TOLEDO, OH (WTOL) - The first year as head coach of the Walleye saw a lot of success for Dan Watson.
Toledo finished with a program record 51 wins, they lead the league in four statistical categories; goals, goals against, power play and penalty kill and, they made it to the second round of playoffs.
And with enduring the long grind of an extended season, Watson says he feels better prepared heading into year two at the helm.
"Last year I know I was prepared, this year I'm even more so, and now I just know what to expect through 72 games," Watson said. "There's a lot of obstacles they have to hurdle to get over a full season, and now I think I am prepared a little bit more for that as well as Andy Delmore is too."
And those lessons learned are a main reason why you'll be seeing a lot of new faces on the ice.
"It's that long, long season, you want to make sure you're peaking at the right time and playing your best hockey once April rolls around," Watson said. "We went a little bit bigger, a little bit heavier to sustain some of that. You know, the energy our guys brought last year was phenomenal, I just think the grind wore us down, especially playing bigger teams like Colorado, Kalamazoo wore us down a bit, so we're built differently and hopefully it's a recipe for success."
For some of the veteran players, they recognize the potential these new additions bring.
"I think he saw a lot of things first-hand last year throughout the playoffs that, you know, he thought we could work on, and he adjusted the roster as such," said Shane Berschbach, Walleye forward. "I think he built a stronger team, so I think it'll help us down the road."
"I think with all the success we had last year and ultimately coming up short, we saw a lot of things we did really well and we saw some things we could improve upon, and I think they took that and ran with it," said A.J. Jenks, Walleye forward. "In our offseason I think they made a lot of good additions, and we'll see how it stacks up here in a few months."
The Walleye have their home opener Saturday against Quad City.