Bern did it again… just like in 2013-14, the Bears went from Champions to disappointment of the season as they missed the playoffs. This fact was almost unthinkable back on September.
Let’s face it, Bern never really woke up this season. They got off to a pretty decent start as they won the first two games against Rapperswil and Ambrì-Piotta. It seemed like the beginning of a quiet and normal season, even though already the performance delivered in the season opener against Rappi made it clear that Kari Jalonen’s troops weren’t very focused. Probably no one, however, paid attention to that. And probably no one even though, after the following 5-games losing streak, that Bern wouldn’t bounce back.
Somehow, paradoxically you could think that losing 5 of the first 7 games of the season could be a godsend in terms of “hunger” for this team that was coming off the Swiss title won against Zug only few months before. And instead, with hindsight, that beginning of the season left his mark. The Bears showed some sign of life at times, but it was only always a flash in the pan. In such cases, when things start to go wrong, they tend to go even worse… The players start to lose confidence and the lack of confidence turns into frustration that prevents you from earning positive results with continuity.
At some point, the club even decided to change coach. Kari Jalonen out, Hans Kossmann in. Perhaps hoping that the Canadian coach could repeat the happy ending story wrote in Zürich two years ago. At that point, however, it was already too late.
Under Hans Kossmann the team reacted, right. Bern brought in some emotions again. But it wasn’t still enough to make the playoffs. And then, the question arises: was Kari Jalonen so good to “hide” the problems over the last two seasons? Maybe. Two things are certain though. The first one: in Bern it’s time to change strategy. The second one: the winning mindset gained over the years will allow this team, this club, to bounce back. Just like after the 2013-14, when the Bears won the titles 3 times in 5 years!
WHAT DID WORK
The short Hans Kossmann era
Bern missed the playoffs and all in all the record was negative also under Hans Kossmann. However, under the Canadian former ZSC Lions coach, the Bears earned 1.50 points per game on average. That was enough to make the playoffs. Mind you, nothing like a showstopper or anything like that. The reaction was there though, and the points average moved from 1.3 to 1.5.
Bern had the 3rd best penalty killing efficiency of the National League, only Genève Servette and Ambrì-Piotta had it higher. Of course, it’s not enough to be solid penalty killers in order to earn positive results… yet, in this disappointing season it’s fair to say that the Bears were good penalty killers at least.
The PostFinance Arena wasn’t certainly a fortress contrary to what often it was in the past. In the context of such a disappointing campaign, however, the Bears earned 1.72 points on average at home. Again, nothing spectacular… but Bern had the 6th best home record of the league.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
Inability to make the difference at the key moments
Both during single games and over-the-arc of the regular season, Bern couldn’t make the difference at the key moments. Above all, the Bears had several chances to turn things around (all failed) and even two golden opportunities to make the playoffs… in Davos on February 25th and in Lausanne at the last regular season game. In both cases, Bern lost. That is what you can call a “capital” sin.
Lack of emotions
Especially under Kari Jalonen Bern didn’t bring in enough emotions. Nothing new, after all. When things go south and the players lack of self-confidence, however, more emotions can help to make the difference. Certainly, the commitment was there but way too often the Bears played an emotionless hockey… that may be working when results are positive, otherwise it’s a huge problem.
Bern wasn’t good enough during power-play opportunities especially considering the potential of the team. The lack of self-confidence, due to the lack of results, turned into a very low scoring percentage and into a very low power-play efficiency. The Bears paid a high price for these two problems.
THE THREE STARS
Among many negative things… there was also something positive. First of all, in our opinion Niklas Schlegel wasn’t the main problem of Bern, even though it was obviously very difficult to replace a goalie like Leonardo Genoni. Tomi Karhunen, however, turned out to be an excellent goalie and delivered several outstanding performances. He even finished the regular season with the highest saving percentage among the number-one goalies. Not for nothing, the Bears extended his contract.
Mark Arcobello certainly didn’t have the best season of his career… yet, he’s always a guarantee and someone you can count on. He finished the season as the Top Scorer of the team and nevertheless always did his job. He will leave the club and join Lugano after 4 seasons. Bern will miss him.
Tristan Scherwey was one of the few players who brought in some emotions. Moreover, he broke his record of goals scored on average per game during a regular season. He missed the first few games when he was in North America… but when he came back, he always tried to make the difference. He’s a key player. Of course, he also could do better… but in our opinion, he did a good work.
Ramon Untersander had missed basically the whole 2018-19 regular season… and it was a pleasure to see him back this season. Ramon could do better as well, of course. The important thing for Bern, however, was to have him back in good form. Perhaps Ramon wasn’t rock solid defensively, but he contributed a lot in the offensive zone. We expect further improvements next season but for now you can say that he is back. That’s not nothing.
Goals For – Goals Against
Goals For – Goals Against even strength
Bern had only the 7th scoring record and even the 9th defensive record of the league. This proves that the team didn’t do well both in terms of individual and team play. Slightly better, on the other hand, was the play at even strength… but considering the potential, the team could do better.
Goals For – Goals Against each 10’
We love to say that the latest stages of the central period are key moments of the games. In fact, if you go to the second break self-confident you start the last and decisive period “on fire”. The Bears were catastrophic between the half-an-hour mark and the second break… got the picture?
Leading, tied, trailing
Bern spent a lot of time tied… but then didn’t make the difference. To note, in a negative way, that the Bears were leading only 28.53% of the time. In this regard, only Fribourg Gottéron, Rapperswil and Langnau did worse.
Scoring percentage – Saving percentage
Considering the offensive potential, Bern had a very low scoring percentage (only the 8th one of the League). The saving percentage instead, was decent… and Tomi Karhunen even had the highest saving percentage among the number-one goalies of the league (92.53%)!
Power-play – Penalty-killing
Here, in numbers, what we said before about power-play and penalty-killing. Bern had the 9th PP efficiency of the league but were the 3rd best penalty killers.
THE SEASON IN ONE QUOTE
From top to flop, it’s as simple as that.
Bern went from Swiss Champion to the playout. With the real risk, considering the lack of self-confidence, of being forced to play the playout – allegedly against Rapperswil – in the case the playout had took place. This season, anyway, surely taught the club and the team a lot. You can’t just ever – but ever – take anything for granted in the National League. When it comes to the 2019-20 season, Bern moved from top to flop. It’s as simple as that.