Bowling Green High School hockey won two of three games during its opening weekend at Bowling Green State University’s Slater Family Ice Arena.
On Saturday, the Bobcats defeated Northern Kentucky, 5-1, on Sunday BG fell to Cincinnati St. Xavier, 5-2, and the Bobcats rebounded to down Bullis Prep (Potamac, Maryland), 7-4, on Monday.
“The first weekend wasn’t bad,” BG coach Connor Rogowski said. “We have a lot of new players playing together, so we didn’t know exactly what to expect.
“We just wanted to work hard and continue to take steps forward all weekend, and I think we did that.
“We’re in a good place but we have to continue taking steps forward and be the kind of team we want to be. If we do that, then we are going to continue going into a good place.”
One thing Rogowski wants to see more of is consistency — which he did not see going from the St. Xavier game to the Burris game, although he saw improvement. Even against Burris, there were penalties and times when the Bulldogs seemed to have the upper hand.
“The big part at the beginning of the season, and I know a lot of teams are dealing with it, is just consistency,” Rogowski said.
“We’re not consistent from period to period, from game to game. We are very up and down right now and I think that is the thing that we need to find as we continue to play here and continue to have more games on the weekends is just to find that consistency.
“We know we can have it, we know we are a gritty team, we just have to do it every period of the game now.”
BG junior forward Rhett Winger said even though his team had a letdown against St. Xavier, they responded well against Burris, a large parochial school located just outside Washington, D.C.
“Obviously, we didn’t play like we wanted to (Sunday),” Winger said. “I’m glad we came out and played like we did (Monday).
“We got into a little penalty trouble early in the game, but going out with a win, at the end of the day, that is all that matters.”
In BG’s win over Burris, the Bobcats and Bulldogs both kept the penalty box filled, especially in the second period, but the game also saw both teams score on multiple breakaways, which often means defensive breakdowns.
BG got 10 different players into the scoring column, led by senior forward Cooper Feehan, who had two goals and an assist.
The Bobcats enjoyed a 35-21 advantage in shots, and BG senior goaltender Cade Contris made 17 saves, while Burris freshman goalie Caleb Lee had 28 saves.
Winger had one goal and three assists, sophomore forward Hayden Joseph and junior forward Tanner Amos had one goal and one assist apiece, and senior defenseman Braden Loomis contributed three assists.
Senior forward J.T. Webb and senior defenseman Casey Moore scored one goal each and sophomore defenseman Cash Wisniewski and freshman forward Nolan Winger had one assist apiece.
The Bobcats opened a 5-1 lead before allowing the Bulldogs to get back into the game, making it 5-3 on a shot from the point by junior forward Hayden Grapes with 8:03 still remaining.
However, Feehan scored on a breakaway, assisted by Rhett Winger and Loomis, with 2:28 remaining to put the Bobcats back out front by three, 6-3. Moore added an empty-net goal with 13.7 seconds left on the clock.
For Burris, Grapes scored twice and had an assist, sophomore forward Kaya Smulders had a goal and an assist, junior forward Alex Vesely scored one goal, senior defenseman Avery Brown had two assists, and junior forward Jovi Greene and senior defenseman Ethan Liu had one assist each.
For the Bobcats in the win over the NK Norsemen, Hayden Joseph had one goal and two assists, Nolan Winger had a goal and an assist, Webb had three assists, Amos, Feehan, and Moore scored one goal apiece and Wisniewski had two assists.
Ryan Payton scored the Norsemens’ only goal unassisted as BG held a 29-19 shot advantage.
In the loss to St. Xavier, Feehan and sophomore forward Colby Joseph scored, Rhett Winger had two assists and senior forward Niko Kuhn added one assist for the Bobcats.
For the Bombers, Brian O’Connor scored twice, Matthew Langenderfer, Parker Kranson, and Blake Kaeding scored one goal apiece, and Jack Schaltz, Jack Davis, Andrew Coburn, Henry Ropp, and Fin Hayes contributed one assist apiece.
The Bobcats are led by 10 seniors, which includes forward Dempsey Fox, forward/defenseman Drake Joseph, forward Reagan Cordes, and goalie Matthew Brinkman, which Rogowski believes is a good thing for his younger players.
“It helps a lot to have a lot of those veteran players, especially to help those new guys,” Rogowski said.
“We have a lot of players that we had last year but not necessarily a lot of players who played significant roles last year.
“That’s how they are — they are forming into those significant roles this year and having some of the older guys helping them do that is really a positive thing,” Rogowski continued.
“We have 10 seniors but we also have a lot of sophomores. We have a very good mix of players back and forth, and it’s just everybody finding their roles and then competing in the roles they know they can be in.”
Winger believes this year’s team has the returning talent to do big things.
“I think we have a lot of potential this year,” Winger said. “I think we can go far and do good things in the tournament, but we have to stay together, play well, and win games.
“Obviously, we haven’t made it as far as we wanted to the past couple years, but hopefully we’ll take it a step up this year and hopefully make it to Columbus.”