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Welcome To Our August Newsletter



portraitSuitcoat100Welcome to this month’s newsletter.

We hope that your summer training is going well, and that things are fitting into place nicely as you head back to school…. , Fall Hockey Camps…., and season openers.

We have put together a few articles that we hope that you will enjoy. We think there are very important messages in all of them. Remember, “it is the things that you do not know, that you do not know….” that will cause the greatest griefs moving forward.

If you ever think we can help provide advice, help negotiate CHL major junior and/or other Junior contracts, help promote players to various school and/or hockey programs, please do not hesitate to contact us at your convenience through email by clicking here.

See you in the rink,


David MacDonald, SPAD
Hockey Family Advisor

PS. We are still aware of a few Prep Scuool Programs who might be looking….. if it interest you, drop us a line.





Posted in Newsletter

You gotta have heart: Defining hockey’s intangibles

“You can’t mark (an intangible) on a grade of 1-to-10 with any accuracy,” analyst Ray Ferraro says. “It’s all subjective.”

By Sean Fitz-Gerald

With three Stanley Cups and two Olympic gold medals in the last six years, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews is considered one of hockey's best leaders. 

(Bill Smith / NHLI via GETTY IMAGES)


John Scott knows you are probably not going to use him on your power play, or give him ice time on the penalty kill, or require him to score goals: “I don’t bring much skill to the table; I don’t bring much in the way of special teams.”

At six-foot-eight and 260 pounds, the Arizona Coyotes winger has one notable skill — firing his fists across an opponent’s face like pistons — that can be reflected in a game summary. He has other skills, he says, but they are not readily apparent to those who monitor statistics.

“When I go to a team,” Scott says, “my job is to be a leader, kind of guide the little guys and show them the right way to do things.”

Some of his value to a team, then, would be intangible.

Hockey has developed a rich lexicon of so-called intangibles. Players can have grit, heart and vision. They might have good hockey sense, show good character, or be respected as a dressing room leader. A celebrated few might be known for how they perform on a big stage, knighted with the designation of being “clutch.”

“To me, an intangible is something that can’t be quantified,” says TSN hockey analyst Ray Ferraro. “You can’t touch it, you can’t feel it, you can’t mark it on a grade of 1-to-10 with any accuracy — it’s all subjective.”

As such, it can also be difficult to define. Like hockey’s vast unwritten rulebook — known widely as The Code — the meaning behind certain intangible skills can vary depending on the speaker. What is grit, anyway? And is it even possible for a player to be clutch?

In the name of clarity and the public good, Toronto Star sports reporter Sean Fitz-Gerald surveys hockey people, from managers to scouts and former players, from the NHL down to junior, in an attempt to nail down some of the game’s most inscrutable terms.


Active prototype: Chris Kelly, Boston Bruins

A player deemed to have grit is often described as gritty, though not as the word might be defined in the dictionary, where a gritty player might be one dusted with bits of sand, or guided by pluck. “To me, that means there’s a loose puck, and they work like crazy to try and get it back,” says Ferraro, who cites Kelly, the hard-working fourth-liner, as one example. “And if they fall down, they get right back up and try it again.”

Grit, then, is perhaps just another word for effort.

“It’s being tough, being hard to play against,” says Natalie Spooner, a forward who won gold with the Canadian women’s team at the Sochi Olympics.

“Grit is a guy, when it is a tough game and he is a targeted guy, he forges forward,” says Larry Robinson, the director of player development with the San Jose Sharks.

Dan Marr, director of NHL Central Scouting, suggests the meaning has evolved. Today, when someone is discussing what might earlier have been known as grit, they instead use edge: “They play within the rules, but they just have physicality with their game.”

“Grit used to be more obvious in a game in a physical way,” says Warren Rychel, general manager of the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires. “Now, grit’s got a lot to do with the mental toughness side of the game, the willingness to block a shot.”


Active prototype: Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

In hockey, having vision does not necessarily relate to exceptional eyesight. Good vision on the ice implies a player has an elevated analytical awareness. “It’s almost like card-counting in their head,” says Kyle Raftis, general manager of the OHL’s Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds.

“They have the ability to see plays before they happen,” says Sportsnet analyst Cassie Campbell-Pascall. “They put passes to space, sometimes, rather than tape-to-tape.”

“When Wayne Gretzky played the game, it was like when I sat in the press box,” Ferraro says. Up in the rafters, with the ice far down below, passing lanes appear with the clarity of a Las Vegas billboard. A player with vision can see that even when they are down on the ice.

“When I went down on the ice, I saw a bunch of 200-pounders in the way,” says Ferraro, who was an NHL forward for 18 seasons. “It was really crowded.”

Having vision is one way a player such as McDavid, the 18-year-old centre selected first overall in the NHL draft last spring, can create the optical illusion of having the puck follow him around the ice. “It’s not exactly like he’s lucky night in and night out,” says Raftis. “He sees the play develop.”

“That’s not coachable, one bit, in my opinion,” Ferraro says. “You got it, or you don’t.”


Active prototype: Jarome Iginla, Colorado Avalanche

Character might be the intangible quality that most aligns with the dictionary definition, though one layered with meaning from hockey’s culture. A player with character is said to have a certain moral quality, even in the face of adversity.

“Character is that you don’t become selfish, and that is really hard in a sport where your individual contributions keep you in the team sport,” says Ferraro. “I’d like to say that I had impeccable character, but I didn’t. Because I knew if I didn’t score, I was in trouble.”

Marr, the NHL scout, says character also suggests a player has “trust and responsibility” from a coach. A player with character, he says, can be trusted to understand the situation in a game, such as when not to gamble for a goal when protecting a lead is the priority.

“People with high character are guys that you just want to be around — men or women you work with, people you can tell do things the right way,” says Raftis.

In an era of advanced statistical analysis, though, the value of having players of character on the team has become a point of debate. As Raftis says: “Character only gets brought out when things are poor.”


