Monday, April 12, 2010

Coaching Search Over

Word on the street is that BGSU's search for a new coach has concluded and an announcement will be made today that Miami Assistant Chris Bergeron will be the new face behind the Falcon bench.

A former Miami hockey player and member of the school's 1992-1993 CCHA Championship team, Bergeron has been on the Redhawk coaching staff for 10 years. He will not be a completely new face to the Northwest Ohio scene, as he spent time with the Toledo Storm in his ECHL playing days.

You can't argue with the success Miami has had in recent years, as the Redhawks have made six of the last seven NCAA tournaments and reached the Frozen Four in consecutive years. Miami ended the 2009-2010 season with an overall record of 29-8-7 and 21-2-5 in conference play. Hopefully Bergeron will be able to bring some of that successful pedigree to the Falcon bench in the 2010-2011 season.

Of course, I can't conclude this post without saying how disappointed I am for Coach Williams. He performed admirably with a team that had just come back from the brink of non-existence, was making strides, and had the support of the Falcon faithful. As much as I have hope that Coach Bergeron will bring this team back to glory, I can't help but feel for Coach Williams, if the rumors turn out to be true.

I'll be keeping my eyes and ears open the rest of the day for any official word of the hire.

I know there are strong opinions out there about this situation, and I'd love to hear what you have to say. Feel free to drop a line or two in the comments to tell me what you think.

*Update* 10:33AM - The new hire has been confirmed. BG News Sports blog posted an article about the pick at 9:45 and now features a splash page welcoming Coach Bergeron to BGSU, along with an article about the hire. A press conference has been scheduled for 4:00pm.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Coaching Search Concluding Soon? (via Sentinel-Tribune)

As spring rolls in and the collegiate hockey season comes to a close, the BG Sentinel-Tribune is reporting the BGSU Hockey coaching search is nearing a conclusion.

Jason Knavel, Assistant AD for Athletics Communication is quoted in the article as saying, "I would expect news within the next two weeks and possibly sooner than that depending on how quickly things progress."

So who is on the radar?

A number of names have been kicked around in the press and among BGSU hockey fans.

One obvious name that has been floated is former OSU coach and BGSU alum John Markell whose contract with the Buckeyes was not renewed. According to The Lantern, Markell's overall coaching record was 280-267-56. Despite a number of successful years, the Buckeyes' record over the past four seasons was 65-76-18.

The general opinion I've heard of this option is not a positive one. While I personally don't know enough about Markell to have a strong opinion, I've heard less than flattering opinions from people I trust when it comes to matters of CCHA hockey. As much as I would like to experience some of the success Markell brought to OSU (like a 1998 Frozen Four appearance), his inability to sustain or recreate that success is certainly a concern.

Another name I have heard mentioned is Todd Reirden, current Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins coach and former Falcon assistant. As much as I would love Todd to come to Bowling Green, I have to see it as a bit of a pipe dream. The last coach to lead the Baby Pens went on to the big show and won a Stanley Cup. Reirden has to be thinking he has the same opportunity if he sticks around.

I've made my feeling on the coaching search very clear - give Dennis Williams the chance to prove himself. I won't re-hash those feelings, as I've covered them in great detail, but I will be watching closely as the situation develops.

So, Falcon fans, who is on your short list of most wanted coaches for the BG icers? Who's your dream hire? Who do you think we'll end up with? Any long-shots you'd like to throw out there for potential bragging rights?

Please let me know what you're thinking in the comments, because I'm curious to hear the thoughts and opinions of people who follow these things more closely than I do.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Post-Season Awards - Most Improved Player and Team MVP

And now, after excessive delay, here is the final installment of the Falcon Hockey Hooligan Post-Season Awards.

Award winners previously named:

Flying Under the Radar: Andrew Hammond
Runner(s)-up: Cameron Sinclair, Marc Rodriguez, and Max Grover, Ian Ruel

Freshman of the Year: Jordan Samuels-Thomas
Runner(s)-up: Nathan Pageau

Defensive MVP: Kyle Page
Runner(s)-up: Ian Ruel

Offensive MVP:Tomas Petruska
Runner(s)-up: Tommy Dee

This week's awards: Most Improved Player and Team MVP.

