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Welcome To Our Newsletter – End of May

 

 

portraitSuitcoat100I hope this newsletter finds you well.

There are lots of very important decisions to make over the next short while for many young hockey players and their families.

For many, these will be “Life Decisions”, and will forever influence what the rest of your life will bring.

I remind all players and families that not everything is it appears in the hockey world.

We remind people to make decisions based on “fact” and on “reality”, and based on “fact”….., and not on “ego”.

There are very exciting times ahead, indeed, but remember that hockey in a means to accomplish things that might otherwise not be possible. Please take full advantage if you can.

At this time of the year, I am reminded of something that a player once told me. As a young man, he was extremely wise.

He said that as he was coming along as a midget player and about to make important decisions, he went back over the rosters of previous midget teams and identified where players had ended up who were the “same player” as he was.

He said, “It’s easy to get caught up on the hype”.

He looked at similar players from the past 10 years, who had similar points to what he had, and played a similar game. He then reached out to them and found out what their experience was like as they came along, and the benefits that they had been able to leverage while using their hockey skills.Image result for important decisions ahead

As a player or parent, it is easy to identify the best players in the world and “how things worked out for them”, but “are you going to walk in their footsteps”.

If you are a “third line grinder”, talk to other third line grinders, and find out what their experience was like. Not every player, on every team, gets treated the same. Find out what other similar players experiences were like.

Spend some time on this, as the decisions that many players will make in the next 60 days will affect the rest of their lives. It truly will.

We often get calls from players “after the fact”, asking for help, and it is most often too late. The simple decision that may provide 20 minutes of bliss. may cause a lifetime of regret.

I remind parents that “adult decisions” need to be made, and it is easy to “leave decisions up to the person (player) who you may think knows the most about the game and what is best for them”, but…..

I remind all that at some point the game will be over, and life goes on.

Important “Life Decisions” are ahead.

All the very best to all, as you make these important determinations.

If you think we can help, please send us a message at info@hockeyfamilyadvisor.com


Sincerely,

David MacDonald, SPAD
Hockey Family Advisor


 

 

Posted in Newsletter

NCAA hockey a better fit for some Canadians

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

The Canadian Press , 2016

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.”

BU Recruit Shane Bowers Key Part of USHL Playoff Run

 

by Jeff Cox

Very few, if any, forwards in the USHL strike fear in opposing defensemen as does Boston University recruit Shane Bowers.

Image result for shane bowers hockeyThe second-year center for the Waterloo Black Hawks scored 22 goals and added 29 assists in 60 regular season games before tallying two goals and a helper in a three-game sweep of the Fargo Force in the Western Conference Semifinals.

“He combines his size and skill level. He uses his body positioning to protect the puck. He’s the best forward we’ve played against,” said Youngstown Phantoms defenseman Michael Karow, a BC commit.

Bowers, who hails from Halifax, Nova Scotia, has always been considered an elite skater with a high-end offensive skill set, but he’s rounded out his game in his second season of junior hockey.

“I think I’m reliable in all situations, even strength, power play and penalty kill,” said Bowers.

Playing for legendary coach P.K. O’Handley, he’s learned some of the finer points of the game that have helped him become a more well rounded player.

“He’s helped me in all areas of the game. He’s big into details. He tries to notice those and call me out on them to make me a better player,” Bowers said.

Still, it’s his offensive prowess, ability to possess the puck, and create chances that has scouts salivating at the possibility of their organization selecting him in the upcoming NHL Draft.

Image result for shane bowers hockey“I’m a great skating two-way center. My hockey IQ,” Bowers said of his strengths. “Protecting the puck is a skill I’ve tried to work on. Balance in your skates and a low center of gravity, but you still have to work hard down low and read the situation.”

Bowers tries to keep a close eye on Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews in an effort to assimilate parts of the NHL star’s game into his own.

“I like the way he plays the game at both ends of the ice and he’s got great leadership qualities. I try to watch him and put that into my game,” said Bowers.

Bowers is the star of yet another terrific recruiting class heading David Quinn’s way. He chose the Terriers over Boston College, Wisconsin and Minnesota-Duluth.

“There was a comfort level. The coaching staff is awesome. The facilities are awesome. It’s a little closer to home. It made the decision easy,” Bowers said.

Button-Ad-2017-CHAFindOutMoreDespite being picked fourth overall by Cape Breton in the 2015 QMJHL Draft, Bowers has always been confident in the NCAA route.

“It keeps all my options open. It doesn’t close any doors. You don’t have to rush. Not being the biggest and thickest guy, more time in the weight room will be beneficial,” Bowers said.

While the Clark Cup is the center of his attention right now, Bowers will be at next month’s NHL Scouting Combine and will almost certainly hear his name called in the first round of the NHL Draft.

“I’ve talked to quite a few teams. I just try to play my best, give it my all and put my best foot forward. I’m going to try to keep my nerves to a minimum,” said Bowers.

Up next is a date with the Sioux City Musketeers in the Western Conference Finals. If the team can play as well as it did against Fargo, the organization’s first Clark Cup since 2004 might be in reach.

“We stuck to our game plan and our team knew what made it successful. We tried to focus on ourselves. We played our game,” Bowers began. “We are a fast team. We play hard. We try to keep things simple. Everyone is buying in right now.”

