Bowling Green’s Alec Rauhauser may play this weekend at Lake Superior, Falcon coach Chris Bergeron said Tuesday.
The freshman defenseman missed Saturday’s game against Alaska-Anchorage, the result of an upper-body injury suffered early in the first period Friday. Rauhauser didn’t return after the injury.
Rauhauser has played well for the Falcons, who are 7-1-1 in their last nine games.
“He’s on a nice path unless something goes sideways the next couple of days. He should be in the conversation to play,” Bergeron said.
Rauhauser practiced Tuesday, although he didn’t participate in contact drills. The Falcons took Monday off. They’ll bus to Lake Superior Thursday morning.
“He took basically every rep in practice (Tuesday) like everybody else,” Bergeron said.
Rauhauser has two goals and nine assists, and on-ice rating of +8 in 14 games. He also skates on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
BG is 7-7-2 overall and 6-3-1-1 in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association. The Falcons are third in the league with 20 points, eight ahead of eighth-place Lake Superior (7-7, 4-6).
“He’s one of our better players, not just one of our better defensemen,” Bergeron said of Rauhauser. “There’s a poise to him. You want to have your best group out there, especially going into a series like this one.”
SHARP: BG freshman Ryan Bednard posted his first career shutout Saturday with 11 saves in a 3-0 victory over UAA in the Ice Arena. He bounced back from a difficult debut Oct. 15 at Western Michigan when he stopped just 5 of 9 shots and was replaced after 20:58.
“It’s extremely important,” Bergeron said of the shutout. “I believe he’s getting an opportunity to play every day and show what he can do in practice, but you need to play in games. At that position, like a quarterback, there’s only one guy who plays. You have to have more than one capable guy.”
Bergeron said Bednard earned the start because of his solid play in practice of late and because the Falcons were looking to give Chris Nell a rest. Nell, a junior who was a first-team All-WCHA honoree last season, had started BG’s last nine games.
Bergeron added the coaching staff originally discussed starting Bednard the previous weekend at Alabama-Huntsville.
“It was getting to a point where we needed to get him in there,” Bergeron said. “He deserves to play. He’s played better. He’s been more confident in practice. What you saw Saturday is hopefully a glimpse of what he’s going to be for us. What that means in terms of how many games he’ll play, we don’t know yet.”
Nell has started 13 of BG’s 16 games and appeared in 14 games overall. He’s been sharp after a difficult start, posting a 1.80 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage in those nine games.
The 6-foot-5, 205-pound Bednard is a highly-touted prospect. The NHL’s Florida Panthers drafted him in the seventh round in 2015. Bednard had a 2.38 goals-against and a .918 save percentage in 39 games last season for Youngstown in the United States (Junior) Hockey League.
“He’s a young guy,” Bergeron said of the 19-year-old Bednard. “Confidence is a mental thing you have to earn through your preparation and through your play. Ryan deserved to go in there.
“He should be confident because he played well, and he looked confident. That’s not by accident. That’s by the work he’s put in, both on and off the ice the last couple of months. He earned that start. The confidence he played with, he earned. Now, he played well to earn more confidence.”
NEXT: BG has three series remaining before Christmas, starting with the trip to Lake Superior. The Falcons host Michigan Tech Dec. 9-10 and visit Alaska (Fairbanks) Dec. 16-17.
BG, the coaches pick to win the WCHA, has played well after starting the season 0-6-1 overall and 0-2 in the league. The Falcons are 5-0-1 in their last six games which were all league games.
“We’re supposed to be a top team in this league, and (Lake Superior is) a top team in this league,” Bergeron said. “It’s an important weekend from that perspective. “
Lake Superior started the season by winning its first five games and going 6-1 in its first seven contests. The Lakers then lost six of their next seven games, although they’re coming off a split at 20th-ranked Michigan.
“We dug ourselves a hole from our record that we’ve dug ourselves out of,” Bergeron said. “(Lake Superior is) a team that’s going to be there in the end. Our next six games before the holiday break are huge.