For those who don't remember or didn't see it at the time, the mid-season Most Improved Player was Tommy Dee.

The post-season award will go to someone who has already been named for a previous award - Tomas Petruska.

I won't go into too much detail, because Petruska's accomplishments this season have been spelled out pretty well over the last half-dozen posts or so. It's safe to say he went from a well-liked and respected role player last season, to a star this season, especially over the final few weeks.

Runner-up: Nick Eno

And, finally, after weeks and weeks of waiting, here it is - Team MVP.

Choosing the Team MVP was a very difficult decision. Among the players considered were Tomas Petruska, Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Kyle Page, and Nick Eno. Ultimately, I decided to stick with the mid-season winner, Nick Eno.

As is usually the case when I have put praise on Falcon goaltenders this season, I'm sure there are people out there who would simply look at the team's record and dismiss the pick. If you're one of those people, you're certainly entitled to that stance. The win-loss record was abysmal and that can't be ignored.

But it's important to also look beyond the record. Anyone who watched Eno (and Hammond, for that matter) in games would know that the team's goaltending kept them in a position to win, most of the time.

Nick Eno made great strides this year as he continued to get back to form after an inconsistent sophomore season. Eno deserves a ton of credit for his improvement and performance this season.

Runner-up: Dennis Williams

The awards are for the players, which is why I didn't consider Coach Williams for the Team MVP, but I think he's at least deserving of a runner-up nod. Coach took a team that was on the verge of non-existence and losing players, and managed to salvage a season of hard-fought games and a team that never gave up.

As the University conducts its hiring search for the next BGSU hockey head coach, I sincerely hope they take into consideration what Coach Williams did in such extreme circumstances, the energy he brought to the team, and the faith the fans have in the job he can do.

If you ask me, my vote is safely with Coach Williams.

Anyway, that concludes the Post-Season Awards for 2009-2010. As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts about the whole thing in the comments.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Post-Season Awards - Offensive and Defensive MVP

Welcome to installment #2 of the 3-part Post-Season Awards series.

For those just joining us, here are awards given at a previous ceremony:

Flying Under the Radar: Andrew Hammond
Runner(s)-up: Cameron Sinclair, Marc Rodriguez, and Max Grover, Ian Ruel

Freshman of the Year: Jordan Samuels-Thomas
Runner(s)-up: Nathan Pageau

Now that we're up to speed, let's get on with naming the next two awards.

Defensive MVP

Overall this year the Falcons had their share of defensive issues. The team gave up almost four goals per game and only had three players with a positive +/- rating, two of whom played less than 20 games.

Throughout the season, though, there were a number of players who showed signs of promise. Some players improved greatly over their previous seasons. One player stood out above the rest. That player was Kyle Page.

Another shocker. This awards thing is turning out to be pretty boring, eh?

Wait. Forget I wrote that. This is exciting stuff! You should keep reading!

But in all seriousness, Kyle Page deserves the nod for this award for continuing to be a part of the "glue" that held this team together. When the program was in its darkest hours, Kyle stuck with it, persevered, and has come out of it with a professional contract and the admiration of many BGSU fans.

Kyle Page is the definition of a leader, which is important on an underclassman-heavy defensive unit. On the ice, despite often giving up significant size to his opponents, he battled for the puck, blocked shots, finished his checks, and gave the Falcons offensive chances that helped keep them in games. Off the ice, Kyle excelled in the classroom and in life, earning three nominations for the CCHA's Scholar-Athlete of the Year Award, and twice being named to the CCHA All-Academic First Team. Additionally, he received the Jack Gregory Scholar-Athlete Award and the Dr. Ron Zwierlein Leadership Award for the 2008-2009 season.

Kyle finished the season fourth in scoring, notching three goals and dishing out 14 assists. On the defensive side of things, he blocked 71 shots. Try to wrap your head around that for a moment - 71 frozen vulcanized rubber missiles that he willingly stepped in front of. Any team would be happy to have a player like that on their side.

Also worthy of mention are Ian Ruel, who is showing early signs of being a solid defender, and Andrew Krelove, who has made great strides in his game since last season.

