A View From the Other Side: BGSUHockey.com

BGSU captain Camden Wojtala. (Photo credit: pointstreaksites.com)

BGSU captain Camden Wojtala. (Photo credit: pointstreaksites.com)

Drew Evans of BGSUHockey.com reached out to us before we could reach out to him on an idea that we apparently all had: trading thoughts about our team’s prospects to the other team’s fans.  We know that you’re probably a little tired of hearing from us week-in, week-out, so why not another voice?  Michael and I fired the Falcons guys six questions, which you’ll see below.  If you don’t know, BGSU’s program was under grave threat of closure just a few years for ours.  What you’re seeing in Ohio is a beacon in the light of what we’d all agree are dark times for our program.  Hang in there, everybody.

UAHHockey.com: What’s it like to come back from the brink of elimination as a program to a team strongly competing in the conference?  How did the fan base stay committed to the program during the transition?

It’s honestly been a roller coaster ride. My (very small, probably insignificant) addition to the program’s revival was creating the “Save BGSU Hockey” Facebook page. Thousands of members later I realized how tight knit this college hockey community truly is. Now, that’s not to say that there weren’t growing pains as the team has re-built itself into a competitive team every night. But to have been lucky enough to cover the team from the single digit wins to competing for a conference championship; it’s been truly special.

We have one of the most dedicated fan bases in the country. Even with the team living in the cellar hockey routinely outdrew our basketball team, despite the round ball team having a few decent years. I also want to point out our awesome student section: The Bleacher Creatures. The Creatures got their start back in the late 70s. Unfortunately it’s a tradition that fell by the wayside. But, in the past two seasons a few dedicated students have picked the torch up and ran with it. We truly have a rink that’s very tough to play in thanks to those weirdos.

[Ed.: Blue Crew, you have your aspirational target. —GFM]

UAHHockey.com: Has the student involvement at BG always been as high as it is right now?  What drives that?  Are there other successful sports at the school?

Our student involvement was highest in the 80s as the team was winning conference championships and even the 1984 National Championship. Losing seasons really hurt our student attendance and some nights the arena felt more like a wake than a hockey game. But, like I wrote about above, our Bleacher Creatures have made the “Arena With No Name” a very difficult venue to walk out with a win.

These people are just a little scary.

These people are just a little scary.

Currently we’re experiencing an improving football team that is actually playing the Mid-American Conference Championship Friday night (we’re not expecting a great attendance number Friday). Also, our women’s basketball team has become one of the perennial mid-major powerhouses and seems to be eyeing an NCAA tournament berth again this year. Our baseball team also had a Cinderella year last year as they made the NCAA Tournament.

UAHHockey.com: What do you make of the rumor that BG wants out of the WCHA and in a league with other Division I programs?

I can’t tell you whether there have been any back room talks with other schools about re-creating the CCHA. I do know that before BG accepted the WCHA invitation they were attempting to bring some of the Atlantic Hockey teams on board that had expressed a desire to go to full scholarships. When these teams couldn’t commit that quickly BG was left with no other option than to accept the WCHA bid.

I realize that to you all (or, y’all) complaining about travel will fall on deaf ears. But, for a school that already sponsors 17 other division one sports, two road trips next year to Alaska plus the bus trips out to Bemidji and Mankato are tough to slot into our budget. If I had to take a shot in the dark I’d say the CCHA or something similar will probably be “reanimated” within 10 years due to the travel costs alone.

UAHHockey.com: Beyond the guys making noise on the scoresheet — Williamson, De Salvo, Cooper, Tate, Freibergs — who are the guys that we’ll notice on the ice when we see them?

We’ve got a talented group of freshman that have slotted in well. Matt Pohlkamp has seen some time on our top line and is already one of our better two-way players. Sean Walker is a punishing defenseman who plays a very physical game despite his smaller size. He’s also a great skater with good hands. Dajon Mingo is also going to be an interesting player to keep an eye on. He scored his first two goals since February of earlier this year this past weekend. He’ll create plays with his speed but at times he tries to do just a little too much. We’re wondering if his two goals will help spark him going forward.

Everybody loves a group celly.

Everybody loves a group celly.

UAHHockey.com: You’ve had a 50-50 goalie situation this season a bit like ours: when you account for the quality of the team’s performance in front of them, there’s not a huge gap between the two of them.  Do you see Tommy Burke pulling away as the season goes on?

We’ll use a “1A, 1B” system all year unless there is an injury or one of our guys tanks. Coach Bergeron really likes the two goal system because it forces teams to game plan for two different goalies. You’ll face Tommy Burke on Friday. Burke has been solid this season and plays with a lot of poise for only being a sophomore. On Saturday Tomas Sholl will be between the pipes. Sholl saw a bit of fame when a video of him making a save on Sidney Crosby during the lockout went viral. Some of his saves are unorthodox and at times he gets a little out of position. But, he’ll make a few saves a game that will make you shake your head.

UAHHockey.com: What do you think your high water mark is for the season?  Are you looking to be at-home in the first round and see if you can ride some hot goaltending?

If you would have asked me two weeks ago I would have told you we’ll be hosting a first round playoff series in any spot from 2-4. With the team’s recent struggles and inability to hold on to leads I think we’ve slipped closer to a 4-6 seed. We’re just a tough team to gauge because of a couple key injuries. Our best offensive weapon Ryan Carpenter has been out all season with injuries and our power forward Adam Berkle went down this weekend with a hip pointer. Carpenter seems to be heading towards a comeback when we travel down your way with Berkle probably out at least a few weeks.

With that said our schedule here on out is home heavy with some of the lesser teams in the conference. It’s possible we make a big run and host a series. I realize this is a wishy-washy answer but with the bipolar performances I’ve seen it’s just too hard to make a call.

[Our replies to their questions are in the BGSUHockey.com weekend preview. —GFM]

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