 

Managing your social media in an era of idiocy

Mediate your media

Managing your social media in an era of idiocy

By Peter O’Neill

Image result for social mediaSocial media isn’t just a trend or some phase that will eventually dissolve. It’s become a societal norm and has infused itself with our personal lives, obviously, but also our professional lives. At some point, you have to question whether everything you share or post is actually benefiting you. Because it should.

For a generation that is almost purposely going out of its way to look foolish, a positive and well-thought out social media presence can propel you to the head of the pack. While there are obviously pros and cons of having social media accounts, many people still stupidly walk into embarrassment and choose to humiliate themselves via social media.

It isn’t just your friends from the motherland that see your posts. You will, at some point, have someone with your possible future in his or her hands viewing your online footprint, seeing what kind of person you are. Whether it is an employer, a professor, your former high school girlfriend, I don’t know; I’m a journalist, not a psychic. Point is, you should always have your social media accounts ready to impress. If you’re going to have Big Brother watch over your shoulder, you might as well have something interesting to show them.

Rather than using your account to share memes, or some other Internet thing your parents ask you to delete, post your work instead. Converting your account into a portfolio is a double hitter. You get the attention from your peers, as well as possible employers, and you can connect with an online community outside of your region.

Image result for social media sportsLet’s briefly go over screen names, because they seem to be overlooked. You’ll probably want to have something that immediately shows the world who you are. Just keep in mind you will have to type this into a resume. So, if your name is “Puppy_Luver_28,” unless you’re applying for a job at a Tamagotchi animal shelter, that’s a no. Unless you are the hacker known as “4Chan,” you shouldn’t have a series of random letters and numbers to identify yourself. It is an account username, not your social security card. If your name, at any point, includes “69” then I suppose you’re perfectly happy with your current maturity level and see no reason to grow up professionally. Kudos.

A professional screen name should be your own name or that of your personal brand. Make it easy to remember and legible. No using nicknames or pet names as it risks excluding your audience.

Despite having a fancy title, there is still a risk of making yourself look bad. Especially if you have hundreds of people openly watching your feed. Don’t post some idiotic picture of you and “your boys” chugging Bud Lite while harassing Hooters employees. You’ll look dumb, and you’ll feel dumb (not to mention irrelevant, because no one your age even goes to Hooters).

When in conversation, there is a code to live by: no mentioning politics or religion. The same thing applies to what you post on your feed. Avoid hot topics you wouldn’t even talk about in public. Don’t post offensive or petty posts, because the only person it would really hurt is yourself.  Even if you separate your professional career from your social life,  make sure to always keep your social media on the highest privacy setting just in case. Don’t think it’s just the stupid decisions that prevent the respectability of your account. Spelling and grammar, if not properly fixed, may indicate to an employer of your lack of skills and can influence any decisions about hiring you.

If you don’t go the portfolio-conversion way, then the next best thing is to create a blog. Although it sounds like having one is a bit pretentious, blogs are very well respected as a means of showing off work. Posting pictures, articles, art work, etc; eventually you will have a complete archive of all your past work ready at a moment’s notice.

If you still want the professional tone but enjoy using social media more than you would a blog, websites like LinkedIn and even MySpace are acceptable alternatives. I would say to stay away from Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, because all of those seem to ruin the most honest of men. These are however generally good for getting the word out for events, special projects and so on. Musicians and artists do not have to struggle with finding organizations to fund them, as they could crowdfund globally and make a start from there.

If you are thinking of Twitter as the perfect means of addressing your peers, simply look how well our Commander-in-Chief handles it, and then don’t do it remotely like that. Remember your social media account is a tool, not a toy. Do not become distracted by it. Only post when you have to, and know your limitations.

As “social” as online media claims to be, many employers or clients are more impressed with your body language than your fancy posts. A firm handshake and a confident attitude, up close and personal, can be more likely to get you a job than an online resume. As great as you may sound on paper, it is up to the in-person interview to determine whether you get the job. Research shows that as much as social media gives us the confidence we may lack in the real world, it may create additional social problems as well. ADHD, depression, social anxiety and the bad case of “the feels” are all possible side effects of too much social media consumption.

When there are over 467 million accounts on LinkedIn, with two new members every second, you have to stand out in the crowd. Prove that your hypothetical footprint is more worthy to be online than everyone else’s. You can do that by having a respectable internet presence and an average amount of common sense.

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

 

 

5 ways hockey players can stand out in try outs!

by Maria Mountain

Image result for hockey players strength training

I was talking to one of the AAA players I train earlier this week and he told me that his team was doing spring try-outs this year, so that will be in the next month or two.  I wrote this article a while ago, but was saving it for later in July, however with these spring tryouts on the doorstep, I figure some of you will be looking for ways to stand out to the coach.  Maybe you are fighting to move up to (or stay on) the AAA squad.  Maybe you are trying to move up onto the first line, either way you need to do all you can do to stand out to the coach.

If you have ever had the chance to stand up and teach to a group or coach a group, you will appreciate what I am about to say… the coach (this goes for your teachers too) sees EVERYTHING!  I remember the first time I was invited back to my alma mater the University of Western Ontario as a guest lecturer – I could see the guy sleeping in the third from last row, I could see the girl reading her Harry Potter novel during the lecture, I could also see the students who were listening, paying attention and taking notes.  If one of those students was late to hand in an assignment, who do you think would get the benefit of the doubt?

