Ryan Bednard’s dream became a reality Saturday afternoon.
The Bowling Green recruit was selected in the NHL Draft, going in the seventh round to the Florida Panthers.
The goalie was the 206th player selected. The Panthers hosted the draft in Sunrise, Fla.
“It’s awesome,” said Bednard, who followed the draft at his home in Macomb, Mich. “It’s another step towards my goal of playing in the NHL. It’s great to be a part of the Florida Panthers’ organization.”
He’s the second current Falcon to be drafted, joining sophomore defenseman Mark Friedman, who was selected in the third round/86th overall last year by the Philadelphia Flyers.
“It was a complete surprise to be drafted by the Panthers because I never had any contact with them before the draft,” Bednard said.
Bednard expects to attend the team’s development camp Monday through Thursday in Coral Springs, Fla.
“I just want to go make a good first impression and learn as much as I can to help me in the future,” Bednard said.
Bednard had been on the NHL’s list of players to watch for the draft since the start of last season.
“Now that I have a team, I can just go play and stick to my training,” Bednard said.
The 6-foot-4, 193-pound Bednard had a 2.66 goals-against average and a .937 save percentage in 37 games last season for the Johnstown Tomahawks in the North American (Junior) Hockey League.
He also had a 4.00 goals-against and an .889 save percentage in one game for the Youngtown Phantoms in the United States (Junior) Hockey League. He’ll play the 2015-16 season with the Phantoms.
Bednard will join the Falcons for the 2017-18 season after junior goalie Tomas Sholl graduates.
But Bednard could arrive at BG a season earlier, if Sholl continues to struggle as he has during his first two seasons or sophomore Chris Nell has more inconsistency. Nell was good overall last season, but struggled during the second half.
Bednard, who turns 19 in March, is well thought of because of his work ethic, which should enable him to develop into an even better player.
“Because I’m big, I definitely have good net coverage and I’m quick on my feet,” Bednard said. “I try to let the play come to me. I’m trying to slow the game down and become more economical in my movements.”
He was one of four goalies chosen to play in the All-American Prospects Game last season.
Bednard’s brother, Shane, will be a freshman forward at BG this fall.
The last Falcon goalie to be drafted was Jordan Sigalet, who was picked 209th overall in the seventh ground in 2001. Sigalet is the goalie coach for the NHL’s Calgary Flames.
Photos courtesy of Johnstown Tomahawks/Phil Andraychak.