"This year's team, we understand the rankings that we see ahead of us. As we talk to our team, it's kind of a situation where a lot of our guys are back. We put ourselves in that situation and now it's our responsibility to get us out. We feel real good about this team. Twenty three of our players are back from last year, led by our captain Derek Whitmore, who scored 19 goals and was our leading goal scorer. Our most improved player from last year, Jimmy Spratt in goal, is back and is building on an outstanding second half. We had a really good second half, didn't add up to as many wins as we would have liked. We were a pretty good team in the second half. A lot of last year's players are back with us drawing on that experience. We feel real good about our team. Our off-season has been outstanding from a team building and conditioning stand point. We are ready to prove the rankings wrong."
The Falcons do return 23 players from last year's squad, but it is the two players not on the roster that could be the most important. The first is Jonathan Matsumoto, who was Bowling Green's leading scorer last year and left this summer to sign with the Philadelphia Flyers. The second is goalie Josh Unice, who was scheduled to be the starting goalie for Bowling Green this season, before he shocked everyone by signing with an OHL team.
Matsumoto averaged over a point per game in his three year career at Bowling Green. His loss should hurt the offense. Senior Derek Whitmore, who scored 19 goals last year returns, but he will have to prove that his 10-point-increase between his sophomore and junior year wasn't just a product of playing alongside Matsumoto. The Falcons will have to hope from big jumps in production from some of their talented sophomore forwards like Tomas Petruska, Todd McIlrath, Kai Kantola, and James Perkin. Incoming freshman Jacob Cepis scored a lot of points in the USHL and could contribute immediately too.
Jimmy Spratt was charged with being the replacement to Falcon Jordan Sigalet two years ago, and has struggled in goal. Spratt is capable of putting together nice games, but has struggled with consistency. As coach Paluch noted, he had more good games than bad games towards the end of season, which bodes well for the future. If he can't stay consistent, incoming freshman and Buffalo Sabres pick Nick Eno will challenge for playing time. The Falcons will probably need great goaltending to hold them in games.