Image result for hockey tryoutsI see the same thing as a strength coach and I know your hockey coaches see it too.  I remember the first year I ran an off-ice hockey training program through Revolution Conditioning, I was not in my full studio yet, so I ran it at an off-site facility.  This facility was shaped like an ‘L’, but it had mirrors everywhere, so I could actually see around the right angle corner.  This was a new group of kids that I had never trained before, but on the first day I saw the kid who I thought was going to be the best of the bunch – he was by far the biggest kid who I knew I could pack on about 12lbs of muscle mass at least, he was quick too!  Wow – I thought this kid who was drafted into the OHL would be unstoppable.  Then we started training!

This player would literally stand there pretending to lift weights when he thought I wasn’t looking, then when I came into his line of sight he would put on the big grimacing face and start actually doing the exercise.  What he did not realize is that I could easily see him from anywhere in the gym because of all the mirrors.  I even told him that I could see him – even that did not stop him.

Out of that group of four players, three of them went on to have full careers in the OHL, two of them were drafted into the NHL and guess where the other guy ended up – no where.  You see as you play at higher levels it gets tougher for the coach to decide who he is going to select based on play alone.  Coaches are looking at the overall quality of the player – who is going to battle, who wants to be there, who is ready to work hard and become better.  Here are a few tips that may help you stand out during this year’s tryouts:

√  If the coach is talking, you are looking right at him, listening to their words.  Even if you are paying attention, but looking away from the coach – the coach will assume you are not interested in what he or she has to say.

√  Never be the last one on the ice or the first one off.  If you have the opportunity to get on the ice early or stay a little longer, take it – you always have things to work on.  Show the coach you are a self-directed learner who is willing to put in extra effort without being asked or told.

√  When it comes time to do conditioning drills, go hard right from the start.  I hate it when I run conditioning drills and one kid is in the bottom half of the group for the first 8 reps and then on the last rep they are 15 meters ahead of everyone.  To me that screams, “I was doggin’ it for the first 8 reps so I could look good on the last one!”  Don’t do that, work hard every rep!

√  Encourage your fellow players – that shows you have character and that you are interested in making the entire group better.

√  Ask questions.  If you are not sure what to do or how to play your position better, do not be shy to ask the coach.  Again this shows you are trying to be better every day and that you respect the coach’s opinion.

I hope those tips help remind you what every player who wants to be their best should be doing during tryouts, the off-season and the in-season.

 

3 Off-Ice Summer Training Habits for Our Younger Hockey Players

The off-season is the perfect time to build your routine.

By Kelvin Cech

 

The dog days of summer are enough to zap the energy out of anybody, let alone a teenaged hockey player with other things on his mind during the off-season.

Image result for summer training hockeyMaintaining proper habits and routine while training during the summer can mean a world of difference.

For junior-hopefuls who may be on the bubble, it’s the difference between making the team and being sent back to midget.

For midget players, it’s the difference between playing on the first power play unit and watching from the bench.

For peewee and bantam-aged players, you can’t make the team in July, but you can certainly eliminate yourself from consideration.

Here’s three crucial summer training habits for all hockey players.

1. Diversity

It’s easy to forget that 15 year-old hockey players don’t have their drivers’ license yet, they can’t vote and most of them can’t tell a dishwasher from a washing machine.

Ok, there are 31 year-old former hockey players-turned coaches who don’t know that last one either, but the fact remains that the summer is a time to be a kid. People believe that because the Jones’ are on the ice training year-round that they need to keep up.

This is false.

Training for hockey is about quality over quantity. So, what’s a young hockey player to do?

Ride a bike.

• Go swimming.

•Try yoga.

• Play a brand new sport.

 

Hockey is a game, but it’s a stressful game once the season begins. Summers for teenagers and almost-teenagers should be stress-free.

2. Rest & Recovery

Coaches can tell when players are tired.

The hockey season is a grind no matter what age, but particularly for 14, 15 and 16 year-olds who are pushed to the limits from the middle of August until the end of March. 

Image result for teenagers sleepThe psychical toll on a body that’s not fully developed can’t be understated, so once the spring rolls around, the time is right to re-capture proper eating habits and sleep patterns. 

Does this mean sleeping in until noon every day and then eating a gigantic steak  is the key to cracking a junior squad?

Nope. 

Teenagers need a lot of rest, there’s no denying that. Image result for healthy eating breakfast

So, sleep till nine, eat a big breakfast chock-filled with fruit-based carbohydrates, whole grains and protein. Then go back to bed if you need to.

Or, better yet, go mow the lawn for Dad.

(You can nap later.)

3. Mental Awareness

This one is a little less tangible, but awareness of one’s own mental state has been a controversial topic for years that’s only now attracting public attention.

Your son or daughter is not a hockey player.

Your son or daughter plays hockey.

In the wake of the Terry Trafford tragedy it’s never been more important for young hockey players to recognize when they’ve had enough. No sport is worth a persistently negative experience, let alone a life.

It’s important for teenage hockey players in particular to recognize when they’re mentally or physically exhausted. The problem is that some parents or coaches equate fatigue with ‘being soft’ or lacking dedication to their careers.