Active prototype: Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

On March 19, 1944, the term made its debut in The New York Times, in a story heralding Toronto Maple Leafs forward Gus Bodnar as the NHL’s rookie of the year. According to the story, Bodnar’s hockey sense meant he had “the ability to make the right play at the proper time.”

“A lot of people in the scouting side will equate it to vision and anticipation,” Marr says. “It’s the ability to read the play and react to it, and the quickness with which you can do that.”

The game is evolving quickly. Enforcers are fading away. Size and brute strength do not create the same siren song for scouts they might have even a decade ago. “Ten years ago, I used to go out looking for size and skating,” says Rychel, the former NHL forward who now runs the Spitfires. “Now it’s hockey sense and skating.”

“Somebody with good hockey sense can sense what’s going to happen on a certain play,” says Robinson, a Hall of Fame defenceman. “The puck is coming around the boards, a guy with hockey sense will know, ‘the puck is going there, so I’m going here.’”


Active prototype: Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

Jordan Denning is co-founder of The Center for Cognitive Sports Performance, in Portland, Maine, and claims to have developed a system that measures an athlete’s intangibles: “We can finally metricize these things in a day and age in sports where everybody’s crazy about the analytics.”

Assessments are not based in psychology, he says, but rather in self-reporting. The player responds to statements — such as “I raise my voice to win an argument, true or false” — in order to generate a profile. Leadership is among the traits the company attempts to quantify.

“It could be anything from selflessness to cohesion to outward leadership,” Denning says. “So it’s the guy who’s going to be willing to take the critique, take the criticism and get better at it.”

Players who are considered leaders can demonstrate a number of traits, according to long-time player agent Allan Walsh. They could have exceptional eating or training habits, or strong pre-game routines: “The players who do that are known within the room.”

“He’s almost like a coach, in that he can read who he has to kick in the butt, who he has to take out to lunch,” says Robinson. “A leader is a guy who knows when to stand up and kick the Gatorade bottle.”


Active prototype: Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins

Heart can overlap with compete level, and depending on the viewpoint, it is synonymous with grit. “It means ‘no quit,’” says Darcy Regier, assistant general manager of the Arizona Coyotes. “No end to the compete.”

Campbell-Pascall suggests heart can go beyond compete level.

“I think you can be a selfish player and have a great compete level,” she says. “But I think, where compete and heart kind of switch is, for a player to have heart, it’s completely about doing everything for the sake of the team.”

Saying a player has heart conjures images of a blood-stained jersey, a roadmap of bruises and a mouth running low on factory-installed teeth. Bergeron, for example, logged nearly 18 minutes of ice time in a playoff game two years ago despite a broken rib, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung.

“A lot of times, when you’re talking about heart, it’s a guy who maybe doesn’t have as much talent as another player,” says Robinson, “but he will go the extra to make up the difference.”

“He plays every game like it’s his last one,” says Rychel.

“Heart, effort, all that stuff, it all just has to do with wanting to win,” says Scott, the bruising Coyotes winger. “It’s lining up against someone and saying, ‘I’m going to out-compete you, I’m going to beat you tonight.’”


Active prototype: Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks

Hockey is a succession of small battles waged all over the ice, Ferraro says, and compete level refers to a player who fights to win more of those battles than they lose. As Spooner puts it: “You’re winning your battles on the ice and you’re winning your races.”

“Heart and grit and compete level are all part of a triangle,” says Rychel. “When one of those things doesn’t happen, then it doesn’t go right.”

Robinson suggests Dave Andreychuk was a player with admirable compete level, mostly for his work in front of the opposing team’s net. (Andreychuk retired in 2006, at 42, with 640 regular-season goals on his NHL resume.) “He wasn’t the fastest skater in the world, he wasn’t a big tough guy, he didn’t fight,” says Robinson, “but he had that knack of having great compete in front of the net.”

Campbell-Pascall, who won gold with the Canadian Olympic team in 2002, and again in 2006, says young players can sometimes struggle with compete level.

“They’ll compete in the offensive zone when there’s that opportunity to score,” she says, “and they kind of forget to compete through the neutral zone, and in their own zone.”


Active prototype: Marie-Philip Poulin, Canadian women’s team

Here is the issue Raftis, the statistics-minded junior hockey executive, has with the concept of a clutch player: “I don’t think it really exists.”

Clutch players turn into good stories, into heroes. The reality, Raftis says, is that the late-game heroics in the playoffs are often provided by players who were also heroic for that mid-season win in January that everyone has already forgotten about. And the reason they are on the ice in a so-called clutch situation is because they are proven performers.

“Those are elite players, they’re not someone that just got tapped at the end of the bench,” he says. “These are elite, elite people.”

Ferraro, on the other hand, believes in the magical properties of the clutch player: “I don’t know how it is, I don’t get why it is — except that it is.”

“They want to be out there,” says Campbell-Pascall, who immediately points to Poulin, the Canadian hero at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics. “They’re the ones, their butts are half-off the bench, like, ‘Coach, tap me, get me over there.’”

“I don’t necessarily believe it can be scouted,” says Walsh, the veteran player agent. “But once you have it, you recognize it. And getting that element to your team is plain, dumb luck.”


How to Prepare for Hockey Camp

By Pearle Nerenberg 

The problem with summer camps or pre-season tryout hockey camps is that they are usually a shock to your body.  The gruelling on-ice and off-ice sessions will deplete your energy stores often much more than you have been used to.  If your body is not prepared for the shock, you may feel more tired and sore and perform poorly.  Make sure you do the following two things to prepare for hockey camp:

First, prepare your body’s energy stores for camp. One to three days prior to camp eat a carbohydrate-loaded diet.  This means eat more of the carbohydrate foods such as grains, fruit, and dairy.  By carbohydrate loading, you will be sure to have as much energy stored in your muscles as possible for the start of camp.

