With new coach Eigner at helm, Bowling Green has goal of ‘leaving the program better than how we found it’

Frederic Letourneau recorded a pair of assists for Bowling Green in a 5-2 loss at Western Michigan last Saturday night (photo: BGSU Athletics).

Ty Eigner will never forget where he was when athletic director Bob Moosbrugger called him and offered him the head coaching job at Bowling Green.

Chris Bergeron coached the Falcons for nine seasons before stepping down after 2018-19 to take over Miami. He played for the RedHawks in the 1990s and spent 10 years as an assistant with them before taking over BGSU.

By Bergeron’s side for all nine years at BGSU was Eigner, who is still giddy about taking over the program that he once played for himself.

A season ago, Bergeron and Eigner helped take BGSU to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1990. The Falcons haven’t won fewer than 21 games since 2013-14. They’ve consistently been knocking on the door for a WCHA title.

“That’s the responsibility I feel that I have to keep it going here, and I accept that,” Eigner said Tuesday morning. “But I’ve been talking with the players. We all appreciate and understand where the program is at right now, but they’re not satisfied.

“As good as a team as we were last year (third place in the WCHA), we didn’t win a regular-season championship, a playoff championship or an NCAA game. We played good hockey and had a good year, but there is a bitter taste in our mouths with how that season ended.

“The one thing we keep talking about is leaving the program better than how we found it. That’s our goal.”

And where Eigner found the program is in Chicago.

Normally, Eigner is recruiting on the weekends, especially in April when the USHL is holding its combine near Chicago. But it just so happened that his two daughters were playing in a club volleyball tournament close to the combine, so he and a few of his family members who drove down from their native Minnesota crammed into McCormick Place Convention to watch the Eigner girls compete.

“There were like 120 courts in there, and I was in the middle of it watching their club volleyball team,” Eigner said. “I got a call that came up with Bob’s name, so I knew I had to quickly get to a place where I could hear him.

“I’ll never forget that call.”

For most of the summer, it was business as usual for Eigner. The real duties of being a head coach didn’t start until a few weeks before the first puck dropped this season.

“The biggest surprise is all the stuff you have to do as a head coach,” he said. “When you’re an assistant, it’s recruiting on the weekend, running practices and watching tape. As a head coach, you’re doing meetings, media availability and other stuff.”

Eigner got a brief glimpse into head coaching life when the Falcons opened the season at Miami with a rare Sunday night matchup in Week 1.

But he’s happy to be on a regular routine now that they’re back to playing on Fridays and Saturday. Last weekend, they hosted the IceBreaker Tournament in Toledo.

“The biggest eye-opener is probably having to be aware of how you manage your time and all the responsibilities you have away from the rink,” Eigner said. “The first time the radio person wanted to talk to me before a game, that caught me off guard.”

Bulldogs leaders show growth

A year ago, Ferris State probably loses this kind of game.

The Bulldogs snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring twice late in their 3-1 victory over Colgate last Thursday.

All goals and assists came from upperclassmen, which shows the growing pains of last year’s 7-18-3 season actually yielded more growth than pain.

Joe Rutkowski notched the game-winner early in the third, and then the Bulldogs battled hard to maintain the 2-1 advantage for most of the period. Coale Norris threw in an empty-netter just before regulation ended.

For Ferris to maintain a late lead and keep Colgate at bay, that was impressive.

“It was good to see our veteran guys lead the way,” coach Bob Daniels said. “They’re doing a great job of leadership in the locker room. It’s good to see them do it on the ice as well.”

What happened in Houghton?

The biggest surprise of last weekend happened at Michigan Tech. Alaska Fairbanks swept the Huskies for the first time since 2014, picking up 3-2 and 2-1 wins.

Special teams aren’t always an indicator of success. But the Huskies went 0-13 on the power-play. That definitely played a role in a rebuilding team like the Nanooks stealing a pair of road wins.

“Our power play needs to get a lot better,” coach Joe Shawhan told MichiganTechHuskies.com after Game 2. “We need to be a lot faster and more determined, with faster puck movement and better reads. We need to continue to work on that and make it a strength of our team.”