As a wise man once told me, hockey is not a career until you’re paid for it. 

From a parent’s perspective alone, forcing a tired hockey player to train is a waste of three main things:

√ parents’ money (on and off-ice sessions your child isn’t committed to)

√ parents’ time (driving to and from the rink or the gym)

√ parents’ energy (every parent stresses about what’s best for their child)

When it comes to spring hockey, lessons and summer training, regardless of parents, over-tired hockey players simply don’t retain nearly as much information or routines as fresh, motivated athletes.

Take some time off this summer. Either in June or July, and then get back on your skates once the time is right. No matter what age, you’ll come back hungry and eager to take the next step.

The Most Important Question to Ask This Summer

“What do I want?”

It’s astonishing how many answers this simple question yields.

• Right now, I want to eat an entire pizza, but in two months, I want to make the Midget A1 team.

• Right now, I want to improve my skating, but I also want to go to a movie with my buddies.

• Right now, I want to attend every possible on-ice session available to me, but I also want to not hate hockey.

This summer, listen to yourself and balance your life. With proper habits in nutrition, rest and recovery, it’s possible to have a relaxing, fun and productive summer no matter want you want to do.

 

5 Essential Mental Preparation Tips for Hockey Players

Hockey, like all sports, is filled with intangibles and idiosyncrasies that define the game, the culture and determines who achieves the most success. We’ve all heard the saying, “Hockey is 10% physical and 90% mental.” The statement may be a bit inaccurate, but the overall message is bang on. In order to reach the high levels of hockey, you certainly need a high level of physical skill, but it is the mental aspect of the game that separates good from great.

The mental side of the game is what defines consistency in hockey. It’s why one player can dominate one night and be the worst player on the ice the next night. Talent is abundant. The fastest skater in the world doesn’t play in the NHL. The player with the hardest shot in the world doesn’t play in the NHL. The greatest league in the world is full of talented players who are able to think the game at a high level and perform with consistency. As the pace of the game picks up and the plays become sharper, so does their focus. To become elite means to prepare like an elite professional.

Below are 5 effective mental preparation tips to ensure you are always performing at your peak:

 

 1.      Mental Simulation: The Game Within the Game

One of the best forms of mental preparation is “Visualization”. This is the process of focusing your energies into picturing processes that occur within a game and acting them out within your mind prior to competition. Professional athletes use these types of techniques to prepare themselves mentally, allowing their mind to connect with their body before a game.

I used to sit up in a dark corner of the arena before games and look out over the calm, tranquil ice surface and go through every possible game situation in my mind. I would essentially play out an entire game, shift by shift in my mind. As I pictured myself in each situation, I made sure that I was always succeeding. I was always making the right plays and coming out on top. This did two things. It boosted my confidence, and it allowed me to prepare my mind for every conceivable game situation. When the game would start and I would find myself in different situations on the ice, I had a boost because I had already played the game within my mind and knew exactly what I had to do. I always felt this gave me a split-second advantage. In hockey, a split-second is an eternity.

 

 2.      Method Preparation: You Think, Therefore You Are

 Another preparation tip for athletes is to develop a character to personify when you strap on the gear before a game. Just like how method actors get into character before they have to perform on camera, athletes can develop characters they wish to become before they step foot in an arena. This type of preparation is common in sports like football. Players often develop “alter egos” who exude swagger and bravado.

If you have a specific role on a team, this method of preparation can be used to help you emulate a specific style. As a coach, I used to help players determine the style of play they wanted to try and emulate. One player I coached was a big, power forward who had a nose for the net and wasn’t afraid to mix it up. We went on Youtube.com and found a five minute compilation of Brendan Shanahan highlights that he began watching an hour before games. Every game day, he would go into my office, close the door and watch the highlights. This helped him get into the role of “Shanny”. When he stepped on the ice for the game, he knew exactly what his role was and the expectations.

 

 3.      Mantra Development

 In hockey, each game can demand a different approach. Certain games are more physical, while others demand a more passive approach. Depending on what is expected of you each game, you can develop different mantras. When I was playing in the playoffs in 2007/08 in the ECHL, we were tangled in an emotionally charged best-of-five battle with the South Carolina Stingrays. They were our conference rivals and there was no love lost between us. The series was played entirely on the edge and you often found yourself doing things that weren’t in tune with your regular style of play (I can remember deliberately trying to hurt certain players throughout the series). The entire series was a war. To get ready for each game, I had to develop a mantra and buy into a specific mindset. For the South Carolina series, my mantra became “Warrior”.

In order to encompass the mantra of Warrior, I began listening to Metallica and Avenged Sevenfold before games. Before I left my house, I watched specific scenes from Braveheart and Gladiator and I walked around with a constant scowl. I had to shape the processes of my pre-game routine to develop a warrior’s attitude. The loser of the series was essentially dead, so everything became about surviving. It was kill or be killed. Do or die.

Eventually we lost in overtime of Game 5, ending our season. My defence partner and I achieved our task of shutting down Travis Morin’s line during the series. Morin’s line was one of the hottest lines in the ECHL that season. We held Morin to one assist in the series. We lost the series, but my mantra worked. I played my best hockey of the season in that series and everything had to do with my mental approach.