Second, prepare your meal plan for camp. Often there is not enough time to digest full meals between training sessions.  You will need to choose foods that pass through the stomach quickly. You can also experiment with having a liquid lunch and many small snacks throughout the day.

Red Smoothie

Red Smoothie

If food is not provided, you have a great opportunity to individualize your meal plan and eat foods that are exactly right for you.  To make a plan, start by looking at the camp schedule.  When will you be off ice, when will you be on ice, and when are the times you can eat meals and snacks?

Camps may be the most physically demanding time of the whole season, especially if you are out of shape. To make it through training camp, you will want to find ways to reduce muscle soreness, you will want to eat foods that will give you a lot of energy, and you will want to eat foods that are quick to digest. In your meal plan for camp try including some of these breakfast, lunch, and snack ideas.

Camp breakfast ideas:

  • Oatmeal made with milk, banana, brown sugar, and almonds + Orange juice
  • Pancakes, maple syrup, peanut butter + Apple juice
  • Whole grain cereal or granola, milk + Banana strawberry smoothie

Camp snack ideas:

  • Good locker room snacks: fruit sauces, granola bars, UHT (ultra heat treated) milks, sports drinks
  • Good in-between session snacks: cereal and dried fruit, ½-sized sandwiches, sport bars, low-fat muffins

Chickpea Muffins

Chickpea Muffins

Camp lunch ideas:

  • Sandwiches
    • Choose a bread, a protein like meat or eggs, and a small amount of vegetables.
    • Limit sauces, mayo, and spices as these can slow or upset digestion.
  • Pasta salads
    • Choose a pasta, a protein like cheese or chicken, and a small amount of vegetables.
    • Limit oils, sauces, spices and mayo as these can slow or upset digestion.
  • Liquid lunches
    • Smoothie
    • Puréed soup such as a sweet potato potage + milk

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup

Many camps will provide lunches and snacks.  If this is the case, we still recommend that you bring some snacks to supplement the camp menu for times when you find you did not get enough to eat.  When choosing from a buffet line, here are some things to think about:

  • Check out all your options before choosing your foods and portions so you do not end up selecting something you don’t want or missing something you wanted.
  • Ask questions about the food to the cooks and servers when you are unsure of what is in the food.
  • Ignore the choices the other players are making! Their needs and goals are likely very different from yours.  If one player eats a big dessert at lunch it does not mean you should do the same. It is cooler to look good performing on the ice in front of the coaches than it is to overeat at lunch.
  • During lunch, leave the food area once you are done.  Otherwise, it will be too tempting to go get seconds and overeat before the afternoon session.

At the end of the day, remember to eat and drink well to recover.  You need to replenish your carbohydrate stores by eating carbohydrate-rich foods, and you need to rehydrate. This can easily be accomplished by drinking water every half hour and eating a balanced supper and a snack before bed.



Get the Nutrition Edge in hockey

The Author

Pearle Nerenberg

Pearle Nerenberg

Pearle Nerenberg, MSc., R.D. is Canada’s leading expert on hockey nutrition, and author of the book The Nutrition Edge for Hockey Performance. She co-founded and chairs the Hockey Nutrition Network, an international non-profit organization dedicated to linking hockey players with top sports dietitians who have an expertise in hockey nutrition.

Want to play NCAA hockey? Make sure you know the eligibility rules

Connor Gaarder of Univeristy of North Dakota celebrates a goal at the Frozen Four. (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

Connor Gaarder of Univeristy of North Dakota celebrates a goal at the Frozen Four. (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)


It takes a lot of work to become an NCAA hockey player and because of the organization’s strict rules, sometimes just getting to campus with your eligibility intact can be a challenge. The most recent example is a report from Jeff Cox of SB Nation that goaltender Tyler Johnson has lost his eligibility appeal to the NCAA and will play for the OHL’s London Knights this season instead of the University of Maine.

Now, you could do a lot worse than playing for the defending Memorial Cup champions, but Johnson’s case shines the spotlight on the tricky waters that teens must navigate en route to college hockey.

According to Cox, the snag for Johnson came when he played 11 minutes of an OHL exhibition game. That may sound like small potatoes, but the NCAA is militant when it comes to rules and potential players need to know the facts.

Mike Snee is the executive director of College Hockey Inc., a sort of education/promotional group that informs kids about the NCAA game. The group has an FAQ on its website for eligibility, but here are some of the most important things to know for players who are drawing interest from both NCAA schools and major junior teams. And keep in mind, this does not apply to the USHL or NAHL, two junior leagues that specifically tailor their structure to NCAA eligibility requirements.

Don’t suit up in a game of any kind that involves another CHL team

“You cannot play a game where another team is involved,” Snee said. “If Kitchener brings Guelph over in any capacity, you can’t play in that game.”

That includes exhibition games or any sort of meet-up between franchises. The rules that govern this also apply to NHL teams, which is why drafted players who are NCAA-bound (or already there) do not play in the Traverse City tournament hosted by the Detroit Red Wings, for example.

If you do attend a camp, know the ’48-hour rule’

According to NCAA rules, players can attend a pro team’s camp once for 48 hours and the team can pay all their expenses (and yes, major junior teams are considered “pro” by the NCAA). But after that 48 hours is up, the player must leave immediately to qualify. This is important, because if a camp is five days long, for example, the player can stay the duration, but only if they pay for all their own food and lodging after the 48-hour window. Also, if you stay longer, the team can no longer pay for your plane/train/bus fare home. That’s on you.

You can use the 48-hour rule with as many teams as you want, but only once with the same team. So if you’re drafted by an NHL franchise, there’s almost always a rookie camp to attend. If you don’t want to pay the expense, you can only be there 48 hours. If you’re still in college the next summer, you have to pay your own way to rookie camp.

Also important, though less common: you can’t miss school to attend an event. But most of this happens during summer anyway.

Don’t sign anything, don’t take anything

If you do attend a CHL camp, don’t get involved with paperwork.

“We realize it can be an intimidating situation,” Snee said. “But our rule of thumb is just don’t sign anything.”

