Alec Rauhauser didn’t play in Bowling Green’s 4-1 victory at Miami last Saturday.
The freshman defenseman was a healthy scratch because he didn’t play well the night before during his team’s 2-1 overtime loss to the RedHawks.
But, he didn’t allow the benching to derail his already-promising season.
Rauhauser returned to the lineup Friday and played well in the Falcons’ 4-1 victory over Ferris State in the Ice Arena. He had a goal and two assists, and an on-ice rating of plus-2 as BG posted its second straight win.
“Last Friday (at Miami), I didn’t have my best game. I deserved to sit out,” said Rauhauser, who was on the ice for Miami’s first goal. “It kind of lit a fire under me in practice this week, trying to get back in the lineup.
“I knew how hard I had to work this week, and I’m glad it paid off, but I know I have to keep pushing like that every week to keep having success like I did tonight.”
Rauhauser watched the series finale at Miami from the stands.
“It’s kind of humbling,” Rauhauser said. “It’s not a good feeling sitting up there. We still won, and it’s a good feeling, but I want to be a part of it. I would never want to be scratched again because I want to be part of the winning atmosphere.”
BG coach Chris Bergeron said Rauhauser had a “great week of practice” to earn a spot in the lineup for Friday’s game against Ferris.
“When you talk to a young guy who you don’t know great and he’s never really faced adversity, he can go one of two ways — how come I’m not in there and it’s somebody else’s fault or you can go the other way and say I can play better,” Bergeron said. “Obviously, he took that (latter) route for the whole week.”
Against Ferris, Rauhauser first faked a shot and then threaded the puck through traffic from the left point that was tipped in by teammate Tyler Spezia to give BG a 1-0 lead, just 4:51 into the game.
Rauhauser added a goal for a 3-1 BG lead at 13:32 of the first period. The goal was the result of Rauhauser’s poise and patience. He skated across the crease, waited for Ferris goalie Darren Smith to commit and then backhanded a shot past the sprawled Smith from the right side.
“I like holding onto the puck. It’s always been my game,” Rauhauser said. “I feel confident when I have the puck and just try to make good plays, and make the right play or get it deep when I have to.”
Rauhauser also assisted on Mitch McLain’s power-play goal at 17:45 of the second period, increasing BG’s lead to 4-1. He patiently waited for Matt Pohlkamp to become open down low. Rauhauser then fed the puck to Pohlkamp, who passed the puck to McLain in the goalmouth for the goal.
“He’s a great player,” said Spezia, a junior forward. “He’s fun to watch. He has a lot of poise out there. I don’t think he’s a freshman. He plays with confidence. He plays with swagger. He’s got great vision. He can do it all. It’s been a privilege to play with him, and I love watching him play.”
Rauhauser was expected to be an impact player this season, and his play hasn’t disappointed overall.
He has two goals and three assists in nine games, to go along with an on-ice rating of +1. He’s already a regular on the power-play and penalty-killing units.
“He brings poise,” Bergeron said. “He brings hockey sense. He’s got a sneaky good defensive stick because he’s always there. He’s a competitor. There’s lots of things we like about his game when he’s playing well.”
The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder came to BG after two-plus seasons with the Des Moines Buccaneers in the United States (Junior) Hockey League where he had 13 goals and 67 assists in 152 games. He had 37 points in each of his final two seasons at Des Moines.
Rauhauser is 21-years-old, making him older than some of BG’s sophomores and juniors.
“I’m an older guy,” Rauhauser said. “I feel like I had a lot of games under my belt coming in here. Just being an older guy, I feel comfortable because I’ve played a lot of games in junior hockey. It got me prepared for this.
“The first couple weeks, you’re just getting used to things,” Rauhauser added. “But now I’m totally comfortable, and all of the guys get along. I really feel comfortable right now.”
Rauhauser’s always been known as offensive defenseman, but he’s played well defensively for BG.
“I don’t want his defensive play to get overlooked because he’s got so much poise in the offensive zone with the puck,” Bergeron said. “He can defend. He’s got a really good stick, stick on puck. He’s not the most physical guy in terms of hitting, but he’s on the (defensive side of the puck) all of the time and taking away time and space.”
BG assistant coaches Ty Eigner and Barry Schutte did most of the recruiting on Rauhauser and sold Bergeron on his ability to defend.
“That would be the biggest area I’ve been impressed with because we were expecting the power play and the offense and the poise,” Bergeron said. “But to see what we can do with the poise when he’s playing the game right way, it’s been good. He’s a better defender than you think. He has a good stick to defend. It’s always in the way. You think you’ve beaten him and all of a sudden, the stick is there and he pokes the puck away.”
Rauhauser is majoring in business. He received all-state honors in hockey and soccer at Bismarck (North Dakota) Century High School.
“Alec is a guy who has chance to play hockey for a while if that’s what he wants to do,” Bergeron said. “There’s lots of layers to his game that he brings to our table.”