Bobcat hockey is back.
After not fielding a team for the current 2018-19 season, there will be a Bowling Green High School
hockey team next fall.
Jamie Ruffner, a 1989 BGHS graduate who played two years on the varsity as a center forward, is the new
head coach. His senior year, the Bobcats lost in overtime in a state semifinal game.
He replaces Eddie Powers, who was the head coach for two years after serving as an assistant coach for 27
During Tuesday’s board of education meeting, Ruffner’s hiring was approved.
“We’re excited,” said high school Principal Jeff Dever when introducing Ruffner. “Jamie has excellent
reviews from anyone who has ever worked or played with him. His passion is hockey, especially Bobcat
Ruffner has coached different youth hockey age groups for 21 years in Bowling Green.
“It’s all really interesting on how all this has taken shape,” Ruffner said. “I have wanted this position
for probably the last 18 years.
“I kind of look back and see that it has come full circle,” he continued. “It’s a program that I have
always been proud of. I think it’s exciting that another Bowling Green alum gets to come back and try to
revamp this program.”
Dirk Conner, BG’s athletic director, said there were several factors about Ruffner that stood out during
“Jamie has a wealth of coaching experience and has put a lot of time into bettering himself as a coach as
evidenced by his level 5 master certification through USA Hockey,” Conner said. “My favorite traits
about Jamie were his organization, his passion for not just hockey but specifically Bobcat hockey.
“In talking with former players and people who had interacted with Jamie in the hockey world, everyone
shared how much they enjoyed their experience with him,” he continued. “I would also consider it a bonus
that he is a Bobcat hockey alum and well tied into that community.
“We weren’t necessarily searching for someone with former ties to the program, but it’s certainly a
positive as we move forward.”
Ruffner is well aware of the heritage of the hockey program and he hopes to hang another championship
banner on the wall.
Bowling Green has won six state championships and been runner-up six times. Its last state title came in
1999, ending a run of three straight championships.
The Bobcats were in the state tournament every year from 1991-2004 except 1994. They won four state
championships in that span and came in second four times.
“There is no doubt about it, we will take our lumps and bruises in the first year or two,” Ruffner said.
“However, our kids will learn, we will get better. We will become better hockey players. We will become
better people and I think that will turn into something special two or three years down the road. We do
realize it will be a process to be at that level where we can be competitive.
“The thing that makes this work is the community,” he continued. “We really want to bring the community
back to it. … Bringing back people to the program that helped to make it what it is is extremely
important. We want to get the brand back.”
There was no team this season as only eight players had fully committed to playing.
“Right now, looking at this program, how it sets up, we have between 15 and 18 (players) available.
That’s if everything goes perfectly,” Ruffner said for both the 2019-20 season. “Of those 15 to 18, I
would say 13 or 14 are freshmen and sophomores.
“We will be extremely young to start with,” he continued. “We are looking at this as a two- or three-year
work in progress. In two or three years we will have a lot of upperclassmen and we will have much
younger kids coming into the program. We will always be freshman and sophomore heavy.”
Ruffner is convinced that there are enough players in the youth hockey program to be able to field a team
on a consistent basis.
“Our base in youth hockey is very good and is as strong as it has ever been,” Ruffner said. “I think
having lost a year everybody realizes how important high school hockey is in Bowling Green.
“I would think moving forward and seeing the numbers we should be OK with players starting to feed into
With a bigger player pool, Ruffner hopes to field varsity and junior varsity teams, which will help build
“You have the right coaches and everyone is running the same system that you really put yourself in a
good situation,” he said.
Ruffner is putting together a coaching staff which will be composed of former Bobcat players.
Bobcat hockey is back.