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Welcome To August’s Newsletter

 

portraitSuitcoat100We recently spoke with one of our clients (a 1996 born player)) who is just about to begin his NCAA D-1 college hockey career this Fall.

As a 16 year old, this young man, was drafted very high in one of the major junior leagues of the Canadian Hockey League.

Shortly after being drafted in the CHL, we met with he and his family, and spoke of his options.

He chose the “path less traveled“, making him unique from the other players in the area which he grew up playing hockey with.

In doing so, he was in constant conflict with “his ego”, and had to put aside the opinions of many of his friends, family and teammates.

Over the past 4 years, he has experienced much pressure to join the CHL team which had drafted him. This pressure came from coaches, players, friends, and family.

He resisted the temptation…. Now, the reward.

JohnPortrait100During our most recent conversation, we asked him, “Of all the friends, who you grew up playing hockey with…., who played at least 1 game in the CHL (including an exhibition game)….., how many will be playing during the upcoming season?” His response “only one or two are still playing”.

We then asked him, “As a percentage. of the friends, who you grew up with playing hockey and who had chosen to step on the ice to play a game of major junior hockey [(including exhibition games) which is one of the many reasons that can cause a player to lose their NCAA Eligibility], how many will be attending college or university this Fall? His response was. “Maybe 10-20%”.

Just a few years ago, many of those players were highly regarded, elite-level hockey players.

Over the years. most of those other players had made some costly mistakes that ultimately shortened their hockey careers….., and prevented them from later being able to go to university.

Many of his friends’ hockey careers have now come to an end, while our client’s career is really just beginning to get “revved up”.

Bradley1 With NameHe was able to develop the fine points of his game at Junior “A” (which is where 90% of his friends ended up playing as well, after extinguishing their NCAA Eligibility) , and now he will will have 4 more years to take his game to the next level, while earning a earning a degree on a full scholarship (value approaching $400,000).

According to the latest stats, 32% of all players in the NHL played NCAA hockey, and so his chances of playing professional hockey following his college hockey days, are pretty good, if he wishes.

During our time working with  this client, we have helped him make strategic decisions that ultimately led him to earn a scholarship and continue his hockey career in the NCAA.

Our staff at Hockey Family Advisor, have the experience and expertise in guiding and advising clients in making the right decisions.

We have a strong network of hockey coaches and recruiters throughout North America, that enables us to place our players in the “right programs”, and help them make proper strategic plans, where they can achieve tremendous success, while they work towards reaching their academic and academic dreams.

Over the past 15-20 years, we have met tens of thousands of hockey players.

After explaining that we help players make strategic decisions, and promote them, to enable them to eventually play NCAA College Hockey, we have heard hundreds of present and former CHL players say, “If I had to do it all over again, that’s what I’d do….”.

We have never (not even once) heard a player who chose the NCAA Route, say the same.

LastMinuteKeep all your options open, for as long as you can.

Keep in mind, that “it is likely the things that you do not know, that you do not know“, that will likely prevent you from possibly leveraging your hockey skills to be able to help pay for an education.

It’s what we do for a living, and we can put our experience for work for you. We do it full-time everyday.

We have helped hundreds of players achieve their academic and athletic goals.

Most families only get one chance to travel this path once (if they are lucky). We recommend that you get it right the first time.

If you think that we can help you make great athletic and life decisions, please do not hesitate to contact us by clicking here.

Sincerely,

David, John and Brad

 

Posted in Newsletter

Irreplaceable – Jill Saulnier, Canadian National Team

The Canadian women’s national team is currently hosting its boot camp in Fredericton, New Brunswick. Management and coaching staff are in the process of determining which players will represent their country when the PyeongChang Winter Olympics get underway this coming February. For forward Jill Saulnier, making this team is what it is all about – a goal of hers that has been in the making since childhood.

“We are in our first phase leading into the Olympics,” she says. “Trying to make the team and experience the dream of wearing the maple leaf for my country at the Olympics is my number one goal right now.