Offensive MVP

There were a number of players at the top of the pack this season offensively. Tomas Petruska, Tommy Dee, David Solway, Jordan Samuels-Thomas and Kyle Page all stepped up at various times to carry the offensive load. You could probably make the case for any one of them, but I will avoid taking the easy way out and choose one. My offensive MVP is Tomas Petruska.

Locked in a close race at mid-season with Tommy Dee and Jordan Samuels-Thomas, Petruska was edged out for the award. While his overall production dropped off after the mid-point of the season (4-10-14 / 6-4-10) his goal scoring increased, and he came up big when it mattered. Most fans will long remember Petruska as the hero of shootouts against Notre Dame and Michigan State.

Petruska isn't the flashiest player on the ice, and I think his straight-forward style often left him out of the spotlight, but his physical play in the offensive end often resulted in loose pucks and scoring chances for the Falcons, and you can't argue with his success late in the season. It seemed whenever the Falcons needed a big boost or a clutch goal, Petruska was there to make it happen.

Tomas will be moving on after a fantastic senior season to join the Las Vegas Wranglers, reuniting with former Falcon Jimmy Spratt.

Both Petruska and Page have contributed in a big way to the Falcons over the past four years, and both will be dearly missed. I am sure I speak for all Falcon fans when I wish them the best of luck in the future with their professional careers and beyond.

Check back next week (hopefully!) for the final two awards, Most Improved Player and Team MVP, and as always, feel free to leave me a comment and let me know how you feel about my picks or make suggestions for the final two awards.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Post-Season Awards - Flying Under the Radar and Freshman of the Year

This is the first installment of a series of post-season awards blogs. In this post I will name the winners of two awards: the somewhat nebulous "Flying Under the Radar" award, and the "Freshman of the Year" award.

As always, my picks and opinions are open to debate, and I welcome feedback and criticism in the comments.

Now, on to the awards.

Flying Under the Radar

The Flying Under the Radar award, as I have said previously, was mostly dreamed up as a way to point out what I thought was a great deal of potential in mid-season winner Wade Finegan. He's a strong, hard-working player with a bit of a mean streak, and I like the Falcons to have a few players like that. With the physical Kai Kantola graduating and moving on to an amateur tryout with the Norfolk Admirals and trusty captain Kyle Page joining the Toledo Walleye, the Falcons are going to need someone to step up and fill that void.

But this post isn't about the previous winner, it's time to name the post-season winner - Andrew Hammond.

Hammond's season, to me, was the definition of un-tapped potential. His stat line for the season was fairly disappointing: 13 starts, 0-12-2 record, 4.30 GAA, and 88.0 save %.

That being said, every time I looked at his stats, I was absolutely shocked to see that he hadn't won a game in overtime or regulation. He showed many flashes of greatness, standing on his head to keep the Falcons in games, but just never got the breaks to put a notch in the win column. Considering his play in the Miami and Michigan State series, I don't think it will take long before Hammond makes a big impact on the BGSU hockey team.

Also, a quick story to share. During pre-season practices, I went for a ride around campus and decided to stop for a moment at the Ice Arena. I went inside and noticed the team preparing for a practice, so I sat in Section D and watched for a while. As players made their way to the ice one-by-one, others were already taking shots on the empty net and working on passing. Just as one player shot the puck around the boards, a goalie was just stepping onto the ice. The puck whipped around at face-level, but the player snagged the puck with his glove-hand without having more than a second to react. I seem to remember at the time thinking it was Hammond. It may not have been, but having seen some of the saves he made, especially in the closing moments of the MSU series, it certainly wouldn't surprise me. Maybe Andrew or someone in the know could confirm this one for me.

Of course, there are plenty of other players whose futures I am excited about as well. Cameron Sinclair, Marc Rodriguez, and Max Grover showed a ton of heart and grit in the second series with Notre Dame, helping the Falcons to buck the years-long winless streak against Notre Dame. Also on the radar is Ian Ruel, whose size and physical play brought early comparisons to a young Rob Blake.

Anyway, moving on to award #2.

