What do you do when your team perennially underperforms while your fanbase grows increasingly restless?
Hire a dynamic alumnus of your program who, as an assistant coach with another successful program, made four straight trips to the Frozen Four which culminated in a national championship.
Good work, Bowling Green. Very good indeed.
A former All-American and All-CCHA selection, Scott Paluch should be a familiar face in the CCHA, having played (1984-88) and coached (1990-94) at Bowling Green.
Having just signed on, Paluch is still learning the ins and outs of his current players, but he is vocal about what the Falcon program needs immediately.
“We definitely need to make a statement here,” Paluch said. “We look at the preseason polls, and obviously that’s motivation for our team to get back and establish ourselves and make a statement that we’re a player in this fine conference.”
Picked 11th in both the coaches and media preseason polls, Paluch and his Falcons will have their collective work cut out for them if they are to reverse popular opinion about Bowling Green hockey.
To that end, Paluch is intent on “developing a culture of how hard” the Falcons need to work, an everyday ethic. “That, I think, is the important thing right now that we’re going through.”
Good Enough, Smart Enough, But Doggone It…
There’s no question that one of the team’s strengths is its goaltending. Senior Tyler Masters has long been the best thing on a mediocre squad, and Paluch would like to see the netminder get some support.
“Every team to be successful in college hockey has got to be solid in goal, and we’re fortunate to have very good goalies, very capable goalies,” said Paluch. “Tyler Masters has played a lot of games over his first three years and heading into his senior year we’re looking to take a bit of the burden off of him with the number of shots he sees on a nightly basis, but we’re also looking for a tremendous year from him, not only on the ice but in terms of leadership as well.
“Jordan Sigalet got some good playing time a year ago and he’s going to add to that.”
Masters saw more shots per game (30.94) than any goaltender in the CCHA last season, and he was fourth in the conference (959) in saves made — in just 31 games.
Obviously, something’s got to give.
Give Until It Hurts, Then Give Some More
Defense. The Falcons need it, from front to back, top to bottom. It’s not just a matter of having been outshot by opponents 1482-1160 last season. It’s not merely having allowed more goals per game in overall play than any other team in the league.
It’s a smart forecheck. It’s fewer penalties, especially when your penalty kill is not especially effective.
It’s playing with your head in the game, and playing with good, old-fashioned hustle.
Paluch said that in addition to a good work ethic, he and his coaching staff want to “establish an up-tempo, get-after-it type of game. We want to create more offense from that.”
Led by Kevin Bieska, the Falcon blue line welcomes three newcomers, so progress in BG’s own end may come slowly at first.
And Give For A Worthy Cause
Remember the explosive Falcon offense of days gone by? No? Well, it’s been a while.
“Up front, our captain, D’Arcy McConvey, is our leading point returner. He’s going to shoulder the bulk of the load from a production standpoint,” said Paluch. “He made a big jump a year ago, getting close to 30 points, and now we’re looking for him in his last two years to make the statement we think he can make.
“[With] our other assistant captain, Tyler Knight, we look at our needs and what we need to improve on for this coming year. We need to limit the chances against us and create a lot more [offensive] chances.”
Falcons, repeat after me: “We think we can. We think we can.”
Maybe a good dose of positive thinking is what Bowling Green needs, and there is no one better to provide it than Paluch.
“I’m really excited to be back in the CCHA,” said Paluch. “This conference, night in and night out, is without a doubt one of the tops in college hockey.”
This from a man who just left Boston College. You know, that Boston College, the one in Hockey East.