Jill Saulnier (Photo Credit: Hockey Canada Images)

Saulnier grew up in Halifax, Nova Scotia – the provincial capital known for its maritime history. Just over a four-hour drive between there and Fredericton, Team Canada’s boot camp is keeping her close to her own stomping grounds.

“I started playing hockey around five. My younger brother played, so Dad always made the rink in the backyard. He had a stick in his hands first, and of course I wanted to copy him. So I ended up with one in mine, and I’ve never let it go.”

“Halifax, Nova Scotia is not a big place, and I never really dreamed of even leaving the province, let alone seeing the world with some of the best hockey players in the entire world,” she continued. “I am very, very humbled to be a part of this group of players.”

 

Team Atlantic

Nova Scotia is one of Canada’s provinces that lay along the Atlantic Ocean. For over two decades now, this region of the country has hosted the Atlantic Challenge Cup – a tournament that features the best young players from the provinces of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. Saulnier’s skill at the youth level was apparent as she won gold medals in 2003, 2005 and 2007, as well as silvers in 2006 and 2008. These successes would lead Saulnier to make Team Atlantic – a team composed of players solely from this region – where she competed in the National U18 Championship. She even captained the squad herself in 2008.

 

The Big Red

In 2011 Saulnier would come stateside to play college hockey at Cornell University in New York State.

“I had wanted to challenge myself academically. School was of huge importance to me through high school. So that was a main focus for me, and of course athletically too. They had a great program, they had a great history, and they had great girls that were playing and coaches as well. That looked like the best balance for me. I chose that route and had a great time there.”

Saulnier averaged over a point and a half per game during her college career at Cornell (Darl Zehr/Cornell Athletics).

Just looking at statistics alone, Saulnier’s career at Cornell University is enough to blow most fans away. A staggering 195 points (80 goals, 115 assists) in 125 games for the Big Red. Not surprisingly, her collegiate career plus/minus is a plus-107. Her junior season in which she scored 28 goals and 28 assists for 56 points in a mere 34 games is particularly remarkable. But when Saulnier thinks back on her college career, statistics fall to the wayside.

“I would say the same thing to most everybody – the people that I met (at Cornell) are what mean most to me. A number is just a number; that only means so much to someone in a group. At the end of the day, the people that I met are still my best friends today. I live with Rebecca Johnston out in Calgary. Brianne Jenner is my roommate here (national team boot camp) and is a best friend of mine. It is a best circle of friends that you gain from sport that is definitely irreplaceable for sure.”

 

Calgary Inferno

Upon completing her college career, Saulnier headed out to western Canada where she would play with arguably the best collection of female hockey players in the world in the CWHL. Signing with the Calgary Inferno, she found success almost right from the get-go.

Jill Saulnier exudes great integrity and character (Photo Credit: Hockey Canada Images)

“I knew that I wanted to go play in the CWHL. That is where such amazing hockey players were, and I wanted to continue my career with the national team as well. To achieve that goal and an Olympic dream, I had to keep playing in a challenging environment. Calgary seemed to have a great coaching staff, organization and players. Friends of mine had been there as well. So I was really attracted to Calgary initially and have ended up there for the past two years. It’s been great!”

 

Clarkson Cup Champion

Great could even be considered an understatement when it comes to Saulnier’s time with the Inferno. In her first season alone, she averaged a point per game by tallying 12 goals and 10 assists for 22 points in 22 games during the regular season. More importantly, Saulnier appeared in all three of the Inferno’s playoff games that 2015-16 season, scoring a goal and three assists, as Calgary captured the Clarkson Cup.  Not many CWHL players get their name inscribed on the Cup their first year in the league and to have it be housed in the Hockey Hall of Fame for all of time.

“To be on a team that has experienced that kind of emotion and that excitement in female hockey was definitely exciting for me. But also to be able to have [my name] in the Hockey Hall of Fame on that Cup is really special and definitely not something that you can say you get to do everyday. Definitely a moment that I’ll cherish forever.”

