When a team wins an NCAA title like the Union hockey team did last season, there would appear to be no glaring weaknesses.
But there was one aspect of the Dutchmen’s game that head coach Rick Bennett didn’t like. He saw a weakness in the team’s ability to win faceoffs. Bennett hopes the newest member of his coaching staff will help improve that area.
Aaron Bogosian, who was a forward for St. Lawrence from 2007 to 2011, is the Dutchmen’s new volunteer assistant coach. He replaces John Ronan.
“I feel [Bogosian] is going to be a tremendous asset with our centermen,” Bennett said. “He was a very good faceoff guy at St. Lawrence.”
The Dutchmen’s faceoff numbers weren’t impressive. In 42 games, they had a better faceoff percentage than their opponents only 10 times. They were beaten 29 times, and three games were even.
In the Frozen Four, Union lost 42 of 63 faceoffs to Boston College in the semifinal. The Dutchmen were a little better against Minnesota in the championship game, winning 43 of 89 draws.
Mike Vecchione was the only Dutchmen center to win over 50 percent of the draws, winning 53.3 percent (344-for-645).
“That’s something that needs to be addressed,” Bennett said. “I felt that John and [assistant coach] Joe Dumais did an excellent job throughout the year. I thought it got better. But it is definitely an area of concern going into this year.”
Bogosian has seen the numbers, and he believes he can help.
“I had a lot of experience doing it,” Bogosian said. “It’s something I really took pride in. I think it’s a huge part of the game. If you can add that to your toolbox, it can bring you more opportunities. I’m just going to tell them what I’ve learned. I’ve gotten the chance to work with some pretty good faceoff guys throughout my pro career. They taught me a lot.
“I’m going to try and help out as much as I can because it’s a huge thing that’s overlooked. If your team is winning a lot of faceoffs, you’re starting off with the puck. You’re not chasing.”
Bogosian played in 142 games at St. Lawrence, compiling 33 goals and 46 assists. His best season was in 2010-11, when he had 14 goals and 14 assists. He just completed a four-year minor pro career that saw him play in the AHL and ECHL.
“He was really tough to play against,” Bennett said. “Talking to some of our guys that have played against him, he was not the easiest guy to play against. I feel he embodies Union College hockey with that.”