2011-12 Season Preview: Bowling Green

With former Miami captain and assistant coach Chris Bergeron taking the reins, last season the Bowling Green State University Falcons finished in the basement of the CCHA winning just three league games and ten overall. However, the ten wins were a dramatic improvement from 2009-10 when they won just five games in an absolutely forgettable season.

With the continued uncertainly surrounding the Falcons once proud hockey program, this off season hasn’t been anything to write home about. And, without a conference affiliation for 2013 and beyond (they have been extended an invitation to join the WCHA but have not yet accepted), the Falcons saw their best player, junior Jordan Samuels-Thomas, transfer to Quinnipiac. Samuels-Thomas led Bowling Green in scoring each of his two seasons in the orange and brown. Sadly, the program once again looks unsteady even with recent improvements made to their home rink and having professed a desire to be included in the new NCHC with MAC brethren Western Michigan and Miami.

The latest rumor surrounding the Falcons was first published by Bruce Ciskie, the voice of the defending champion UMD Bulldogs on his Twitter feed, and then again on his blog. Ciskie is reporting the Falcons have asked the WCHA for more time as they consider the league’s invitation, but that they have met with four Atlantic Hockey schools, Canisius, Mercyhurst, Niagara and Robert Morris, about potentially starting yet another new college hockey league. In addition, the Buffalo Bulls, who currently field a club hockey team, could be convinced to move to Division I, and perhaps even UAH could be included in discussions. If this pans out, this league would actually make a ton of sense for all involved. First, the Falcons would have a far greater chance of competing, the geography and travel would be much better than making trips to Minnesota and Alaska, and it would not only save a program (Alabama-Huntsville), but even add one in the University at Buffalo. More on this as the story develops.

On and off the ice, the story continues to be somewhat bleak as BG lost their best player, then had two incoming freshmen declared non-qualifiers by the NCAA and the recruiting pipeline does not appear to be loaded with top-end talent. But, they do return junior goaltender Andrew Hammond who posted respectable numbers (2.67 GAA, .915) and three of their top five scorers. However, those three combined for just 48 points (Hobey Baker winner Andy Miele had 71 for Miami last season), but it’s something.

Generally speaking, BG’s recent recruiting classes feature kids from second tier junior leagues and do not possess the depth as top tier teams that are pulling the best from the USNTDP, USHL, BCHL and the east coast. Of course Bergeron has been working with the specter of their program folding, marginally renovated facilities and now the problem of not having a conference. Looking at their incoming recruits, at first blush, there doesn’t appear to be a ton in the tank, but hopefully for the Falcons, some of these guys are late bloomers. On the positive side, Bergeron’s first recruiting class seems to have landed more size for the Falcons, which would follow the trend of when he recruited larger players at Miami to fit a tough, physical style that both he and Enrico Blasi utilized successfully behind the RedHawks’ bench.

Overall, I think 2011-12 is going to be another tough season in northwest Ohio.

Season Prediction

Ceiling — 9th

Floor — 11th

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Posted on September 26, 2011, in Bowling Green, Uncategorized and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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