 

 4.      Fine Tune Your Focus

 Focus is all about prioritization. At any given time of the day, you might have 10 different things on your mind. You might be thinking about getting an oil change, whether this Thursday or next Thursday is pay day, what you’ll make for dinner, whether you should change your facebook profile picture, what to get your wife for her birthday later this month, or whether or not you should ask your boss for a long overdue promotion. As an athlete, when you enter the arena, your mind should immediately begin the process of prioritizing. When you walk through the dressing room doors, nothing else matters but the task at hand. At this point, it still includes a lot of components. Leading up to warm up you are focusing on matchups, systems, preparations and all the aspects incorporated in your pre-game routine. There is variety, but only one theme.

Once you step onto the ice, your focus narrows even more. Everything becomes about the moment. The past is gone. Even what you let enter your focus window becomes crucial. The human brain can only efficiently focus on two stimuli at a time. The first priority has to be what your senses are telling your body about what is happening on the ice, and in return, the reactions of your body to the stimuli. In hockey, this is called reading and reacting. The second focus priority is the communication from your team mates, helping you to make sound, split-second decisions.

Once you start letting other stimuli into that focus window, you start to lose efficiency and the potential for error increases dramatically. If you add in a screaming coach or parent, or you let taunts from opponents into your range of focus, you will experience significant drop offs in your prioritized focus areas and essentially, your overall focus. Being able to block out these other aspects is what is known as fine-tuning your focus.

This is what inexperienced coaches don’t understand. They think that coaching means being loud between the whistles, constantly screaming instructions. Effective coaching is preparing your team so that they can use the tools they have been given to read and react when the game is on. Plays happen so quickly on the ice that the brain can’t properly process what a coach is screaming from across the ice. If anything, this creates confusion and a detrimental break in focus.

 

 5.      Develop a Winning Pre Game Routine

 Hockey players are a bunch of superstitious weirdos. Superstition is the Santa Claus of hockey success and it’s part of what gives the sport its unique identity. It is the playoff beard, the rally monkey and the scraggly, unkempt hair. It’s Patrick Roy talking to his posts, Wayne Gretzky wearing blue Tuuks, and Ray Ferraro’s pre game chicken parm. But, like they say, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

In reality, superstitions are part of a routine. The routine is what creates a flow of consistency for an athlete. For some, game day routines can be comprehensive, including waking up at a certain time, eating a specific pre game meal, listening to the same songs on the way to the rink, walking into the rink via a specific path, taping your sticks a certain way, putting your gear on in a specific order and walking out to the rink in a specific order after a unique handshake with a specific team mate. Routines vary in complexity and creativeness, but they all have one thing in common—they serve the purpose of creating a feeling of security and consistency. When you are in the right frame of mind and your soul is at ease, it is easier for everything else to fall into place.

 

 

Posted in Mental Game, Tips

How Carter Rowney became a key player in the Stanley Cup playoffs for the Pittsburgh Penguins

It was the day after Carter Rowney’s wedding last August, when former UND hockey teammates Joe Gleason and Andrew MacWilliam figured out they booked their return trips home for the wrong day.

They were stuck in Kelowna, B.C., for one more night with no place to stay, because their group had vacated their rental.

Rowney heard about the dilemma.

“Why don’t you guys just stay with us in the guest house?” Rowney suggested.

It may not have been your typical day-after-the-wedding honeymoon, but Gleason and MacWilliam did just that—crashed on couches near the newlyweds like it was college all over again.

“The thing about Rowns is that he’s always been an awesome teammate, a super happy-go-lucky guy, who is always down to do whatever,” Gleason said. “I think that’s why he made it. The Coast (ECHL) and the ‘A’ (AHL) are such grinds. I think a lot of people can’t handle it. It’s too much after a while. Mentally, it’s a grind. But he’s patient enough and laid back enough to where he had fun with it and made the best of it.”

Rowney, an undrafted free agent who was never a superstar at UND, not only beat the odds and reached the NHL in his fourth professional season, he has played an unexpected, key role during a Stanley Cup playoff run for a Pittsburgh Penguins roster that’s littered with some of hockey’s biggest names.

The Penguins take a 3-2 series lead into tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m., NBC Sports).

Rowney had a lot to do with it.

In Game 4, Rowney played more than any Penguins forward outside of Sidney Crosby (and he only played 21 seconds less than Crosby), including all-stars Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel in a 3-2 victory.

Two days later in Game 5, Rowney had a game-high three assists, a game-high plus-4 rating and was named the No. 1 star in a 7-0 rout.

Suddenly, a guy who was playing for an ECHL team in West Virginia just two seasons ago is five games away from winning hockey’s ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup.

“We’re not shocked, because he’s a player who is good at everything,” said Gleason, who is one of about 20 people on a group text of former UND players, including Rowney, who talk daily. “But we’re all surprised in the sense that you look at Pittsburgh’s lineup and you see Crosby, Malkin, Kessel, you go down the line. It’s like, wow, how did Rowney fit in this picture?”

Good question.

How did this all happen?

How did Carter Rowney go from an overlooked college prospect recruited by four schools to a regular on Sidney Crosby’s team?

Landing at UND

In 2008, Mike Vandekemp called the UND coaching staff with a tip.

Vandekamp was coaching the Grande Prairie Storm in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and had a player who he felt was a North Dakota-type player.