For some people, finding success so early on and at such a high level could perhaps get to one’s head. Saulnier is just the opposite. She keeps the experience in perspective and stays true to her own character. Recognizing the need to roll with any punches thrown her way and not lose any focus.

Saulnier’s Character

“Just enjoying the game. Working hard. Not taking advantage. I have been on both ends of the stick. Whether it be on a team, off a team. Experiencing those highlight moments, whether it be Calgary or on the national team. Just working hard to try to accomplish that goal and be a part of something special is something that I strive to do everyday, and hopefully will lead me to my dream for sure.”

You cannot help but be enamored with Saulnier’s sense of humility and how down-to-earth she is. Skill level alone should be enough for her to make the Canadian Olympic team. But add Saulnier’s character and her level of integrity into the mix and you are left with the type of player that any coach would want on their bench and any teammate would want by their side.

 

The Women’s Game

“Looking at where I came from, the amount of girls playing in Nova Scotia has multiplied by ten since the time I’ve been there. It is evident that female hockey is growing. You can see it in the competition that Canada always has against the U.S., and also the other countries that have been developing rapidly and putting forth very talented teams. Female hockey is growing and as much as we are ‘enemies’ with all these other countries, at the end of the day we want to prove to the world how strong and how developed female hockey is. To see the sport continuing to grow is a huge, huge priority for us, especially in Canada as females on the national team.”

Saulnier is a vital cog in the wheel that grows the game of women’s hockey, and most assuredly as a member of Team Canada. We are truly looking forward to seeing her take to the ice in PyeongChang wearing a maple leaf crest.

 

Habs’ camp: College degree first, then pro hockey for N.D.G. native Lewis Zerter-Gossage

Zerter-Gossage, who grew up in N.D.G., recently completed his sophomore year at Harvard and plans to pick up his economics degree before concentrating on a pro career. 

By Pat Hickey, Montreal Gazette


Lewis Zerter-Gossage moves the puck up the ice during the Montreal Canadiens development camp at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard on Monday, July 3, 2017.Peter McCabe / Montreal Gazette

Like many red-blooded Canadians, Lewis Zerter-Gossage would like to play in the NHL.

But Zerter-Gossage, who grew up in N.D.G., recently completed his sophomore year at Harvard and plans to pick up his economics degree before concentrating on a pro career.

“I think it’s important to finish school and then see what happens,” said Zerter-Gossage during a break in the Canadiens’ development camp on Tuesday. “It’s good to have that degree to fall back on.”

Zerter-Gossage played midget AAA hockey but spurned the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and played two years at the Kent School in Connecticut and one year with Penticton in the BCHL.

“I was offered a 50-per-cent scholarship at Vermont, but then Harvard showed some interest and I couldn’t turn that down,” Zerter-Gossage said. “The hockey team wasn’t that good when I committed, but we became good.”

Harvard reached the Frozen Four last season, losing 3-1 to Minnesota-Duluth. The 6-foot-2, 196-pound Zerter-Gossage was a solid contributor with 11 goals and 14 assists in 36 games.

Harvard doesn’t offer athletic scholarships, but does offer need-based grants.

“My parents and I are splitting the cost, and I hope I can pay them back,” Zerter-Gossage said.

Harvard has sent such players to the NHL as current Crimson coach Ted Donato, Don Sweeney, Dominic Moore, Jimmy Vesey and Lac St. Louis products Alex Killorn and Alex Biega. And if hockey doesn’t work out, Zerter-Gossage can always put his degree to good use in the business world like former Harvard player Phil Falcone did. The former hedge-fund boss is worth US$1.2 billion and owns a piece of the Minnesota Wild.

U.S. college players are having a greater impact on the NHL. This past season, more than 30 per cent of the players in the NHL had played college hockey. Fifteen of the 42 players at the Canadiens’ camp are college players, including first-round draft Ryan Poehling from St. Cloud State and 2014 draft pick Jake Evans, who helped Notre Dame reach the Frozen Four this year.

