

“I think that we are still a young team,” Rogowski said. “As far as togetherness, we have 15 new players in the entire program this year, so trying to get that chemistry together and get that working together better is going to take a little time, but we are off to a good start.

“We just have to keep it simple, and we are going to be alright,” Rogowski added.

The Bobcats do not open league play until Dec. 4, when they host Sylvania Northview at 1 p.m. at Slater. Rogowski said he believes the Red Division title is up for grabs this year.

“I think the NHC is going to be crazy this year, to be honest,” Rogowski said. “I think there are going to be a lot of teams that will be competing at the top of that league.

“Night in and night out, whatever team comes out the hardest and outworks the other team is probably going to be the team that wins.

“It’s going to be a fun league to watch this year, a fun league to be a part of, so it’s obviously it is going to come down to the end.”