“He was our style of player,” associate coach Dane Jackson said. “He wasn’t flashy, but he had a lot of good habits. He could protect the puck, go to the net, stop and start—he did all the things we value in guys. He was not always the prettiest or most dynamic, but he was smart defensively and could make plays. He was an older guy, so we brought him in and he fit our mold.”

Rowney was not one of the heralded recruits that year.

In 2009-10, eight rookies saw ice time. Six of the eight were drafted by NHL teams.

None of the six draft picks played in the NHL this season. Ironically, the two undrafted players were Rowney and Aaron Dell, who both did.

Rowney scored just one goal as a freshman and three as a sophomore, but managed to stay in the lineup most nights because he was so reliable.

“He’s a guy who, at times, almost didn’t know how good he was,” Jackson said. “He struggled with confidence at times and questioned himself. Everyone has different challenges. Rowns played behind Knighter (Corban Knight) quite a bit and never got all the key minutes. But he was obviously really good in his role.”

Rowney broke out as a junior, scoring 18 goals and tallying 33 points. He was fourth on the team in scoring, only behind the prolific top line of Knight, Danny Kristo and Brock Nelson. He backed that up with a 27-point senior season.

The long road

Being an undrafted player, Rowney had to take the long road to the NHL.

He signed a two-way deal with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League and the Wheeling (W. Va.) Nailers of the ECHL.

He played most of his rookie year in Wheeling, then most of his second pro season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. He played his entire third professional season in the AHL, breaking out for 56 points in 74 games.

Then, he entered his fourth professional season this fall after marrying his wife, Danielle, who he met at UND. Rowney got called up and made his NHL debut on Jan. 31.

“If you don’t make it in your first three years, it’s damn near impossible to make it, because GMs and scouts have to move on to their next draft picks, because they want to keep their jobs,” Gleason said. “If their picks don’t pan out, they are done. I’m just so happy for Rowns, because he’s getting to that point and still getting an opportunity. It speaks volumes to Pittsburgh’s organization.

“It’s really cool to have an organization that trusted a player and gave him an opportunity instead of just slotting in the next draft pick so a scout could keep his job. It happens more than you think once you go through it and see it.

“All the players talk about which organizations work well with their minor-league teams. Pittsburgh is one that really values its minor-league teams.”

During his third season in the minors, Mike Sullivan was the head coach at Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. That’s where he gained a trust level with Rowney.

Sullivan was promoted to coach the Penguins midway through last year.

“When a coach has trust in a player and knows what he can do, he has confidence in that guy,” said UND coach Brad Berry, who returned to campus for Rowney’s senior season. “Mike knew what Carter could do.”

Rowney, who became a father on May 14th, has seen his role increase during the playoffs.

Same game, different level

It’s not that his game has changed much from his time at UND.

He’s not counted on to be a big scorer for the Penguins—though he did that Sunday, too. The coaching staff just looks at him to be reliable, physical, hard to play against and kill penalties.

“He’s not going to blow you away with any one skillset,” said Gleason, who now coaches Holy Family in the Twin Cities. “But everything he does, put together, as a coach, how can you not trust him?

“At the end of the day, I don’t think his game has changed much since his freshman year at UND. Someone just recognized that he can do everything really well and he got that opportunity and he’s obviously run away with it.”

 

 

Posted in Human Interest, NCAA, NHL

Justin Kloos puts NHL dreams on hold for one last shot at national title

Justin Kloos turned down the NHL for one last chance at a national championship.

Last spring, at the end of a disappointing Gophers men’s hockey season, Justin Kloos was approached by NHL teams with offers of a fulfilled dream and a professional paycheck.

Why not sign a pro contract and forego his senior year at Minnesota?

Kloos already had been part of an NCAA title game as a freshman, already had been a captain as a junior and had experienced the frustrations of the Gophers’ first season since 2011 without an NCAA tournament berth.

“When that opportunity is staring you in the face, it’s difficult to say, ‘No, I want to come back and pass up a contract,'” Kloos said. “But I had other aspirations in mind.”

Chief among them were leaving a better legacy as a two-time captain and the hopes of returning the Gophers to the Frozen Four for the first time since his freshman season ended with a 7-4 loss to Union in the title game.

Kloos helped lead the Gophers (23-11-3) back to the single-elimination NCAA tournament, where a first-round matchup against Notre Dame (21-11-5) awaits the No. 1 seed Gophers in the East Region in Manchester, N.H., Saturday afternoon.

The Gophers need two victories to return to the Frozen Four.

“It would be awesome,” he said. “But I’m not going to say that because I came back, the pressure is on to get there. I know how difficult it is.”

That’s a newfound appreciation, one formed from a first-round NCAA tournament exit two years ago, and an absence from the tourney last season.

It wasn’t long ago that Kloos, a Lakeville, Minn., native who starred for three years at Lakeville South, thought college hockey was going to be easy.

He was the first freshman in seven years to lead the Gophers in goals (16), propelling that team to 28 wins and a national championship appearance, where Kloos scored the game’s first goal.

Kloos was sure he’d be back in the championship the following year, but the Gophers haven’t won an tournament game since.

“That’s one message I want to leave for every incoming Gopher,” Kloos said. “Everything came so easy that year, and it’s not. It’s really hard. That year, I thought if we show up and play well, no one is going to beat us. I was thinking, ‘This is what it’s going to be like every year.’ ”

Over 154 college games, Kloos has 148 points, most for a Gopher since Troy Riddle ended his career in 2004 with 178. Kloos is second on the team this season with 43 points in 37 games.