Most of the college players are here on tryouts, and they are required to pay their own way to maintain their NCAA eligibility.

The group includes Vancouver native Jarid Lukosevicius, who was the MVP in the Frozen Four after scoring all three goals in Denver’s 3-2 win over Minnesota-Duluth in the final. He has two more years at Denver and is hoping to make a good impression at the camp.

“I was small, about 5-foot, when the WHL draft was held, but I was always thinking college,” Lukosevicius said.

Defenceman Brinson Pasichnuk plays for the newest NCAA program at Arizona State and was invited to the camp after he was passed over in the draft.

“I was going to Vermont, but I wanted to play with my older brother (Steenn) and there was no room for him there,” Pasichnuk said. “Arizona State wanted us both and I’m excited to be there. I’m from smalltown Alberta (Bonnyville), and it’s exciting to be in a big city. I’m a proud Canadian, but I could see settling there.”

Pasichnuk said Arizona State takes inspiration from Penn State, which reached the No. 1 ranking last season in only its fifth year of Division I play.

“We think we can do it even quicker,” Pasichnuk said. “We were a first-year team, but we had wins over (top-20 teams) Air Force and Quinnipiac.”

They also tied Western Michigan and Ohio State.

Jordan Boucher won’t be heading back to school. The forward from Blainville completed his business degree at Clarkson University and is looking for a pro contract. He played nine games with Binghampton after his college season and said it gave him a head start on a pro career. He will probably get an invitation to the Canadiens’ rookie camp in September.

Boucher has scored in each of the last two scrimmages. Tuesday’s session ended in a 4-4 tie. Joni Ikonen scored twice for the Reds with Boucher and James McEwan adding singles. Evans scored twice for Team White, which also had goals from Josh Brook and St. Cloud’s Robby Jackson.

 

Posted in Academics, NCAA, NHL, Options

Understanding the importance of diet

 

The human body is composed of water, bones, muscles and fat. The proper and perfect balance of all these components will give an athlete the edge when playing his game. If you are not at the right weight your performance will suffer.

Sushil Kumar with the bronze medal he won in the 66kg freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Sushil had a natural fighting weight of 72kg but wanted to spar in the 66kg category. “We worked on his body weight, that is, his muscles and fat percentage. We focused mostly on fat loss over 19 days prior to the Olympics,” says the columnist who helped the Indian wrestler to stay in shape for the bouts.   –  AP

Every athlete needs the perfect bodyweight to perfect his game. The human body is composed of water, bones, muscles and fat. The proper and perfect balance of all these components will give an athlete the edge when playing his game. If you are not at the right weight your performance will suffer.

I have seen athletes lose out in selections because of their heavier, pudgier look. As a nutrition coach I am constantly looking to enhance the performance of the sportsperson by trying to enable the best muscle-to-fat ratio in the body. Too much fat is like carrying a heavy boulder; it affects speed, agility and endurance. Only in the case of a sumo wrestler fat is useful in terms of weight.

Take sport such as boxing, wrestling, judo and karate, which are dependent on weight category, and even sport like cricket, hockey, football, tennis, squash and every other competition, they need an athlete to push the body which actually requires more muscle and less fat.

As I evaluate teenage athletes, I notice one startling fact. All sport, all ages and all genders will focus on equipment, coaching and trainers, but when it comes to food, everybody slacks off on the meals or nutrition.

Everything for an athlete is so strict and disciplined. From waking up to multiple sessions and then having no social life, there is so much rigid structure. Food is the only way to escape — to allow the body to relax, to allow cheating from a very disciplined life.

This has to change. If you want a better muscle and fat structure that ensures you can have the highest level of performance, day in and day out, you need to really get disciplined with food, right from the moment you open your eyes to the end of the day when your tired body hits the bed.

