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Sep. 21—BOWLING GREEN — The preseason rankings for the Central Collegiate Hockey Association released on Monday pit the Bowling Green State University Falcons in 5th in the inaugural year of the revamped conference.

The CCHA is active for the first time since 2013. BGSU was a member of the conference from 1971-2013, winning seven regular-season titles and five CCHA tournament championships. From 2013 until 2020, BGSU was a member of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

Minnesota State was narrowly voted as the top team in the league. They earned a league-high five first-place votes and 67 total points, ahead of second-place Bemidji State’s one first-place vote and 63 points.

The Falcons earned 46 points in the poll. Third-ranked Michigan Tech got two first-place votes and 55 points, and fourth-ranked Northern Michigan earned 54 points.

“The preseason coaches’ poll is something that we kind of anticipated having lost 11 players from last year’s team,” Falcons head coach Ty Eigner said in a press release. “This year’s team has an opportunity to write its own story, and all of us are very excited for our CCHA and non-conference seasons.”

Individually for BGSU, freshman forward Austen Swankler was recognized as the CCHA preseason Rookie of the Year. The North Huntingdon, Pa., native most recently played for Erie in the Ontario Hockey League, where he tabbed 18 goals and 27 assists for 45 points in 59 games. He previously helped Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League to a Clark Cup championship in 2019.

“Austen being tabbed as the preseason Rookie of the Year is nice to see,” Eigner said. “He is a talented young player who has an opportunity to be a really good college hockey player.”

BGSU visits the University of Michigan Oct. 2 for an exhibition game. Their first regular-season game is Oct. 8 at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in a two-game series in Troy, N.Y.

Their home opener is Oct. 23 against Miami at 7:07 p.m. at the Slater Family Ice Arena.