That’s hardly been a surprise to coach Don Lucia, who said he envisioned putting a ‘C’ on Kloos’ sweater even before he stepped on campus. For five years, starting when Kloos was 10, he played on the same youth team as Lucia’s youngest son, Mario.

“Justin has always been a first-class kid, even when he was young,” Lucia said. “He comes from a great family and was brought up the right way. There was no question when he came to our program that he was going to be a captain here someday.

“He’s given everything to this program, and he’s going to walk away by adding a lot of banners to the rafters and getting his degree and having an opportunity to play professionally after this — but we don’t want that to happen too soon.”

Former Collegians Involved With The Two Teams Playing For Stanley’s Cup

 

Image result for pittsburgh penguins logoPITTSBURGH PENGUINS

2 – Chad Ruhwedel – UMass Lowell (2010-13)

  • First-team All-American and first-team All-Hockey East as a junior

4 – Justin Schultz – Wisconsin (2009-12)

  • Two-time WCHA Defensive Player of the Year
  • Led all NCAA defensemen in scoring for two years in a row
  • Two-time All-American and finalist for the Hobey Baker Award

7 – Matt Cullen – St. Cloud State (1995-97)

  • Led the team in scoring both seasons
  • Teammates included Mark Parrish

8 – Brian Dumoulin – Boston College (2009-12)

  • Won NCAA championships in 2010 and 2012
  • Two-time first-team All-American and first-team All-Hockey East
  • Two-time Hockey East Best Defensive Defenseman
  • Finalist for the Hobey Baker Award as a junior
  • Teammates included Chris Kreider, Brian Gibbons, Carl Sneep, Cam Atkinson, Ben Smith, Jimmy Hayes

13 – Nick Bonino – Boston University (2007-10)

  • Won the 2009 NCAA championship
  • 2009 Beanpot MVP
  • Teammates included Colin Wilson, Matt Gilroy, Kevin Shattenkirk, Brandon Yip

14 – Chris Kunitz – Ferris State (1999-2003)

  • The 2002-03 CCHA Player of the Year and a finalist for the 2003 Hobey Baker Award
  • First-team All-American in 2003
  • Holds Ferris State records for career GWG (19) and points in a season (79 in 2002-03)

17 – Bryan Rust – Notre Dame (2010-14)

23 – Scott Wilson – UMass Lowell (2011-14)

  • Named to the Hockey East All-Tournament Team in 2013
  • Hockey East Rookie of the Year and honorable mention All-Hockey East as a freshman
  • Named to the Hockey East All-Rookie Team; five-time Hockey East Rookie of the Week

28 – Ian Cole – Notre Dame (2007-10)

  • First-team All-American in 2009
  • Teammates included Erik Condra, Ryan Thang, Kyle Palmieri

37 – Carter Rowney – North Dakota (2009-13)

  • Teammates included Drake Caggiula, Derek Forbort, Brock Nelson, Dillon Simpson, Chris VandeVelde, Brad Malone

43 – Conor Sheary – Massachusetts (2010-14)

  • Led the team in scoring as a senior, when he was team captain

45 – Josh Archibald – Nebraska-Omaha (2011-14)

  • NCHC Player of the Year and Forward of the Year
  • First-team All-America selection
  • First-team All-NCHC selection and a Hobey Baker Award finalist
  • Set UNO single-season record for goals in a season this year
  • Led WCHA in conference goals in 2013 and NCHC in 2014
  • Teammates included Jake Guentzel, Andrej Sustr

59 – Jake Guentzel – Nebraska Omaha (2013-16)

  • Second-team All-NCHC as a junior
  • Honorable mention All-NCHC selection as a sophomore
  • NCHC All-Rookie Team selection
  • Teammates included Josh Archibald

62 – Carl Hagelin – Michigan (2007-11)

  • The CCHA’s Best Defensive Forward in 2011
  • 2011 Second-team All-American
  • Teammates included Kevin Porter, Chris Summers, Max Pacioretty, Steve Kampfer, Aaron Palushaj, Chad Kolarik

65 – Ron Hainsey – UMass Lowell (1999-2001)

  • Second-team All-American in 2001

81 – Phil Kessel – Minnesota (2006-07)

  • 2006 WCHA Rookie of the Year
  • Teammates included Alex Goligoski, Blake Wheeler

 

Button-Ad-2017-CHAFindOutMoreFront Office

Assistant General Manager Bill Guerin – Boston College (1989-91)
VP of Hockey Operations Jason Karmanos – Harvard (1992-96)
Head Coach Mike Sullivan – Boston University (1986-90)
Goaltending Coach Mike Bales – Ohio State (1989-92)
Goaltending Development Coach Mike Buckley – Massachusetts (1996-2000)
Director, Amateur Scouting Randy Sexton – St. Lawrence (1978-82)
Pro Scout Al Santilli – Curry (1988-92)
Amateur Scout Scott Bell – Minnesota (1990-95)
Amateur Scout Jay Heinbuck – Northeastern (1982-86)
Amateur Scout Warren Young – Michigan Tech (1975-79)
AHL Head Coach Clark Donatelli – Boston University (1984-87)
AHL Assistant Coach J.D. Forrest – Boston College (2000-04)