 

Here are the reasons why you gain more fat, which slows you down as an athlete:

1. You eat too much food.

2. You eat at the wrong time.

3. You eat the wrong food.

4. You don’t eat at all, and your calorie-burn does not match your intake and so you set off the body’s alarm clock — release a hormone called cortisol that says, let’s store more fat from each little meal you take as you are now in starvation mode.

5. Your vitamins and minerals are deficient, making you sluggish and altering your metabolism.

6. You think you are getting enough protein. Are you, or are you not? Who told you or calculated your protein requirement? And are you sticking to it on a daily basis?

7. You have a genetic or hormonal or metabolic issue. You hope that exercise may solve it in the long run.

8. You sleep too little. Ideal time is eight hours-plus for a sportsperson. Afternoon naps are advisable for recovery.

The best way to lose fat is to first not allow it to accumulate in your body. The next is to ensure you utilise your exercise to help you cut into that flab and use that as an alternate battery for your energy. Your primary battery is glucose.

 

There are some quick tips to ensure that you get to your perfect body weight.

1. Ensure that your protein is approximately 1-1.5 grams per kg of your body weight. Now split that requirement into six solid meals over the day. Approximately 15-20 grams per meal.

2. Ensure that after any training session of more than one hour, you get 20 grams of protein along with 80-100 grams of carbohydrates post workout. Chocolate milkshake with a sandwich, or an oats porridge with lots of dry fruits and some cheese or egg.

3. As soon as you wake up, you consume a solid meal to ensure you start your day as a sportsperson fully charged.

4. Hydrate well. Less water means a sluggish metabolism. A player in any sport in India should get 100ml per kg of their body weight per day. This means food, water, juices and any beverage, inclusive of water.

5. Get a blood test done to see that your liver, kidney, haemoglobin and micro minerals, and vitamins levels are in check.

 

Sushil Kumar and the Olympic bronze at Beijing 2008

Sushil Kumar had a natural fighting weight of 72kg. For the Beijing Olympics he wanted to spar in the 66kg category. Now normally most athletes resort to extreme dehydration, low calorie diet, wearing raincoats and running in the sun, and eating food so little that even a bird may not survive on. It’s easy to lose 5-6kg this way.

Post the weigh-in, the athletes rapidly rehydrate and eat to gain back strength in under 12-18 hours before they compete.

With Sushil, I changed the mantra of weight loss via the dehydration and starvation method. We worked on his body weight, that is, his muscles and fat percentage.

We focused mostly on fat loss over 19 days prior to the Olympics. His entire portion of eating was reduced to near basal metabolic rate whilst keeping his protein high to preserve muscle. In the end, Sushil weighed exactly 66kg that day.

He then went on to gain weight through the night, as we rapidly recharged his muscle glycogen with high-carb foods.

That evening he went on to win a bronze medal and thus started his tryst with sports nutrition.

Ever noticed that Sushil was one of the first wrestlers to have a six-pack?

Whilst wrestling akhadas across the country propagate ghee, I was met with much resistance from other wrestlers. Sushil, having been to Cuba and trained there, understood the importance of diet. From there on, there was no looking back, and he won a silver medal at the London Olympics in 2012.

If there is one direction I can give any athlete, it is: ‘Eat with a plan, eat with discipline and eat scientifically, not culturally!’

 

The writer is an award-winning celebrity sports nutrition coach & Chief Nutritionist at Qua Nutrition Signature Clinics.

 

The Word on Coaching: Penn State’s Guy Gadowsky on ‘Environment’

by Mike Poorman 

 

The locker room environment is what makes the Penn State men’s ice hockey team so good. Coach Guy Gadowsky says so.

But, the environments — plural — also have a good bit to do with it.

There’s an athletic department that consistently ranks near the top of the Director’s Cup standings.

Which oversees the $88 million ice arena that is unmatched in American collegiate sports.

Which houses a crazy fan base that has made Hockey Valley not just a location but also an attitude.

Which cheers for a varsity program that in six very quick seasons under Gadowsky — and assistants Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay, he is quick to point out — went from a club program to a mid-season No. 1 ranking in all of college hockey to a Big Ten championship to a first-round victory in PSU’s first-ever appearance in the NCAA tournament to a 25-12-2 record.