Obviously contracts with junior teams shouldn’t be signed if you want to play college hockey, but even things that are similar to contracts should be avoided.

“The NCAA will look at intent,” Snee said.

And it may go without saying, but don’t take any money from a team. What may be less obvious, however, is that you shouldn’t accept any gifts from a team – even a T-shirt or a ball cap.

It sounds like a lot of sacrifice, but for players who want the NCAA experience, it’s all necessary. CHL teams want talented players, so of course they will continue to invite NCAA-curious kids to their camps. the CHL offers great opportunities too and for me, the choice is up to the player: both paths have strengths.

But having that choice made for you because of a bylaw is a bummer.

Note:  This is an excellent article that us sent to me by a NCAA Div. 1 Coach this week to include in our newsletter,  but it is not all inclusive….. meaning there are some other rules that you also must follow to retain your eligibility.


The Pros And Pitfalls Of Playing Up

Development Experts Urge Players And Parents To Avoid The Rush And Enjoy The Process

By: Brian Lester

It can be easy for parents to push the envelope with their children when it comes to youth sports. They believe their child is the best of the bunch and they want him or her to be challenged against the best possible competition. For many that means playing up to the next age level.

A select group of athletes are good enough to play with older players, their talents well beyond what most of their peers possess, but for most, the impact of playing up can have a negative effect in the long run.

“Sports are about long-term development. There is no reason to rush the process,” said Ryan Hardy, the director of player personnel for USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program. “There is a lot of value in taking your time rather than rushing to play up a level.”

If Hardy had his choice when it comes to young athletes, he believes the best situation for them is to stay within their age group, both for on-ice and off-the-ice purposes.

“I prefer it because it not only helps them develop better from a skill standpoint, but it benefits them socially and emotionally,” he said. “Sometimes being around older kids they hear or learn things they don’t need to at their age. If parents are going to play their child up a level, they need to make sure the situation is right for the child.”

Hardy also noted that in hockey, playing up isn’t a common occurrence.

“It’s still rare in our sport for kids to play up,” Hardy said. “There are not a large number of players that benefit from playing up a level.”

Stephen Norris, a specialist in long-term athletic development, has similar thoughts on the subject. He points out that every child is different, so a situation that may be right for one young athlete could prove detrimental to another.

“You have to look at it on a case-by-case basis,” said Norris, who has served as the vice president of the Canadian Winter Sport Institute. “There needs to be a very good reason for wanting them to play up. It’s important to look at the long-term effects of it.”

And Norris can’t stress enough the importance of making a decision that is in the best interest of the child.

“I have nothing against children playing up a level, but the decision can’t be about the competitive outcome, which is what so many parents are focused on,” Norris said. “We tend to throw out the rulebook when it comes to common sense in sports.”

Bob Mancini has seen the situation from both sides. As someone who has been involved in player development for more than 25 years, Mancini cautions parents and players not to rush through the process. Last year his own son, Victor, played up a level for a year, and he noted it had no negative impact on him. Still, he agreed that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to deciding when it’s right for a child to move up a competitive level.

“Every situation is different,” Mancini said. “If they have a chance to be one of the top-three forwards or top-two defensemen, maybe that is the right decision to make. It has to be done for the right reason.”

Looking at the right reason, however, isn’t as simple as it may seem.

“When you put your parent goggles on, you only see how great your kid is and don’t think about how playing up might affect them,” Mancini said. “They may lose confidence by playing up or it could hurt their development as a player.”

Mancini noted that the most important thing is keeping young athletes within their training window, so for example, a 7-year-old moving up to play with 8-year-olds likely won’t have the same negative impact as an 8-year-old moving up to play with 9-year-olds.

He stresses the importance of staying in that window because of the positive effects it will have on their development as athletes.

“You get better by having the puck,” Mancini said. “If you are playing up and the other kids are bigger and better than you, you are going to end up chasing other players around and you aren’t going to become a better player. Your role won’t be as important on the team.

“I think you are seeing fewer kids play up. Parents and coaches are both seeing the benefits of keeping kids in their own age group.”

Hardy said there are exceptions where it may prove beneficial, such as if an athlete plays in an area where hockey opportunities are more limited and moving up is necessary to be challenged a little more.

Still, he points out that playing with older kids could put a younger player at greater risk of injury, and there’s always the potential that a lack of success could have a negative impact his or her passion for the game.

“If you force the speeding up of the development process, it can lead to burnout,” Hardy said. “You want them to have a love for the game and a desire to continue playing the sport when they are older. A lot of times when they move up, it can feel like a job instead of being fun.”

Norris said it can be difficult to deal with those raised expectations that are placed on the shoulders of the young athletes who are think they’re ready to play at the next level.

“By moving up, there is added pressure to perform,” he said. “We also forget to value the social and emotional growth of athletes. Those things suffer because they are playing with kids who are older than them.”

Youth sports is about having fun, and it’s important that young athletes enjoy their experience rather than look back on it with regret.

“At the end of the day,” Norris said, “you want a kid to look back on his or her experience playing sports and think about the great time they had and feel like they learned a lot from the experience.”


NCAA hockey a better fit for some Canadians

Blackhawks’ Toews inspired Ontario’s Caggiula to play college hockey

The Canadian Press

Drake Caggiula of Whitby, Ont., was inspired to play U.S. college hockey after watching a young Jonathan Toews, a one-time standout with the University of North Dakota and now star forward with the NHL's Chicago Blackhawks. Caggiula, also a forward, will be making his third straight Frozen Four appearance this week in Tampa, Fla., with North Dakota. He has 58 goals and 122 points in 160 games since arriving at the school in 2012 and is expected to be a target for NHL teams as an undrafted free agent.

