Ron Fogarty has proven that he can build a college hockey program from scratch.
Starting the men’s hockey team at Adrian College in Michigan seven years ago, Fogarty experienced instant success, guiding the Bulldogs to a 26-3 record during their inaugural campaign in 2007-08.
During his tenure at Adrian, Fogarty compiled a 167-23-10 record as the Bulldogs made four appearances in the NCAA Division III tournament, advancing to the championship game in 2010-11 where they lost 4-3 to St. Norbert.
Now Fogarty is getting the chance to prove he can rebuild a proud but struggling program, getting named last week as the new head coach of the Princeton University men’s hockey program, which posted an overall 6-26 record last winter as it sank to the cellar of ECAC Hockey.
True to character, Fogarty, a former standout player at Colgate in the mid-1990s, is hitting the ground running as he takes the helm of the Tigers.
“I am so excited to be here at Princeton; this opportunity doesn’t come up much in someone’s life,” said Fogarty, 42, at his introductory press conference on June 17.
“I can’t wait to call the current players and incoming freshmen today. I am looking forward to seeing what their goals are individually and what their team-oriented goals are for the upcoming season. I want them to have full ownership in the team. This is their team, it is not my team. It is the Princeton’s community, our alumni, our staff, administrators, faculty, and fan base; it is our team.”
Fogarty is unfazed about making the jump to coaching at the Division I level as he replaces Bob Prier, who resigned this spring after three years at Princeton where he compiled an overall record of 25-58-12.
“It is not a challenge, it is the same thing with hockey; I think there are three things that you have to have regardless of what level you are being a coach,” said the amiable and earnest Fogarty, citing trust, enthusiasm, and ownership as those bedrock qualities.
“You can win everywhere and anywhere. I think you just have to treat people the right way and get the most out of them.”
Fogarty’s squads at Adrian played offense at a high level, leading D-III teams in scoring four times.
“I am a puck possession coach,” explained Fogarty, who served as an assistant coach at Colgate, Clarkson, and Bowling Green before coming to Adrian.
“I want to keep the puck, I want to control the middle of the ice and outnumber them in the defensive zone but also allow the forwards and defensemen to join the play and create. At the end of the day, you want to score one more goal than the opponent and our mission is to score one more goal than the opponent. I want the guys to play freely and come back to the bench, to tell what they see during the game. The style of play is going to be predicated on the practices and what is coming into the program and then we’ll go from there.”
Fogarty’s experience in the ECACH as a player and assistant coach will come in handy as he takes the reins at Princeton.
“It helps me greatly, I am familiar with the arenas and I am very familiar with the other coaches in the conference and their styles,” said Fogarty, a native of Sarnia, Ontario who scored 141 points in his playing career at Colgate, ranking 20th on the program’s all-time scoring list at the time of his graduation in 1995.
“I follow college hockey at the D-1 level albeit I am in Adrian, Michigan but I am a hockey fanatic. I appreciate the coaches, I am going to have to prepare smarter, harder, and longer because it is a great fraternity of coaches in the ECAC, look at the two past national champions (ECACH members Union and Yale). A lot has changed since I left the ECAC, it has become a stronger conference in terms of the hockey product. I am eagerly looking forward to the challenge.”
Incoming Princeton Director of Athletics Mollie Marcoux believes that Fogarty is up to the challenge.
“Ron knows how to build a winning program,” said Marcoux in her introductory remarks at the press conference.
“He knows the value of teamwork and working hard toward individual and team improvement everyday. He values the overall student-athlete experience and the role coaches play in helping athletes achieve their goals. We are confident that those qualities coupled with his tremendous hockey knowledge will allow him to bring greatness back to Baker Rink. Under Ron’s leadership and with the very talented student athletes that we have in our program, we are confident that Princeton will consistently compete for Ivy, ECAC, and national titles and will be a team that is admired and respected by all.”
Fogarty, for his part, is confident that Princeton can be great on and off the ice under his stewardship.
“It is a work in progress and it starts after I leave here to start calling those incoming freshmen and returning players to see what their goals are and how collectively we are going to get there,” said Fogarty, noting that he is considering retaining one of the two current Tiger assistant coaches, Scott Garrow or Greg Gardner, to aid continuity.
“We will win and we will be successful in the classroom. We’ll be ambassadors on and off the ice in the community and we will have relentless competitors on the ice.”