On Mar. 6, Bowling Green led Ohio State 2-0 late in the third period of each team’s last regular-season game. When the Buckeyes pulled Jeff Maund in favor of the extra skater, they left more than an empty net; they left the puck close to the boards, near the OSU blue line, and near the stick of Falcon senior Dan Price.
Without thinking, Price turned and shot at the net. Then he looked at his linemate, junior Adam Edinger, and rolled his eyes. Both young men laughed.
When Price shot, he did so without realizing that his 14th conference goal of the season would give him the CCHA scoring title, a title he would have shared with Edinger if the final score of the game had remained 2-0. Until that empty-net goal, Price and Edinger were tied in conference points.
“If Dan Price sees an empty net, he’s going to shoot,” said Buddy Powers after the game. The Bowling Green head coach was laughing. “We kind of looked at each other on the bench and said, ‘Doesn’t this figure?’ Price has had a lot of tough ones that have missed the net at different times.”
To say that Dan Price has had a lot of tough ones is an understatement.
Dan Price and Adam Edinger finished first and second in league scoring, and were named second- and first-team all-CCHA, respectively. Together, they were the best one-two punch in the CCHA for the 1998-99 season, ahead of players like Hugo Boisvert, Mike York and Brian Urick.
And miles ahead of where each was just one year ago.
As Price finishes his last year of collegiate hockey, he reflects on the things he remembers from four years with Bowling Green.
“There’s a number of good memories. Scoring your first collegiate goal. Our freshman year we beat Michigan, and that’s the last time we’ve done it. And you remember not only the good things, but the bad things.”
On Sept. 13, 1997, Price was involved in an automobile accident that cost one man his life. Price, the driver of the car, survived the crash in spite of being thrown fifty feet from the car, head-first. The Sarnia, Ont., native escaped with a badly bruised knee.
On Feb. 17, 1998, he was convicted of aggravated vehicular homicide. He’s currently serving a five-year probation that includes complete abstinence from alcohol, even though the accident was not alcohol-related.
Meanwhile, eight games before the 1997-98 regular season ended, Edinger tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee, an injury that required surgery and extensive rehabilitation.
“When I came back to school,” says Edinger, a native of nearby Toledo, Oh., “I wasn’t really one hundred percent. It was more of a rehab situation. Other guys were working out and getting into shape, and I was just trying to get strong enough to play.”
“What Price went through, you wouldn’t want anyone to go through,” says Powers. “It was just tragedy.
“And for Eddy, having to be the top center as a sophomore last season was is a tough task. Then the injury. I don’t think even if he tested today his knee would be one hundred percent. He’s been with our strength coach a couple times a week all season.
“I don’t think anyone wants to go through what we went through last year as a team or as individuals.”
What both Price and Edinger went through, says Powers, makes the success of this season all that much sweeter. “They’re two guys that love to play. I feel really good for both for them. Right from the day Price walked on campus you could tell he’s a guy who likes to play. He was always full of confidence is that he could get the job done. Eddy’s a big, tough guy. For him to turn around and have the kind of season he’s had on top of everything says a lot.”
Both players hesitate when asked about last season, as though talking about it conjures as much mood as memory. Understandably, the 24-year-old Price says his experience has changed him.
“It kind of sneaks up on you and hits you like a ton of bricks,” says Price. “Obviously with the probation, I can’t do some of the things other college kids do. I can’t go out with my teammates. I do think it’s mellowed me a little.
“I mean, I’m still just as laid-back as always. I’ve just come to realize that hockey isn’t everything in life any more.”
Edinger says that watching such a good friend go through what Price endured was difficult for the whole team. “He’s definitely like a brother to us, and we didn’t want to see anyone go through that. We don’t really talk about it too much. We don’t really want to bring up bad memories.”
It was teammates like Edinger — and lots of support from the people who loved him — that helped Price cope with the aftermath of the accident as well as with the high-profile suspension that resulted while the court case was pending.
“I don’t know how I did it,” says Price. “I have a lot of great friends and family, and that just helps you all the time. I don’t want to say you forget about it, but they help you move on. Everyone on our team is like a family, everyone is very good friends. They were all behind me.”
Especially helpful, says Price, was the support of Powers and assistant coaches Wayne Wilson and Brian Hills.
“[Powers] talked to me just like I was normal person, like there was nothing over my head. That really helped. All three have been there one hundred percent — no, one hundred and ten percent.”
Both young men say that even though the Falcons weathered a rough season last year, there was a feeling of optimism about what would happen when it was all over.
“We put some good wins together last year, and we thought that if everybody could stay healthy, we knew we could be competitive this season,” says Edinger.
Price adds, “Basically, everything was behind me this season. Clean slate.”
Given where each player was twelve months ago, what these two Falcons accomplished this season is nothing short of extraordinary.
Price finished the season with 14 goals and 28 assists in conference play; Edinger had 19 goals and 22 assists. As a junior, Price had 14 goals and 13 assists in 22 games, while Edinger had six goals and 12 assists in 20.
The Falcons missed the playoffs last season, finishing 8-27-3. This year, Bowling Green skated into the first round of the CCHA playoffs on a high note, winning five of their six last regular-season games, and posting a 17-16-3 overall record.
Seventeen wins and a trip to the CCHA quarterfinals wouldn’t have been possible without the Price-Edinger combination, both on the BG first line and on the awesome Bowling Green power play. Between them, Price and Edinger combined for 33 of Bowling Green’s conference goals, including 18 of BG’s 37 power-play goals. Edinger alone tallied 13 of those, although “alone” is hardly the term. In nearly every instance, Price assisted.
There’s no magic formula to the Price-Edinger combo, at least not when it comes to the Falcon power play.
“I like passing the puck,” Price says matter-of-factly. “I think a big thing of it is that Eddy likes putting the puck in the net. That’s a big key, especially on the power play. If it comes to me, it’s almost automatic that I’ll pass to him.”
“Price and I have been on the power play together for almost three years now,” says Edinger. “We’ve been together all year. We practice the power play twice a week in practice, all season, every week.”
If practice doesn’t make perfect, it does make for a power play that is machine-like in its precision, especially with the addition of Chris Bonvie, who has tallied five goals with the man-advantage this season. The Falcons convert 21.1 percent of the time.
In spite of the numbers and the stories of personal recovery, neither Price nor Edinger seems particularly comfortable talking about his own accomplishments. Powers explains, “It’s easier for guys to talk about things when you’ve produced. And we haven’t really produced.”
Having the top two scorers in the league and ten wins more than last season equals some kind of production. But perhaps the best product Bowling Green put on the ice this season are college kids who have dealt with a myriad of real-life problems, players who manage to sound just like college kids, in spite of it all.
“I thought for sure on Saturday night [Mar. 6] that I was going to cry,” says Dan Price. It’s hard to imagine the 6-2, 205-pound forward overcome with emotion before his last game in the BGSU Ice Arena, and in the end, he was smiling. “In a way it’s kind of frustrating, but hey, a lot of teams go through problems, you know?”
And how did Adam Edinger feel when Price took the scoring title on an empty-netter? “I was happy for him. There’s not another person in the league who I’d like to see do that.”
Buddy Powers is openly and unabashedly proud of Price and Edinger, as he is of all of his players after the Falcons bounced back from a season that, in retrospect, presented 26 young men with experiences few of them thought they’d ever have to face, let alone while playing college hockey in northwest Ohio.
“I’ve been scrapping along in this business for a long time, and you learn more about yourself when things are bad. That we got through what we went through as a team, and have come back and done some big things says a lot about the character of this team.”