Drake Caggiula of Whitby, Ont., was inspired to play U.S. college hockey after watching a young Jonathan Toews, a one-time standout with the University of North Dakota and now star forward with the NHL’s Chicago Blackhawks. Caggiula, also a forward, will be making his third straight Frozen Four appearance this week in Tampa, Fla., with North Dakota. He has 58 goals and 122 points in 160 games since arriving at the school in 2012 and is expected to be a target for NHL teams as an undrafted free agent. (Associated Press/Tom Olmscheid)

Drake Caggiula couldn’t look away.

An impressionable 12 years old back in early 2007, the native of Whitby, Ont., was glued to the television in awe as a Canadian he knew nothing about scored a shootout goal in what became a memorable semifinal victory over the United States at the world junior hockey championship.

The player was University of North Dakota star Jonathan Toews, and Caggiula was hooked.

“I was watching him in the shootout and wondering: ‘Where does he play?”‘ Caggiula recalled in a phone interview this week. “There’s this college guy that’s just tearing it up. I wanted to figure out more about him.

“Next thing you know I’m looking up North Dakota and watching YouTube videos and fell in love with the place and said: ‘If I can play college hockey, that’s the one place I want to go.”‘

Grand Forks, N.D., is exactly where he wound up, and after four years and three straight appearances in the NCAA’s Frozen Four, including this week in Tampa, Fla., Caggiula is glad he chose U.S. college hockey over the major junior route in Canada.

“Being a smaller player, I just figured it would give me more time to develop physically,” said the 21-year-old.

With 58 goals and 64 assists in 160 games since arriving at the school in 2012, the five-foot-10, 185-pound forward is expected to be a target for NHL teams as an undrafted free agent once his season ends.




Caggiula was a third-round pick of the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters as a teenager, but decided to play a level below in junior A to maintain eligibility south of the border, improve his game and give his body time to mature.

‘This was an opportunity for me to get stronger. I wasn’t at the level I needed to be to play in the WHL [Western Hockey League] at my size.’– B.C.’s Troy Stecher on playing U.S. college hockey

“That was the best option for me to become the player I am,” he said.

North Dakota defenceman Troy Stecher, who like Caggiula should get a lot of attention from NHL clubs after the Frozen Four, followed a similar path.

“I knew my stature was something I would have to overcome,” said Stecher, who turns 22 this week. “This was an opportunity for me to get stronger. I wasn’t at the level I needed to be to play in the WHL at my size.”

Now five-foot-11 and 191 pounds, the Richmond, B.C., native said choosing college hockey was life-changing.

“You still have an opportunity to make it based on your performance,” said Stecher. “This route gives you extra time to develop into the player you want to be. With that you can do whatever you want.”

Alternative to major junior hockey

As North Dakota gets set to take on Denver in one of Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinals — Boston College meets Quinnipiac in the other — Caggiula and Stecher’s sentiments are shared by some of the other Canadians whose teams are still alive in the tournament.

Major junior hockey is a great opportunity, they say, but it wasn’t for them. They required time to grow in lower leagues before taking the next step.

“Guys who go to the WHL are more physically mature at 16 or 17,” said Denver forward Matt Marcinew, a 22-year-old from Calgary. “That wasn’t the case for me and I needed that extra time to get physically ready.”

Over the last five years, Canadians have made up roughly 30 per cent of NCAA Division 1 players.

“I wasn’t getting any looks from the WHL. I was a small defenceman growing up. My bantam draft year I was five foot two, 102 pounds,” said Quinnipiac’s Devon Toews, now six foot one and 181 pounds. “I wasn’t a good size for the WHL. I kept playing my game and I started to grow a little bit.”

The 22-year-old from Abbotsford, B.C., a New York Islanders’ fourth-round pick who is not related to Jonathan Toews, has seen plenty of players go to the WHL, ruling them out of any future NCAA career, and not make it.

“They were released from their teams or moved around and haven’t really made a name for themselves,” said Toews.

Former NHLer Brendan Morrison played for Michigan in three Frozen Fours, a single-elimination competition similar to the NCAA’s men’s basketball tournament, scoring in overtime to clinch the 1996 title for the Wolverines in an era when fewer Canadians were in U.S. college.

“If you’re a good enough player, you’re going to make the pros no matter what route you go,” said Morrison, who suited up for more than 900 games in the NHL. “But what you get exposed to in college, you can’t get anywhere else.”

Caggiula said that even if the NHL doesn’t pan out, playing at North Dakota turned out to be a no-brainer.

“If worse comes to worst you have your education and you get a regular job,” said Caggiula. “You’re killing two birds with one stone. You’re really setting yourself up further down the road in life.”

Posted in Academics, NCAA

Mind Games: Using your brain to improve your game

Developing Skills Between The Ears Can Be As Important As Mastering Skills On The Ice

By: Jim Leitner

Grant Standbrook sounds more like a martial arts instructor than one of the most successful assistant coaches and recruiters in the history of NCAA Division I hockey.

In addition to a masterful command of teaching the fundamentals of the game, the 74-year-old believes in helping hockey players develop skills between their ears. That explains why, even though he retired from the University of Maine in 2008, impressionable youngsters still hang on his every word.

“If you’re walking down an alley and you’re accosted by two thugs, your natural tendency is to tighten up all your muscles and hold your breath, and that’s the last thing you want to do,” said Standbrook, who won three NCAA championships at the University of Wisconsin and two more at Maine.

“You want to be relaxed, you want to be calm and you want to be breathing properly so you can think clearly and handle the situation.”

The same principles apply to hockey. Late in a close game, the star player tends to receive added attention in the way of cheap shots and verbal taunts in an attempt to throw him off his game.

“It’s natural to want to drill the guy back,” Standbrook said. “But you have to know the situation and what they’re trying to do. You have to be able to keep your composure to help your team finish the game.”

According to Standbrook, great athletes seem to have an innate ability to be relaxed and comfortable in pressure situations. But over the years, he has found that these are skills that can be learned, with the right coaching.

Standbrook developed an appreciation for improving his players’ mental side of the game while at Dartmouth College in the early 1970s and applied that knowledge to two U.S. National Teams and the 1976 Olympic squad. In the rough-and-tumble world of hockey, he introduced to his players the benefits of yoga, proper breathing techniques, meditation and visualization.

