Alabama Head Hockey Coach Discusses Program’s First D-I All-American
On Wednesday, Alabama hockey held a press conference in the Bryant Museum to celebrate Alabama's first Division-I All-American, Pierre Oullette. Oullette was also named one of the top six defensemen in the country by the ACHA.
Head Coach John Bierchen joined The Gary Harris Show discussing the bright future ahead for the program. Although the team receives no financial aid for scholarships, Bierchen continues to successfully recruit talented players.
"It really is worth the extra money to come here," Bierchen told Gary Harris. "I think that we have done a really good job at educating potential student athletes on what the academic success means for the rest of your life."
Bierchen played goalie for Alabama during the 2011-2012 season, which was one of the most successful seasons in the team's history. They won just over twenty matches for the second year in a row, while bringing home the first and only SECHC championship. Bierchen was named MVP of that tournament.
"I would like to make this a forever stop. I think it is a great place to be."
Bierchen has made an incredible effort to develop the program and gain national recognition. He's done that by introducing hockey players to the idea of playing at the University of Alabama to develop their athletic career and by specifically scouting and contacting players who previously had played NCAA Division-III hockey or junior professional hockey.
Recruiting players from across the nation and into Canada, the program has landed Ouellette, Jeremy Hannah, Taylor Joseph, and Chris Skeates from Canada.
"On the ice development, I believe we have done a pretty good job at mimicking a professional minor league team. In terms of player development, practice and the way we structure our practices, the way we structure our in game strategy, and managing players."
With the long term goal of guiding the Alabama hockey program from ACHA Division-I to NCAA Division-I, Bierchen has taken great first strides by recruiting at a high level, placing emphasis on closer team bonds, and influencing his players to carry themselves with integrity and pride.
Bierchen is a self-motivated, passion-driven individual who has the perfect head coaching mentality because of his infectious drive.
"I think we are working hard to make this a long-term venture. The more the community and fans get involved to solidify the future of Alabama hockey, that only solidifies my future. I would love to be here the next 55 to 60 years and to never leave Tuscaloosa and to retire here."
You can listen to the full interview in the video below. You can also listen to the full press conference by visiting the Alabama Hockey Facebook page. As always you can tune into The Gary Harris Show weekdays from 9-11 a.m.