BOWLING GREEN, Ohio — In 25 games this year, Austen Swankler has 15 goals and 36 points. Both are leading the Falcons and both lead the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
He’s also gaining national attention and is second in the country in points. All of that has him in the conversation for the Hobey Baker award, given to the nation's top men's hockey player.
No Falcon has won that award since Brian Holzinger in the 1994-95 season.
"It's awesome to get recognized for that. It's a special award," said Swankler. "But I'm just focused on the season, focused on the next two games at St. Thomas. If you focus on that too much it's just going to keep you distracted and I'm just worried about winning a national championship."
"He's matured both off the ice and on the ice. Now, to see him on the run he's on, it's impressive," said Bowling Green head coach Ty Eigner. "There aren't a lot of players in college hockey that are a point a game guy. It's hard and he's been that from the time he got here."
Getting Swankler to Bowling Green wasn’t an easy task. He was committed to RPI at age 14 and then he later committed to Michigan. Ultimately he chose to go to the Ontario Hockey League, but when the pandemic hit, he didn’t play hockey for a year.
That’s where the twist comes. Normally, the NCAA doesn’t allow players who have played major junior hockey to come to college hockey. In a rare twist of fate, they granted his eligibility and he found an immediate fit with the Falcons.
"BG actually helped a lot too when I was able to commit here and figure out things," said Swankler. "It was just a blessing in disguise so I just love being here."
Swankler has a point in 16 straight games, has earned CCHA Forward of the Week twice and CCHA Forward of the Month once.
In December, he was named Hockey Commissioners Association National Player of the Month, the second Falcon to ever earn that honor.
The Falcons have won six straight games this month and are currently sitting in first place in the CCHA. They will look to extend their winning streak against St. Thomas on Thursday and Friday.
If you'd like to vote for the Hobey Baker award, click here.