One of his protégés, Jim Montgomery, applied many of those techniques during an all-American career at Maine and a 12-year run in pro hockey. The captain of the 1993 National Championship team and the Black Bears’ all-time leading scorer, Montgomery hired Standbrook as a part-time consultant when he became the head coach and general manager of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2010.

“I did a lot of those [mental] exercises when I was down with injuries, because they kept me mentally sharp and gave me a chance to visualize game situations and being successful in them,” said Montgomery, who led Dubuque to the Clark Cup in his first season.

“You have to understand how to focus and prepare for games to have success, and that’s one of the big reasons I brought in Grant to work with our players.

“If everyone has the same physical skills and the same level of teamwork, what separates the performance is the mental toughness of the athletes involved.
—Dr. Patrick Cohn, the president and founder of Peak Performance Sports in Orlando, Fla.,

“It’s important to visualize situations before you’ve actually experienced them. Then, when you’re on the ice, those situations feel more natural.”

Dr. Patrick Cohn, the president and founder of Peak Performance Sports in Orlando, Fla., empowers athletes in all sports with mental toughness by helping them discover confidence, composure and focus through powerful mental skill games.

“The mental side of the game is everything,” Cohn said. “If everyone has the same physical skills and the same level of teamwork, what separates the performance is the mental toughness of the athletes involved. By improving the mental game – regardless of whether the athlete has internal or external challenges to overcome – you can perform at your peak more consistently.”

He agreed with Standbrook that mental toughness can be a developed skill.

“It’s like your stickhandling. You always want to learn something new or try a new strategy to take your stickhandling to the next level,” Cohn said. “The same applies to the mental game. You always want to learn new things to improve your mental game.”

Cohn teaches athletes to refocus when they’re distracted and feel confident despite mistakes or setbacks. The key comes in trusting the skills an athlete has developed through years of practice and repetition.

More importantly, athletes must overcome the challenges that suppress mental toughness. High expectations and fear of failure can prohibit athletes from reaching their potential.

“Athletes always feel as though they have to perform perfectly all the time, so they bind themselves up or get frustrated easily when they’re not perfect,” Cohn said.

When he begins working with an athlete, Cohn asks him to let go of expectations that cause pressure. He then focuses on the process of taking one play or one shift at a time.

Confidence can become a controllable mindset if a player focuses on what gives him positive results, such as repetition in practice, good coaching or previous successes. Confidence killers – such as high expectations, self-doubt, negative mental images and comparisons to other players – must be minimized.

Cohn uses Wayne Gretzky, the NHL’s all-time leading scorer, as an example of how the proper mindset can influence a player’s career. Extraordinary cerebral skills enabled Gretzky to envision plays before they occurred.

It started with his pregame warm-up where the Great One would get himself in the right mindset. From there he would review his game plan and make adjustments.

“I would take a few moments in the locker room and visualize myself on the ice to help me avoid distractions and focus on my game plan,” Gretzky said.

Everything in hockey happens so quickly that players don’t have a lot of time to think. But that doesn’t mean they should ignore the mental side of the game.

“Because the game is so fast-paced, it’s more of a reaction sport, which is good, because athletes in sports like golf, baseball and tennis can bog themselves down and overthink things,” Cohn said.

“But, on the other hand, if you’re indecisive or second-guessing yourself for a split second, your opportunity may be gone. So, it’s critical that hockey players are decisive, confident and trust what they’re doing out there.”


Former BC star, Bruin Janney gains U.S. Hockey hall

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Longtime high school coach Bill Belisle, forward Craig Janney and the 1996 World Cup of Hockey team are this year’s inductees into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

The class was announced by USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean on the NHL Network on Monday night.

The 86-year-old Belisle has won 32 state championships in 41 seasons at Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island, with a record of 990-183-137. Among his players were two No. 1 overall NHL draft picks, Brian Lawton in 1993 and Bryan Berard in 1995, and more than 20 of his players have been drafted, including 2015 U.S. Hockey Hall inductee Mathieu Schneider.

Janney is the leader in assists per game among U.S.-born players and was one of the top playmakers of his era. He had 563 assists and 751 points in 760 games.

“This is a guy who just doesn’t get into enough of the conversations of the best players of the last 25 years,” Ogrean said. “He came just a whisker away from averaging one point a game.”

Janney played 12 years in the NHL after being selected by the Boston Bruins in the first round, 13th overall, of the 1986 NHL Entry Draft.

Among American-born skaters in the NHL, Janney ranks fourth in points per game (0.988) while his 563 assists are 11th all-time. In 760 career NHL games, the Hartford, Connecticut, native had 188 goals while playing for seven teams (Boston Bruins, St. Louis Blues, San Jose Sharks, Winnipeg Jets, Phoenix Coyotes, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders).

During his time in Boston, Janney helped the Bruins reached the Stanley Cup finals in both 1988 and 1990. Prior to the NHL, Janney skated two seasons with the Boston College men’s ice hockey program. In his second campaign (1986-87), the Deerfield Academy (Conn.) product was a Hobey Baker Finalist after setting Hockey East Association single-season records in points (74) and assists (51). In total that season (1986-87), Janney recorded 81 points (26-55) in 37 games played.

The 1996 World Cup of Hockey team was chosen on the 20th anniversary of its title in the inaugural event. Brett Hull had seven goals and 11 points to lead a team that also featured Keith Tkachuk, Brian Leetch, Chris Chelios and Mike Modano.

The team, coached by Ron Wilson, was 6-0-1 and outscored its opponents 37-18, including consecutive 5-2 victories over Canada in Montreal for the title. Goalie Mike Richter was the tournament MVP.

“I know there’s a lot of folks who really feel this was a breakthrough team for the U.S.,” Ogrean said. “It wasn’t an accident, it was not a miracle. They made a statement that we had arrived on equal footing.”

