When it comes to Fribourg Gottéron you could always write a book. A book made of joys and sorrows, ça va sans dire. The 2019-20 season was no exception in this regard. The Dragons had high expectations on the eve of this season, as usual. And they proved to be capable of everything and it’s opposite, as usual.
Let’s start with raw numbers. Gottéron earned 0.33 points on average during the first 6 games and that cost Mark French the job. Then, the team earned 1.61 points on average during the following 44 games. A points average that would have been enough to finish the season 5th placed for the team coached by Christian Dubé assisted by Pavel Rosa and with Sean Simpson as consultant.
And to say that so many people mocked the Dragons when they decided to put the SD on the bench. On that occasion, Christian Dubé proved that he has – if you permit us to use the term – balls. He put himself in the game just to prove everybody wrong. Under his leadership, the Dragons weren’t maybe always spectacular but put an outstanding attitude on display that, in fact, was enough to make the fans proud of the team.
Finally, Gottéron made the playoffs – then cancelled because of coronavirus – thanks to an impressive comeback and thanks to a “never give up attitude” that at time was incredible.
Not everything went well during the 2019-20 season. Actually, it is rare, if not impossible, that everything goes well on the shores of the Sarine. However, we think that it was a satisfactory season. Fribourg came back to the top 8 after a “season of break”. In this case too, nothing new. The Dragons in fact, after the 2013-14 season finished as runners up, have been always alternating a qualification to the playoffs and a participation to the playout.
After all, we’re talking about a team, a club, that with all due respect can be defined “schizophrenic”. But how could you not love the Dragons? If they didn’t exist, you’d have to invent them 🙂
WHAT DID WORK
We think it’s safe to say that Fribourg Gottéron finished the 2019-20 season in the top 8 mostly thanks to a fighting spirit and an attitude that almost always made them a tough nut to crack. Christian Dubé’s guys always fought hard and regardless of the level of their performances proved to be a tight-knit group prepared to do anything in order to achieve the goal.
Fribourg Gottéron finished the season with the 5th best defensive record of the National League and conceded more than 4 goals in a single game only 5 times. We mean, the team was quite solid, also during PK situations, and when it comes to defense we obviously include also the contribution of Reto Berra who was literally outstanding at times.
Consistency (under Christian Dubé)
Let’s face it, usually you can’t use in the words: “consistency” and “Fribourg Gottéron” in the same sentence. And instead this season, with Christian Dubé, the Dragons were quite consistent. If we take the 44 games with the SD on the bench into consideration, Gottéron lost 3 consecutive games only once (during the second half of October). That’s not bad for a team that way too often in the past lacked consistency.
WHAT DIDN’T WORK
The BCF Arena is likely to become the nicest arena in Switzerland and the hope, for the Dragons, is also that it will become a fortress. When it comes to the 2019-20 season instead, the BCF Arena was everything except a fortress… Fribourg Gottéron finished the season with the 9th home record of the league. 41 points in 25 games is not good enough for a team with such a passionate crowd like Fribourg.
Faceoffs are a pivotal play in ice hockey. A good faceoff efficiency in fact, prevents you from wasting energies only to recover the puck possession. In this regard though, the Dragons darn struggled this season… and in fact, they had the worst faceoff efficiency of the league (46.15%). Among the players that took faceoffs regularly, only David Desharnais (50.53%) was decent. That’s not good enough.
Fribourg Gottéron finished the season with the third worst scoring percentage of the National League. Only Ambrì-Piotta and Langnau had a worst scoring percentage this year. Way too often, the Dragons couldn’t turn the hard work into goals, and this prevented them from earning more points in the end.
THE THREE STARS
Reto Berra is probably the National League MVP of the 2019-20 National League. And especially during the second part of the season he was outstanding. Reto was literally capable of “stealing” few games and mostly he was able to make the difference at the key moments, just like only top-class players can do. The Dragons can rest assured as they have a real wall between the pipes… and they will have it until the end of the 2023-24 season.
Ryan Gunderson had earned the nickname “Mr. Perfect” in Sweden and we immediately understood why. Ryan finished the regular season as the third best defenseman in terms of points scored (35 points in 50 games) and he was the only defenseman who finished the season as the Top Scorer of a team. Let us not forget, moreover, that he was very consistent. He’s certainly among the best defensemen around.
It’s a pity that the playoffs were cancelled because of the coronavirus… because we’d have some fun watching Daniel Brodin in the post-season. In fact, we’re sure that Daniel would have turned out to be a real playoffs animal. He is a real leader on ice and when it comes to fighting spirit, he is second to no one. Moreover, he’s also a forward that can make the difference at the key moments. He’s one of those players that becomes a fans favourite and a public enemy number one for the opponents. In Fribourg they can enjoy him at least for two more seasons.
Christian Dubé (Coach)
As we said already, many people mocked the club when Christian Dubé was appointed the new coach. Many people, however, surely changed their minds. Christian Dubé put himself on the line and the players followed him. He was at his first experience as a coach. He changed things around and his team made an impressive comeback. In our opinion, Christian Dubé deserves the virtual award of “man of the year”.
Goals For – Goals Against
Goals For – Goals Against even strength
We talked already about the fact that Fribourg Gottéron struggled to score but was quite solid. These numbers confirm what we said. To note that there is room for improvement when it comes to even strength play.
Goals For – Goals Against each 10’
This chart seems to suggest that Fribourg Gottéron was in a good physical form and that had some real character. This is proved by the fact that the Dragons scored a lot during the last 10 minutes of play. On the other hand, it’s to understand why they darn struggled during the latest stages of the central period and during the early stages of the last third.
Leading, tied, trailing
Fribourg Gottéron was leading only 27.8% of the time. That’s not good enough. Only Rapperswil and Langnau were leading for less time. Considering the results, this data proves once again that the team had some real character… but the data also proves that the Dragons were not often in control of the game.
Scoring percentage – Saving percentage
We mentioned already that Fribourg Gottéron struggled to put the puck in the net and that could count on a real wall between the pipes. These figures confirm what we said. It’s as simple as that.
Power-play – Penalty-killing
The Dragons were decent during PP situations and quite decent penalty killers. They could be even better… but PP and PK weren’t a problem. Consistency was missing in this regard though.
THE SEASON IN ONE QUOTE
From mocked… to respected!
Fribourg Gottéron got off to a terrible start of the season and that cost Mark French the job. Then, the Dragons were mocked as they decided to finish the season with Christian Dubé – assisted by Pavel Rosa and with Sean Simpson as consultant – as the head coach. Finally, though, Gottérom went from “mocked” to “respected” thanks to the hard work. It was a strange season all in all, during which Fribourg Gottéron was nevertheless able to make the fans proud mostly because of the attitude put on display. We’re pretty sure that the Dragons would have been a tough nut to crack for Zug during the post-season.