It’s kind of like one of those Russian nesting dolls.

And Gadowksy, being of Ukrainian descent, knows all about those. They’re called matryoshka dolls — those small wooden dolls that come apart, top and bottom, to reveal another doll inside. And then, in DJ Khaled fashion, another one and another one. All very similar, often of the same family.

In fact, last season Nittany Lion hockey star Dennis Smirnov brought back a matryoshka from his native Russia as a gift for hockey office manager Nancy Doyle.

The symbolism can be stunning. For while Gadowsky deserves the Nittany Lion’s share of the credit for creating a winning and first-rate environment — his “word,” by the way — the other pieces helped create a 2016-2017 hockey season that was a joy to behold as it unfolded, treasure by treasure.

Of course, at its core was Gadowsky and his assistants and the players themselves. And the core of their existence is Gadowsky’s philosophy of working hard while having fun. It is a teaching principal that he learned from his grandmother and father, both of whom were teachers for decades and decades.

It is one Gadowsky has had from his days at a coach at Alaska-Anchorage and then Princeton, where he took the downtrodden Tigers to two NCAA tournaments and was named national coach of the year. And it remains at the heart of his Penn State program today.

THE SERIES

The following interview with Gadowsky is Part 4 of our “The Word on Coaching” series, in which Penn State’s athletics director and a half-dozen of PSU’s most successful current head coaches discuss their philosophy on athletics and life, summarized in a singular word of his or her choosing. The line-up:

Sandy Barbour, Director of Athletics  — “Why?”

Russ Rose, Women’s Volleyball — “Commitment”

Char Morett-Curtiss, Field Hockey — “Heart”

 

GADOWSKY AND HIS ONE WORD

SC.com: What’s your word?

Gadowsky: Environment.

It’s the environment that really helps you get a good culture. Culture is a big word for us, and that’s what you’re committed to, what’s your work ethic to do that. But environment is different.

One of the things our staff has been trying to do for a long time, starting at Princeton, is to create an environment that is really comfortable. We want to create an environment that is enjoyable in the locker room and the arena, that people want to come and be a part of — they can’t wait to get on the ice, no matter how hard their classes are that day, no matter what they think is going to happen at practice.

SC.com: How do you create that environment? And then teach, coach, live in that environment?

Gadowsky: It’s a lot of conversations, it’s a lot of talking about how the environment is. It fits our staff. Keith Fisher and Matt Lindsay do a great job with that. It’s something that we were very conscious of at Princeton and it transferred over to here. It starts with the leadership of the team, making sure it is not a hierarchy. It’s everybody together. It’s not [in a bossy voice], “Freshmen, pick up the garbage. Freshmen, go get my luggage.” It’s everybody.

It’s more of a badge of honor for the upperclassmen to do the little work things that people deem the newbies should be doing. We don’t have that. It’s creating that environment. Every player on the team knows what the staff means when we say, “Enjoy what you do.” And it’s regardless of the situation, whether they know they are really going to get crushed in the weight room or they know we are going to have a really tough cardio day on the ice or if they have to pull an all-nighter studying but we have a tough practice in the morning. They know it’s almost a privilege in a situation where it’s like, “Oh my, I have to get all this done.”

SC.com: Is that portable? Was it easy to bring with you from Princeton?

Gadowsky: It is portable, but you can’t [snaps fingers], make it happen in a few months. This is something that builds. You build a foundation where your environment is very inviting, it’s something your guys want to be a part of, to put the work in get the results at a high level.

A big challenge to making that happen is consistency. A lot of times, it’s easy to allow distractions make you think and act negatively. You have to block all of that out. You control your environment. That goes both ways. Sometimes, the outside world is going to tell you how bad you are and sometimes the outside world is going to tell you how great you are. You have to continually make sure that your environment is consistent.