Sixteen members of that team have been inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall.


4 Reasons Why Your Aim for Success is Missing the Mark

Creating Achievable Goals

Written by Rebekah Olsen

Much like writing a letter to Santa, our society believes that if we write down our goals, they will magically appear. Success will come wrapped up in red-and-green paper, nestled under a tree of pine needles and money.

But as you get older, you realize that Santa Clause was your parents, the Tooth Fairy isn’t a pink-winged lady with an unhealthy obsession with canines, and creating a list of this year’s resolutions won’t help you succeed.

While the theory of goal setting has been around since the 1960s, experts agree that goal setting can often do more harm than good. It can lead to a lack of motivation, feelings of discouragement and low self-worth, unethical behavior and eventually, failure to succeed itself.

Writing down your goals is only a reminder of what you hope to achieve—it’s a prescription waiting to be filled. If you want to hit the mark of success, you have to fill the prescription by making changes to yourself and your aspirations.

Here are 4 reasons why you may be having trouble achieving your goals and steps on how to improve your aim for success.

1. You aimed for the moon when you should’ve hit the trees

Aspiring for the highest achievements is admirable, and why shouldn’t you be the best you can be? But when it comes to goal setting, you have a higher chance of success if you break your goals up into more manageable and achievable bits. When you set too high of a goal, fear of failure begins to creep in and you’re likely to return to more comfortable behaviors. Focusing on the smaller wins, instead of the bigger picture, motivates you to continue forward.

If you want to be the next Donald Trump, seek out a local business owner that can mentor you on the ins and outs of entrepreneurship. If your goal is to get accepted into graduate school, learn new studying techniques to improve your current grades.

Aiming for smaller goals will give you the practice you need to visualize and hit your ultimate shot.

2. You took the path less travelled when the sidewalk was just fine

The path to success is just as important as the end destination. When you overly focus on a goal, you risk sacrificing your values and independent thinking to achieve it. Success is not just the mere attainment of goals, but also the attainment of skills and the personal growth you develop along the way.

Maybe your goal was to improve your Spanish grades from a D to an A, but because you aren’t all that interested in learning Spanish you typed your paper into an online translator. Sure, you got a better grade because your sentences were conjugated correctly, but are you any better at Spanish than you were before?

Instead of aiming blindly for achievement, turn your goal into a passion. Pick a goal that is not only easily attainable but one you actually want to attain. If you love movies, try watching Spanish flicks. Or just switch to learning a different language you’re more interested in.

When you’re passionate about something, you’ll not only be motivated to achieve it but also want to achieve it the right way.

3. You got back up when you should’ve stayed down

Experts say that goal setting is only effective if it’s rewarding, positive and easy. In our culture, we define success as 100% and anything 99% or less is failure—we tend to focus only on the parts we aren’t achieving and never the small successes along the way. When you set a goal that isn’t attainable, possibly outside of your capability, you’re setting yourself up for failure, negative emotions and demotivation.

If you’ve fallen too many times, sometimes the best option is to stay down and reevaluate your goal; the target may be too far away. If your company’s goal is to be valued at $5 million, but your sales team isn’t able to reach the $5,000 a month in revenue, you may need to start back at square one with retraining your staff in sales and customer service.

Success requires change in your mind and body, and change can take time. Choose goals that are easy to achieve so you don’t lose the motivation to continue forward.

Remember, failure does not mean you are a failure; there will be circumstances outside of your control that will prevent 100% success.

4. You’re waiting on the door to unlock when the window is open

Being laser-focused on your goals is one way to do it, but sometimes you miss out on opportunities because you’re too determined to stick to the plan. When creating your goal, leave some wiggle room for change and keep your eyes peeled for unique opportunities that may lead you to the same end.

Attend networking events, utilize your own contacts and keep an open-mind when working towards success. Your path to graduate school may be through the professor you helped last semester and not in higher grades. You may be more adept at Spanish if you spend a few months in Costa Rica, and your sales team might need a better product to market to reach your goal.

Keeping an open mind, creating a list of acheivable goals and staying on the honest path will help you succeed in life in the most unexpected ways!


Social media is a double-edged sword in sports world


By Arash Markazi


The greatest moment in Larry Nance Jr.’s basketball career turned into a humiliating and gut-wrenching one before he was even done hugging friends and family during last month’s NBA draft.

Moments after the Los Angeles Lakers selected Nance with the 27th overall pick, a tweet he posted three years ago as a 19-year-old freshman at Wyoming resurfaced and was retweeted and favorited thousands of times.

The tweet read: “Gee I sure hope Kobe can keep his hands to himself in Denver this time. #rapist.” It was originally posted on May 1, 2012, before the Lakers traveled to Colorado for Game 3 of their first-round playoff series against the Denver Nuggets. It was a passing thought by a teenager that reared its head when Nance became Bryant’s teammate.

Nance deleted the tweet, but the damage was done — screen-grabbed and downloaded for everyone to see.

“I heard my named called with the 27th pick. It was about two minutes until I found out about that,” Nance said. “About 24 hours went past. I felt like I was going to throw up — sick to my stomach. I was just embarrassed in myself. I felt so bad about what I had said. I just wanted to apologize right away.”

Bryant accepted Nance’s apology the next day. Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak learned about the tweet as he prepared to address reporters after the draft.

“It’s something that happened years ago, and in today’s world, things don’t go away, which really doesn’t make it any less offensive because it was said three, four years ago,” Kupchak said.

Would the Lakers have drafted Nance if they had known about the tweet? It’s difficult to say, but one source said the Lakers were considering “a handful of players” at that spot, and knowledge of Nance’s tweet might have made it easier to pick another one. Either way, the scouting reports teams compile on players are increasingly becoming much broader than a simple list of athletic traits and quick background check. How athletes conduct themselves on social media allows teams and schools a glimpse into the personality of the people they are trusting to represent them in the future.

