Des Moines Buccaneers Season Preview

With the upcoming USHL season, The Des Moines Buccaneers wish to sweep the memory of a not so good 2011-12 campaign under the rug. Last season, the team fired their head coach with seven games remaining, ended the season with a 14-game losing streak and a 7th place finish in the Western Conference plus missed the playoffs for a fifth consecutive season. However, this year there’s optimism for a much better scenario as new head coach and general manager Jon Rogger takes over. Rogger, just four months removed from winning the Clark Cup with the Green Bay Gamblers as an assistant coach, brings his hard work ethic and a tried and true system to a young Bucs team.

Here’s Rogger’s breakdown on the upcoming 2012-13 Des Moines Buccaneers season.

Strengths/weaknesses

“I think our strengths will be our goaltending and our defensemen. We have a solid goalie (Nick Ellis) who’s committed to Providence already. We’re hoping he’s our No. 1 guy. I told Billy Christopoulos before that he can still earn that spot, but right now he’s coming in as the backup. For defensemen, we got to two Swedish players who’ve been a great surprise for us. We think we’re going to be solid on D. The weakness will be … I think we may struggle a little bit to score some goals. We’re going to have to work hard and battle for every goal that we get this year.”

Goaltending

“I’d say Nick Ellis is an 8.5 to 9, and Billy is probably a 7.5 to 8. They’re going to be fine in this league, it’s just a matter of they’re rookies, they’re nervous, they’ve got to get games under the belts. Our success is going to come on how quickly they adapt to this league. If they pick it up in the first eight games, we’re going to do well. If it takes them 20 games, it might be a different story.”

Defense

“To play strong and hard in front of the net. We want to keep the goals against down to two or below. That’s what we’ve done in Green Bay and that’s what I’m hoping to bring here. If you do that, you’re going to win a lot of hockey games.”

Offense

“On offense, We’ve got a couple of (snipers) in Zach Saar, Luke Voltin and Trent Samuels-Thomas. You need a good three together. Those guys are going to have to work for their goals. I don’t see them having a problem scoring, but they need some help as well. We’re just going to be a tough team to play against and we’ll fight for every goal.”

Special teams

“Our penalty kill, we’ve got a few kids who can just absolutely flat out fly. We’re going to be very aggressive on the PK. On the power play, something that I like to do is have everybody moving, nobody standing around. Get the defensive guys to figure out if they can create some offense, then go for it. We’re going to be very aggressive this year.”

Coaching

“It’s a slow process, but day by day it’s getting the guys to believe in what we can do. I’ve been around the league long enough and I know what it takes to win. At the end of the day, like I told the guys already, ‘Believe in what we’re telling you and we’re going to win a lot of games.’ You can’t just drill it into their heads, but everyday you go over that and good things will come.”

Outlook

“I’m excited, honestly. For the first time in four years I’m not sure where we stack up. I think we’re going to do pretty well this year.”

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