2012-2013 Missouri State Hockey
by Steve Casson, Staff WRITER
04/14/12 - SPRINGFIELD, MO - Second time is a charm for Bob Bucher as he becomes the 5th head coach in Missouri State Ice Bears hockey history.
A resident of St. Louis, Bucher had the chance to become boss two seasons ago but circumstances prevented that.
After experiencing the run to the National Championship with the Affton Americans Central States U18 team in 2006, and running into former Ice Bears head coach Benjamin Alexander, Bucher knew at some point that coaching at the college or junior level was where he wanted and needed to be.
“I remember Benjamin being at our games back then telling me the story of the Missouri State program and looking for players to complete that story,” said Bucher.
Bucher says he didn't think anyone could or would have tried to predict the take off and national recognition Missouri has experienced in the last 5 to 7 years, particularly in St Louis.
Bucher says he believes many great players have been developed during this time that would want to continue playing at or near the level they have achieved when they move on through school.
“Missouri State is one of the schools they look at due in large part to all the hard work done by the management of the organization, and the other coaches here before me,” says Bucher.
Coaching in an area that has encountered growth, Bucher knows he’s in a good position to make that transition to the next level in Springfield. Many of the players Bucher has coached before he will teach again.
“I come to the Ice Bears to regain the winning tradition that once was, a team that makes fans old and new not wanting to miss a game because of the fun, excitement, and respect we earn with our play on the ice.”
Ask Bucher what his coaching philosophy is and you will receive a simple answer.
“A great offense wins games but a great defense wins championships,” explains Bucher.
He adds: “The Ice Bears will be a strong, disciplined, and aggressive team on the defensive side of the puck that transitions quickly to an offense, which stresses strength in numbers, creativity and freedom. Energy, Urgency, and Intensity.”
Bucher had an opportunity to stand behind the bench during the final two regular season games of 2011-2012 against the St. Louis Billikens.
“A couple games with the team at the end of the season were important for me. The strengths I bring to the team will be structure, discipline, and allowing the sense of team that was hidden to come out.”
Bucher and assistant player-coach Tyler Polizzi witnessed an Ice Bears set a team record in the last game of the regular season by scoring 5 unanswered goals and winning the contest 6-5 in overtime, giving the Ice Bears a 5th place finish going into the Mid-America Collegiate Hockey Association league playoffs.
“These players want success for themselves, each other, and the program, that was evident by the heart and character they showed in both games,” detailed Bucher.
“I saw them searching for a leader and supporter in achieving this success, my strength is my ability to be this leader.”
Missouri State has not qualified for the ACHA Division 2 Regional tournament, a stepping stone to the National tournament, since 2008-2009 after 4 straight appearances.
“Making the regional tournament will be an expectation of ours. I believe it is important for a team to set a goal to reach at the beginning of the year and have expectations to fill in achieving that goal.”
Asked about the objective Bucher says he hopes the Ice Bears are part of the spotlight in March, especially since the 2013 ACHA Division 2 Nationals will be in St. Louis.
“With the opportunity to play in a National tournament at large, our goal should be to reach that tournament and play on the last day of the year.”
To be successful Bucher says the players will know what is expected of them on the ice and says performing to his expectations as a team will lead to a complete game.
“Depth will be a strong point of our team and we will utilize that depth by staying fresh with short hard shifts which will help in minimizing not only physical mistakes but also mental lulls that often lead to problems in playing an entire game.”
Bucher believes the 2012-2013 campaign will be a coming out season for the Ice Bears and he expects the players to work hard in the off season getting ready for tryouts and the mini-camp at the end of August.
Bucher says he will demand that same hard work on the ice in both practice and games, but still requires the same of himself.
“Attitude reflects leadership to me, so I will have to work just as hard to be ready with them,” states Bucher.
“It’s also important for the players to have fun, and enjoy what they and the team are doing, while working hard to achieve our goal.”