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Falcon Icers share unique trait with two hockey powerhouses

Any time a college hockey program is mentioned in the same breath with Boston University and North Dakota, generally, a positive association is made.

This season, the Falcon hockey team joined that duo as the only Division I hockey programs in the nation to currently boast an all-alumni coaching staff.

While it may or may not be a coincidence that the team’s single season turnaround from 12th to fifth in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association runs parallel to the coaching staff’s newfound unity, one thing is for sure.

The tradition that is BG hockey has never been prouder from the top-down than in 2007-08.

Last July, Todd Reirden (BGSU class of 1994) joined Doug Schueller (’01) as the second assistant coach under Scott Paluch (’91).

In addition, Tyler Masters (’03), who played goalie for Paluch in his senior season, came back to fulfill the role of goaltending coach while he completes graduate work at BG.

Thus, these four men, simply by once wearing Orange and Brown themselves, have instilled in the team this year a great sense of pride.

‘One of the main ingredients of college hockey is passion,’ said Paluch. ‘Clearly, Doug, Todd and Tyler bring a lot of that to the job every day. It’s easy to feel that way when you’re with your alma mater, especially here at Bowling Green.

‘There’s so many tremendous memories and it’s easy to feel really good about being here.’

The four coaches themselves represent somewhat of a timeline of Falcon hockey over the past 20 years.

Paluch, who still remains BG’s top scoring defenseman of all time, joined the program a year after it reached national prominence in Lake Placid by defeating Minnesota-Duluth for the 1984 Frozen Four title.

Just as Paluch was beginning his coaching career with BG as an assistant, along came Todd Reirden in 1990. A tall defenseman and center out of Illinois who was originally a walk-on for Jerry York, Reirden would go on to play 13 seasons in the NHL before retiring professionally this past summer.

‘I don’t think it could be a much better fit for me,’ said Reirden.

Three years passed after Reirden’s departure before Doug Schueller would enroll at BG in 1997. In Schueller’s first three seasons as a player, the Falcons hung near the bottom of the CCHA standings.

But in his senior year, with the Minnesota native serving his second season as team captain, Schueller and the Falcons made a playoff run to the 2001 CCHA semifinals at Joe Louis Arena.

That was the last time BG made it to the Joe.

Tyler Masters brought an impressive resum’eacute; to the bench this season as well. The former goalie, who won the team’s MVP award in 2001, still ranks second in games played, saves and goals-against average on the Falcons’ career list.

‘We all have different things to offer as coaches to the Falcon hockey program,’ said Schueller. ‘There’s no overlap because we never played together, so there’s quite a bit of years of Bowling Green history between us.’

‘We were all here, so there’s no need to explain what our program is all about because all of us have lived it and gone through it,’ said Paluch.

Though still developing as a full staff since this is Reirden’s first year and Schueller’s second, Paluch has felt the cohesiveness already coming together.

‘It’s like chemistry on a line or anything else,’ Paluch said. ‘There’s so much time spent together that you adapt quickly and you learn the different strengths of every guy to try to get the most out of them.’

Each assistant coach definitely does have his own strengths, which are already evident in this year’s team.

Schueller spent two seasons with the Sioux Falls Stampede junior team in the United States Hockey League.

One of the results of that stint was Schueller’s strong recruiting influence with this year’s freshman class.

David Solway, Dan Sexton and Patrick Tiesling, all former Sioux Falls players, have combined for 37 points this season with the Falcons.

Once players like the three mentioned above enter the program, Masters and Reirden have a wealth of knowledge and experience to offer them.

‘We’ve made some strides this year, and a big part of that is the freshman core, including Nick Eno,’ Schueller said. ‘That, of course, goes back to Ty. His ability to work with the goaltenders on a daily basis, even to just give them someone to talk to, makes it a lot easier for them to succeed.’

Schueller could not stress enough the importance that Todd Reirden has had on the program’s turnaround this season.

‘Todd’s experience in the NHL-the extreme high level of professional hockey-just commands respect and the guys really take what he says very seriously,’ said Schueller.

The immediate success that the four have brought back to the program this year will certainly serve as a recruiting tool in the near future.

‘For me, when I go out to recruit, I think the players can feel the passion I have for Bowling Green hockey, and it’s something you can’t fake,’ said Reirden.

Just as BG gave to Todd Reirden and the other three men on the bench this season, each are now finding ways to help carry on the school’s tradition.

‘Coaching is a great way to give back, and I’ve absolutely loved working with the players,’ said Reirden. ‘This place allowed me to play professional hockey for 13 years. I never would have accomplished that if I didn’t come to Bowling Green.’

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