Josh Nodler won 54.1% of his faceoffs, second-best on the team, during his junior year at Michigan State. Michigan State University
Josh Nodler won 54.1% of his faceoffs, second-best on the team, during his junior year at Michigan State. Michigan State University

Josh Nodler’s college hockey career has taken him from Michigan State to UMass and now Bowling Green.

The final stop in Josh Nodler’s college hockey career will be Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

He hopes he’s saved his best for last.

Bowling Green will be the 22-year-old Berkley High School graduate’s third team in three years. After playing three seasons at Michigan State University, Nodler transferred to the University of Massachusetts, played one season there, and now has moved on to Bowling Green, where he’ll play as a graduate student.

College athletes were granted an extra year of eligibility by the NCAA if they were impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I always thought I would use my fifth year of eligibility,” Nodler said. “I went into the (NCAA’s) transfer portal this time because I wanted a place where I’d have a better opportunity to play and continue my education.”

The 5-foot-10, 195-pound forward from Oak Park appears to have found that place in Bowling Green.

“We made no promises to Josh, but we will give him an opportunity. We want him to have his best season of college hockey,” said Bowling Green coach Ty Eigner.

“His resume shows he’s a good offensive player, and that’s still there. He comes here with a clean slate. We know he’s motivated to do well here and he’s happy about being close to home (Bowling Green is 15 minutes south of Toledo).”

Nodler will graduate from UMass next month with a degree in computer science. He may continue his education in that field at Bowling Green or take advantage of the school’s one-year MBA program.

“I’m not 100% sure,” he said.

Eigner said the Bowling Green hockey team has dipped into the transfer portal many times and been successful because of the type of player it wants.

Nodler checks all the boxes.

“Transfers have to fit into our locker room, be a good teammate and care about academics,” Eigner said. “Academics matter with us. We want our players to take ownership of their education.”

How much do academics matter in the Bowling Green hockey program?

Last season, 17 Bowling Green hockey players were named to the Central Collegiate Hockey Association’s All-Academic list (3.0 or higher grade-point average) and 13 were Scholar-Athletes (3.5 or higher GPA).

On the ice, the Falcons were 15-19-2 and finished in third place in the CCHA. But this is a traditionally strong program that has sent many players into the pro ranks.

Nodler and Bowling Green each did their due diligence after Nodler entered the transfer portal, and each concluded that he would be a good fit there hockey-wise and in the classroom.

“There are several offensive roles I could fill at Bowling Green at center or wing,” Nodler said.

His new coach agreed.

“There are a bunch of scenarios for Josh,” Eigner said.

Nodler hasn’t had a breakout season in college in the scoring department. He’s determined to put up some gaudy offensive numbers this season because his hockey future depends on it.

Selected by the Calgary Flames in the fifth round (150th overall) of the 2019 NHL draft, he remains the property of the Flames unless he decides to become a free agent.

Josh Nodler during his Michigan State days,
Josh Nodler during his Michigan State days, Michigan State University

Nodler played in 27 games last season at UMass, and he had two goals and three assists. He had 13 goals and 23 assists in three years at Michigan State, but he made his mark in other areas.

He was one of the Spartans’ top centers each season and an excellent faceoff man.

He was durable. He played in all 99 games during his Michigan State career.

He was a leader. He served as an assistant captain for the team in his junior season.

He did well academically. He was named Academic All-Big Ten as a sophomore and junior after posting a perfect 4.0 grade-point average as a freshman and being named an All-American Scholar.

He won the team’s Amo Bessone Award as a sophomore. The award, named for a beloved former MSU coach, honors a player for his athletic and academic achievement and community involvement.

Nodler has not played on a winning team during his college hockey career. UMass finished 13-17-5 last season, three years after the Minutemen won the NCAA championship.

Michigan State was 34-60-5 during his three years in East Lansing.

“It’s been an interesting ride the past four years, but I’ve enjoyed it,” Nodler said. “It’s actually gone by very quickly.”

Before going to Michigan State, Nodler played one season with the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League, the top junior hockey league sanctioned by USA Hockey. He compiled 42 points in 54 games and earned a spot on the league’s All-Rookie Team.

He played for the prestigious Honeybaked hockey program prior to his junior hockey season and, in 2017, he led the U.S. Under-17 Select Team to the Five Nations Tournament championship in the Czech Republic, scoring two goals and three assists in four games.

Nodler’s family attends Congregation Beth Shalom.

Send sports news to

Previous articleIsrael at 75: The Innovation Nation
Next articleVolunteer(s) of the Week: Ron and Steve Elkus