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Larry Nance Jr. regretted posting a tweet critical of Kobe Bryant when the comment came to light after Nance was drafted by the Lakers. David Dow/Getty Images


Earlier this year, the Pew Research Center released a report that found 92 percent of teens are online daily, while close to 90 percent use at least one social media platform. It’s a big reason almost every college program not only follows prospective student-athletes on the field of play but also on Twitter and Instagram to get a better idea about the personalities and characters of the players they are trying to recruit.

When Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt spoke to some of the nation’s top high school athletes at the annual Gatorade Athlete of the Year function last week in Los Angeles, he stressed the importance of being careful on social media.

“Read each tweet about 95 times before sending it,” he said in an interview with MaxPreps.com. “Look at every Instagram post about 95 times before you send it. A reputation takes years and years and years to build, and it takes one press of a button to ruin. So don’t let that happen to you. Just be very smart about it.”


Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema recently said his staff pays close attention to how potential recruits handle themselves on social media.

Arkansas football coach Bret Bielema said he won’t recruit players who offend his sensibilities on social media. AP Photo/David Quinn

“We have a social media background screening that you’ve got to go through,” Bielema said at SEC media days last week. “And if you have a social media nickname or something on your Twitter account that makes me sick, I’m not going to recruit you. I’ve turned down players based on their Twitter handles. I’ve turned down players based on Twitter pictures. It’s just that’s how I choose to run our program.”

It might seem like a strong stance, but Bielema isn’t alone. Last year, Penn State offensive line coach Herb Hand tweeted: “Dropped another prospect this AM due to his social media presence … Actually glad I got to see the ‘real’ person before we offered him.”

Three years ago, Yuri Wright was a four-star recruit and one of the top 100 prospects in the country. He was being recruited by Notre Dame, Georgia and Michigan, and many signs pointed to his committing to Michigan. One day before national signing day, however, Wright was expelled by his high school, Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey, New Jersey, after several of his sexually graphic and racially charged tweets came to light. After the incident, Michigan and Notre Dame stopped recruiting Wright, who eventually signed with Colorado.

Wright’s case is a high-profile example of a recruit facing consequences for bad decisions on social media, but it’s not a unique situation. Rather, most players with similar issues don’t have a large enough following for inappropriate comments or pictures to make waves outside of the coaches who are monitoring them.

“I don’t know if it’s fair or not,” said Fieldhouse Media founder Kevin DeShazo, who has worked with more than 70 universities regarding social media. “These are high school kids, and they’re going to make mistakes. In my experience, in every school we’ve been to, there’s been at least one coach who has said they’ve dropped a kid based off of what they put online. If it’s extremely offensive, they’re gone immediately, but they’re usually looking for red flags, and if it’s a pattern or a one-time thing.”


Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt advises young athletes to be extremely mindful of how they present themselves on social media. Kevin Jairaj/USA TODAY Sports


Many college and professional teams offer some sort of training in social media. Companies such as Fieldhouse Media are routinely hired to speak to athletes about using social media intelligently. But DeShazo doesn’t just discuss social media with students. He also talks to coaches and administrators separately about dealing with athletes using social media.

“I don’t want to come in and say, ‘Don’t tweet this. Don’t post that. Don’t screw up. Don’t be an idiot. This is going to ruin your life,'” DeShazo said. “That would be a waste of an hour of their time, and they would walk away wondering what they’re supposed to do. So we talk to them about risks but [also] how to communicate effectively on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.”

For years, college programs have held annual sessions on how to deal with traditional media and interviews. Many schools have extended training to include best practices for social media.

“The reality is people are living a portion of their lives publicly by exposing themselves on social media,” said Karen North, a communications professor and director of digital social media at the University of Southern California. “What they do on social media is very visible. A lot of people think it’s unfair to do this, but there’s a certain legitimacy to checking that kind of activity among the people that will represent the face of a team.”

The number of coaches and teams who don’t allow players to use social media has decreased in recent years, DeShazo said, as coaches realize that many players will use them anyway. Further, social platforms give coaches another avenue to communicate with recruits. The NCAA regulates phone calls and text messages between coaches and recruits, but there’s no such limit on tweets.

In today’s sports world, avoiding social media can put coaches at risk of losing recruits.

“I think that can be used against schools, because it’s such a massive part of these kids’ lives,” DeShazo said. “Some studies will say they’re spending up to 3.8 hours per day on social media and online, and if you’re saying you don’t get to do that, you’re not really speaking their language. You have to be able to connect with them.”

Other schools are taking that philosophy a step further and selling their programs as places where players can establish themselves both on and off the field.

“Our media training has now shifted from just talking about properly dealing with the media to how best to establish your brand through social media,” said one athletic administrator of a major college program. “That’s really what it’s all about. We have recruits now coming in with that in mind now. These kids are looking to develop a brand and developing their identity through social media, and we want to help them. Showing them how to do interviews has shifted to showing them how to best use social media.”

Although most athletes being recruited today have used social media for years, many still don’t understand the potential repercussions of missteps. Every immature comment, inappropriate photo or forgettable moment can still be floating out there online — just waiting to be scrutinized.

“What I say when I talk to athletes — student and professional — is if you think it’s temporary, it’s permanent; and if you think it’s private, it’s public,” North said. “It doesn’t matter if you delete it.”

While social media have possible pitfalls, athletes can also use them as vehicles to control their message, build brands and directly engage with fans. North said she believes the rewards of building a powerful social media presence outweigh the risks, if athletes treat each tweet as if it were being shared with a group of reporters at a news conference.

“There’s no better way to reach your fans than social media,” North said. “If you want to think about what is the greatest strength of social media as far as a communication medium, it’s that we can all have what feels like a personal relationship with people that have some sort of celebrity. It’s the most amazing thing for audience-building and building a fan base. So the idea of coaches saying you can’t use social media is a little ridiculous in this day and age. The transition from rules against social media to social media training is a really important transition most organizations and schools are beginning to realize.”