Freshman of the Year

At mid-season, there was really no room for debate on this one. Jordan Samuels-Thomas wasn't just leading the Falcons in scoring, he was near the top of a number of other conference and national lists as well. He took the ice by storm and won the appreciation of many of the Falcon faithful. Naming him as the winner of the award was really just a formality. Now that the season has come to a close, the winner is:

Jordan Samuels-Thomas

I'll give you a moment to compose yourself.

It was very tempting to name a different winner for this award, but ultimately I didn't think I could. JS-T ended the season in the same position statistically as he held at the break - the top. Samuels-Thomas finished the season with 11 goals and 14 assists for 25 points, a one goal edge over late-season hero Tomas Petruska.

Samuels-Thomas' play was a key to the Falcons successes this season, as he frustrated opponents early and often, making them work hard to account for him, and opening up the ice for other players in the process.

The reason I was tempted to choose a different winner, though, was that his production dropped off in the second half. Hampered by a short-lived illness and facing teams who had learned a thing or two about slowing him down, JS-T's numbers faded a bit. Through the first half of the season, he collected six goals and nine assists for 15 points. In the final 18 games, he recorded only five goals and five assists, for a total of 10 points.

Another player I strongly considered for this award was Nathan Pageau. His hustle and offensive spark bode well for the Falcons' future, and his ability to step up against high-profile opponents should make him a hit with the fans. Of Pageau's 11 points this season, six came during games against Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame.

Well, there you have it. My picks for the Flying Under the Radar award and the Freshman of the Year award.

The next two awards to be named will be Offensive MVP and Defensive MVP, followed by Most Improved Player and Team MVP.

As always, feel free to give your opinions in the comments. Tell my why I'm right, tell me where I messed it up, suggest someone for the upcoming awards, or just tell me about your day. As long as I see a couple of comments on the post, I'm a happy guy.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Season Wrap-Up

As the BGSU ice hockey season draws to a close, I inevitably start trying to put the season into perspective. What did we achieve? What did we learn? Who stood out and who faded away?

Following the conclusion of the Falcons' run in the CCHA playoffs, the bulk of the posts will be about looking back on the season that was. As was the case at mid-season, I will name the "winners" of a series of awards. To review, I will name players for the following awards:

Freshman of the Year (Midseason winner: Jordan Samuels-Thomas)
Most Improved Player (Midseason winner: Tommy Dee)
Offensive MVP (Midseason winner: Tommy Dee)
Defensive MVP (Midseason winner: Kyle Page)
Flying Under the Radar (Midseason winner: Wade Finegan)
Team MVP (Midseason winner: Nick Eno)

In addition to these individual awards, I'll be giving commentary on all sorts of other issues as they come to mind. If you have any specific topics you'd like to see discussed, feel free to leave them in the comments. Also, if you'd like to give your opinions on any of the topics or awards I've pointed out here (or anything else, for that matter). Leave them in a comment and maybe I'll share them on the blog.

Anyway, BG is down 4-1 right now to Duh Mavs (Brennan Vargas just scored!) but things aren't looking pretty. Anything's possible, but it's going to take something surprising to turn this around. Anyone who knows me knows I don't believe it's over until the buzzer sounds, so I still have hope. But, should this game not go the way of the Falcons, you can expect the wrap-up posts to start within the next few days.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Bowling Green Falcons v. Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks

Friday, 3/5/2010 @ 8:35PM - Qwest Center Omaha - Omaha, Nebraska
Saturday, 3/6/2010 @ 8:05PM - Qwest Center Omaha - Omaha, Nebraska
Sunday, 3/7/2010 @ 8:05PM (If necessary) - Qwest Center Omaha - Omaha, Nebraska


-Record: 5-23-6 (4-18-6-5)
-Last game: v. Michigan State T 2-2 (SOW)

-Record: 18-14-6 (13-12-3-2)
-Last game: v. Bemidji State W 3-2

Last time out...

Does MSU know everyone dies at the end of 300?

Last week the Falcons faced off against the Spartans of Michigan State University in the customary end of the season home-and-home series. Friday night's game at Munn was MSU's senior night, and Saturday's game in the BG Ice Arena was senior night for the Falcons. The home fans went home happy both nights.

