In this millennium, Bowling Green has finished above ninth place twice — a fifth-place finish in 2004-05 and seventh in 2007-08.
Given that four of the last five seasons have seen the Falcons at or next to the bottom of the CCHA standings, new coach Chris Bergeron understands the need to change things, wholesale, at BGSU.
“The culture we want to create is one where we just have very high expectations for ourselves and for each other and we hold each other accountable for those expectations,” said Bergeron, who served as an assistant for 10 years at Miami. “The focus will be daily improvement, the focus will be details. The details are both on and off the ice; the daily improvement is both on and off the ice.”
Last year, the Falcons registered four league wins (five overall) and sported the second-lowest offensive output in the country, combined with a defense that was fourth from the bottom in the nation.
“We’re going to work extremely hard and we’re going to be relentless in all three zones, with or without the puck,” said Bergeron, who added that his team already understands the importance of this work ethic. “It’s something that we’ve been harping on since April 12, since we took over here.”
Even with recent Falcons history being what it is, Bergeron sees a lot of potential in his new team, particularly with the goaltending duo of senior Nick Eno and sophomore Andrew Hammond, who each saw significant time in the net last year.
“I think the sky’s the limit on what they’re capable of,” Bergeron said. “I think we have to do a much, much better job of limiting their job to the first job. Watching tape, our team defense wasn’t very good last year and I’m not talking about defensemen; I’m talking collectively as a group our team defense wasn’t good.
“I do believe [goal is] our deepest position … and those two kids in particular have an opportunity to carry us to wherever we want to go as a team, but it has to start collectively from the team defense perspective.”
Another bright spot for BG is sophomore Jordan Samuels-Thomas, who showed a lot of promise last year.
“He’s a guy that turned some heads last year and had a nice freshman year,” Bergeron said. “What he needs to do is take his game from the freshman year to the sophomore year in consistency.
“He also needs to realize that this isn’t a show about one person, that this is a team effort and team aspect and that is something that I know he’s taken strides in and taken very personally from last year to this year, so we’re looking forward to that.”
As for the rest of the new beginning in BG, Bergeron said, “It’ll be a collective effort, for sure.”