 

In the Minors

Teddy Blueger – Minnesota State (2012-16)

  • First-team All-WCHA as a senior

Sean Maguire – Boston University (2012-16)

11 – Kevin Porter – Michigan (2004-08)

  • 2008 Hobey Baker Memorial Award winner; CCHA Player of the Year and first-team All-American as well
  • Teammates included Carl Hagelin, Jack Johnson, Andrew Cogliano, Eric Nystrom, Andrew Ebbett, Al Montoya, Chad Kolarik, Chris Summers, Steve Kampfer, Mike Brown

Ethan Prow – St. Cloud State (2012-16)

  • First-team All-American and a Hobey Baker finalist as a senior
  • NCHC Player of the Year, Defenseman of the Year, Offensive Defenseman of the Year and first-team all-conference selection

47 – David Warsofsky – Boston University (2008-11)

  • Won the 2009 NCAA championship
  • Teammates included Nick Bonino, Colin Wilson, Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt Gilroy

 

College Draft Picks

Anthony Angello – So., F, Cornell – 5th (145), 2014

Dane Birks – So., D, Michigan Tech – 6th (164), 2013

Kasper Bjorkqvist – Fr., F, providence – 2nd (61), 2016

Blaine Byron – Sr., F, Maine – 6th (179), 2013

Ryan Jones – Fr., D, Omaha – 4th (121), 2016

Troy Josephs – Sr., F, Clarkson – 7th (209), 2013

Sam Lafferty – Jr., F, Brown – 4th (113), 2014

  • Second-team All-Ivy League as a junior

Joseph Masonius – So., D, Connecticut – 6th (181), 2016

Nikita Pavlychev – Fr., F, Penn State – 7th (197), 2015

Jeff Taylor – Sr., D, Union – 7th (203), 2014

  • Third-team All-ECAC Hockey selection as a sophomore
  • Won the 2014 NCAA championship

Frederik Tiffels – Jr., F, Western Michigan – 6th (167), 2015

 

 

Image result for nashville predatorsNASHVILLE PREDATORS

Former Collegians

2 – Anthony Bitetto – Northeastern (2010-12)

15 – Craig Smith – Wisconsin (2009-11)

  • Teammates included Blake Geoffrion, Brendan Smith, Derek Stepan, Ryan McDonagh, Jake Gardiner

24 – Brad Hunt – Bemidji State (2008-12)

  • Bemidji State’s all-time career scoring leader among defensemen
  • Two-time first-team All-College Hockey America before Bemidji State joined the WCHA his junior year
  • CHA Rookie of the Year in 2009
  • Helped lead the Beavers to the 2009 Frozen Four as a freshman
  • Teammates included Matt Read

33 – Colin Wilson – Boston University (2007-09)

  • Won the 2009 NCAA championship at Washington, D.C.’s Verizon Center in his final college game
  • A finalist for the 2009 Hobey Baker Award won by teammate Matt Gilroy
  • First-team All-American in 2009 when he ranked second nationally in scoring (55 points in 43 GP)
  • Hockey East Rookie of the Year in 2008
  • Teammates included Kevin Shattenkirk, Brandon Yip, Matt Gilroy, Nick Bonino

41 – Harry Zolnierczyk – Brown (2007-11)

  • Team captain as a senior
  • Teammates included Ryan Garbutt, Aaron Volpatti
  • Scored one goal his first two seasons combined; had 29 his last two years combined
  • Set Brown’s single-season penalty minute record with 128 as a senior

52 – Matt Irwin – Massachusetts (2008-10)

  • Teammates included Justin Braun, Casey Wellman

Front Office

President of Hockey Operations David Poile – Northeastern (1967-70)
Assistant General Manager Paul Fenton – Boston University (1978-82)
Director of Hockey Operations Brian Poile – Boston College (1996-97)
Chief Amateur Scout Jeff Kealty – Boston University (1994-98)
Amateur Scout Tom Nolan – New Hampshire (1993-98)
Pro Scout Rob Cowie – Northeastern (1987-91)
Pro Scout Shawn Dineen – Denver (1978-81)
Head Coach Peter Laviolette – Westfield State (1982-86)

 

In the Minors

Jack Dougherty – Wisconsin (2014-15)

Trevor Smith – New Hampshire (2005-07)

  • First-team All-Hockey East and second-team All-American in 2007
  • Teammates included Bobby Butler, Daniel Winnik

 

Button-Ad-2017-CHAFindOutMoreCollege Draft Picks

Dante Fabbro – Fr., D, Boston University – 1st (17), 2016

Patrick Harper – Fr., F, Boston University – 5th (138), 2016

Teemu Kivihalme – Jr., D, Colorado College – 5th (140), 2013

Tyler Moy – Sr., F, Harvard – 6th (175), 2015

  • Honorable mention All-Ivy League as a senior

Tommy Novak – So., F, Minnesota – 3rd (85), 2015

Rem Pitlick – Fr., F, Minnesota – 3rd (76), 2016

  • Big Ten All-Freshman Team

Adam Smith – So., D, Bowling Green – 7th (198), 2016

Zach Stepan – Sr., F, Minnesota State – 4th (112), 2012