The Spartans won the first matchup 5-2, dominating play throughout the game. Josh Boyd and Marc Rodriguez scored for the Falcons, but it wasn't enough. The Spartans cruised to an easy victory, allowing senior netminder Bobby Jarosz to take the ice for the final 9:00 of the game (and his college hockey career).

Saturday night was a much closer contest. MSU's Andrew Rowe opened the scoring just over 8:00 into the first period, assisted by Nick Sucharski and Dustin Gazley. David Solway answered early in the second to tie the game, setup by last week's hero Tomas Petruska and freshman phenom Jordan Samuels-Thomas. Samuels-Thomas went on to score a goal of his own, with Solway returning the assist favor, and help from Tommy Dee. With just 5:00 remaining in the game, Trevor Nill and Torey Krug set up MSU's Chris Forfar for the game-tying goal. The extra period was scoreless, resulting in a shootout.

The only successful conversion of the shootout was tallied by senior Tomas Petruska, giving the Falcons a Saturday shootout win for the second week in a row.

Falcons Look to Give "Duh Mavs" Unhappy Exit

Tonight BGSU takes the show on the road to Omaha, Nebraska for the first round of the CCHA Playoffs. The Falcons are hoping to see the Mavs out of the conference with a playoff defeat as they run along to the WCHA.

The teams have a rocky history, with UN-O fans insisting the teams are rivals, and BGSU fans not really caring one way or the other.

This year the matchup has a bit more drama, as the first meeting ended in disappointment and controversy for Nebraska. For those unfamiliar with the situation, freshman Jordan Samuels-Thomas (AKA "The Hyphen") scored the shootout winning goal, despite being technically ineligible due to being in the penalty box at the end of OT. Despite a late protest by Nebraska, the goal stood, and the Falcons picked up the extra point. Much bitterness ensued.

Duh Mavs' fans also like to point out a particular dark moment in the history of BGSU hockey (which I won't detail here), accusing the Falcons of all sorts of sexual deviancy. But, I guess, if anyone knows anything about sexual deviancy, it would probably be people from Nebraska.

In the "funny names" department, Nebraska is surprisingly deficient, with only forward Nick "Dontcha Wanna" Fanto standing head and shoulders above the rest. I think that's good enough.

What to watch for: Nebraska-Omaha

In terms of scoring, the Mavericks are led by junior Rich Purslow (14-13-27) and senior Eddie DelGrosso (6-21-27). Seven more Mavs have more than 20 points for the season, and a total of five UN-O players have more than 10 goals.

Redshirt freshman John Faulkner (13-10-4, 2.69 GAA, 90.5%) has taken care of the majority of the goaltending duties this season, backed up by senior Jeremie Dupont (5-4-2, 2.97 GAA, 88.6%).

After starting the new year 1-4-1, the Mavericks have turned things around, going 8-3-1-1 leading up to the playoffs. That run has included sweeps of Northern Michigan and the University of Michigan, as well as splits with #1 Miami and nationally ranked Bemidji State.

What to watch for: Bowling Green

The Falcons head into the playoffs on the upswing, after a regulation win and a shootout win against Notre Dame and an exciting shootout victory over Michigan State. Production has picked up from young and old Falcons, including a great showing by the underclassmen in the Notre Dame series and the breakout clutch play of senior Tomas Petruska.

Jordan Samuels-Thomas (11-13-24) and Tomas Petruska (9-14-23) lead the Falcons in scoring for the season.

The Falcons have allowed an average of 3.7 goals/game this season, which means the defense will have to step up to keep the Mavericks' strong scorers at bay. Fortunately, the play of the Falcon goaltenders has been impressive at the end of the season, so hopefully that bodes well for BGSU. Nick Eno, in his the Notre Dame series, had a save percentage of 93.7. Andrew Hammond, in the shootout win against MSU had a save percentage of 94.1.

The last time the two teams met, Eno stopped 40 of 43 (93.5%) shot attempts in regulation and overtime as the Falcons took a shootout win. The next night, Hammond fought off 30 of 33 shots (90.9%) in a 3-1 loss.

Here's to a great series and an appearance in the second round of the playoffs.