Notebook: Burke, Nell and Sholl battle for time in goal

By September 29, 2015Notebooks

Bowling Green is looking for great goaltending.

Tommy Burke, Chris Nell and Tomas Sholl are attempting to provide the Falcons with that.

Falcon head coach Chris Bergeron said it’s “fair” to assume Burke, a senior, is the No. 1 goalie going into the season.

But Bergeron didn’t announce a starter or BG’s goaltending plans for Saturday’s annual exhibition contest against a Canadian school.

The Falcons host the University of Toronto in the Ice Arena at 7:07 p.m.

Burke played well last season, posting a 2.18 goals-against average and a .920 save percentage in 23 games. He started 22 of BG’s 39 games and emerged as BG’s No. 1 goalie during the second half.

Yet, Burke ranked just 27th nationally in goals-against and 32nd in save percentage.

“It was good to very good. I’m not sure it was great.” Bergeron said of the BG’s goaltending last season. “We want it to be great.”

Nell played well overall as a freshman last season, posting a 2.32 goals-against and a .917 save percentage in 13 games, including 12 starts. But he was very good during the first half and not as good during the second half.

Sholl had a 2.58 goals-against and a .909 save percentage in five games last season, all starts. He was recruited as the heir apparent to Andrew Hammond, who is now with the NHL’s Ottawa Senators.

But Sholl has struggled in his two seasons and has played in just 17 games.

“Last year’s performance is still part of this year’s evaluation,” Bergeron said. “It’s still part of this year’s plan. We’re still working through that.”

But Burke enters the season as BG’s top goalie.

“Was that 100 percent based on how great Tommy played or was that based on how the other guys played as well? I think that’s a combination,” Bergeron said. “Some guys had some opportunities and weren’t able to totally wrap their arms around that opportunity.

“All three want to play. There’s going to be enough opportunities, whether that be games or practices, to show us they’re the guy. We’re at the point where we need our goaltending to be that good. We’ve got three guys capable. It’s just a matter of who does it.”

Last season, Burke, Nell and Sholl each started two of BG’s first six games. After that, the starter was chosen based on performance.

“We’re not going to go in with as restrictive a plan as we did last year,” Bergeron said. “We don’t think we need to paint ourselves into any corner.

“We’re looking for the guy. Last year, we were fine with three. This year, we’re looking for a guy to step up and take this thing. Hopefully, someone can.”

POLL: The Falcons were 16th in U.S. College Hockey Online’s preseason poll Monday. BG was 18th in the final poll last season, but was ranked as high as sixth.

“All it means is we’re not sneaking up on people,” said Bergeron, whose team was second in the WCHA coaches poll.

In the USCHO poll, two other WCHA members were ranked — Minnesota State was sixth and Michigan Tech was 15th. Minnesota State was first in the coaches poll with 89 points, while BG had 79, one ahead of Tech.

“We take pride (in the USCHO poll) because we know what it was like five and six years ago,” Bergeron said. “We want the players who have been through this program during our time here and before to feel that pride.

“I want them to feel good, whether they’re on the team now or have been on the team in the past.”

Bergeron specifically mentioned former Falcon standout David Solway, who was a senior on Bergeron’s first team during the 2010-11 season.

“He stuck it out when his classmates were leaving (the program) and his friends were leaving,” Bergeron said. “ I want those kids to have pride in where this program has come in six years.”

The next USCHO poll will be released Oct. 12.

TIME CHANGE: The starting time for the Falcons’ home-opener against Ohio State Oct. 10 has been moved back 30 minutes to 7:37 p.m.

The change was made to give Falcon fans more time between BG’s home football and hockey games that day. The football team hosts Massachusetts at 2 p.m.

FUTURE FALCON: Alex Rauhauser, a defenseman for Des Moines in the United States (Junior) Hockey League, has verbally committed to the Falcons. He’ll join the BG program for the 2016-17 season.

Rauhauser, who is 6-foot-2, 192 pounds, has eight goals and 35 assists in 94 games at Des Moines the last two seasons. He has 48 penalty minutes and an on-ice rating of minus 15.

He turns 21 in March and is from Bismarck, N.D.

TV: Fox Sports North will show the semifinals and championship game of the WCHA Final Five in Grand Rapids, Mich.

The semifinals are March 18 at 5 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., and the championship game is March 19 at 7 p.m.

Fox Sports Ohio and Fox-owned SportsTime Ohio also could carry the games, if BG is involved.

Kevin Gordon

About Kevin Gordon

Kevin joined after wrapping up a 27-year run as the Falcon hockey beat writer for the Sentinel-Tribune. After providing another two years of the Falcon hockey coverage fans had grown to love over the past three decades, Kevin decided to hang up his notebook and is now enjoying the retired life. Please join us by sending Kevin a tweet and thank him for all the time he's dedicated to BGSU hockey: @KGordonBG.