We still need to work on that. We had not dealt with the spotlight like we had to this past year, when we were ranked No. 1. And then on top of that, it came at a place like Penn State. James Franklin was extremely helpful to me in that regard, so were some other hockey coaches in the conference who have been through it.

SC.com: How consistent have you been in your approach?

Gadowsky: The staff has been doing this for 10 years. You do things, and then at the end of the year you evaluate how they work. This is 10 years of evaluating, changing and tinkering to make sure. They know we are going to work hard, but they have to enjoy it. You can’t just say, “This is the way it’s going to be — go at it.” It takes months and years. The environment builds a culture.

We evaluate what we’re doing and where we’re going several times a week. We know how important our environment is. We always question ourselves about that. Constantly. All the time. Constantly. We meet all the time. We make decisions as a staff based on what we want our end product to be. We know what we want. We’ve had a lot of experience about how to get there. And we also know what doesn’t work.

It’s especially true that the generation today is very different than when I started 18 years ago in Alaska. But the vision of what we need hasn’t changed. It’s just how we get there that we’ve had to recalculate at times.

You have to look at your systems and your staff and your analytics and things like that. But the basic foundation, when the players know that despite everything going on — with their family and their classes and their girlfriends and their body and injuries — we still want them to come to the rink and go, “Whew, I’m here. Let’s do it.”

SC.com: Where did this vision and philosophy come from?

Gadwowsky: My whole family was teachers. Everybody. Grandmother, sisters, dad. I consider myself one as well.

One of the things that affected me a lot was in junior high and then in high school, and even when I came back home after college, I can’t tell you how often that when people found out my last name, they said, “Are you related to Mr. Gadowsky? He was my favorite teacher of all time.” I’d ask why they thought so, and they’d say, “He was fun. He really made learning fun.” That’s probably where it came from.

That fits into what our staff tries to do, too, which is prepare everyone for life. And if you talk with (athletic director) Sandy Barbour, her main mission is to prepare our students for a lifetime of impact. Which is pretty much the same thing we’ve been saying for years. Our values are congruent.

For our staff, that means preparation for success in life — for several of the players that’s going to include hockey. For others, it’s not. The same values and what we’re committed to and how you go about things and how you set your foundation and learn those habits is going to be transferrable to life, whether it’s in the private sector, academics or athletics or your private life.

SC.com: How did you plug your environment into the Penn State environment?

Gadowsky: That’s what has been really nice about this. The values at Princeton were very transferable to the values at Penn State. With that, Penn State also has incredible passion. So it’s easier to do what we do here, to have a blast with it. It’s awesome here. I think Penn State aids us in making the staff’s philosophy happen.

But there’s also that environment in the locker room. Or in the weight room, when you are busting your butt when no one is there watching you early in the morning. Or it’s Tuesday afternoon’s practice and you’ve been up studying for a test, but we have a really hard practice scheduled. How do you approach that? That’s the environment I’m talking about.

SC.com: You built a winning environment at Penn State very quickly. How?

Gadowsky: That’s Penn State. We never said we wanted to win this many games. We just wanted to improve and create this environment. We never said for us to be successful we had to win this or win that. We think success is a by-product.

After this season, I think it’s natural to think “results.” That’s going to be new for us. The expectations? That’s Penn State. That’s why student-athletes and coaches and administrators come to Penn State, because you want to be part of something where expectations are where this athletic department is at right now. It’s not us — maybe it’s the environment of Penn State that is creating those expectations.

SC.com: The Hockey Valley environment is another layer to it. The support and interest, combined with Pegula, have been almost incredible. What’s that environment like?

Gadwosky: That’s not us. That’s Penn State, trust me. We are along for the ride. The atmosphere…you talk about environment. Specifically, the student body deserves the bulk of that credit. Obviously, there’s Mr. and Mrs. Pegula and the people in the administration, who have done a lot to make this possible. But when it was put together, it was the Penn State students who made this Hockey Valley. Seeing a game at Pegula is awesome. Just awesome.

It’s a pretty good marriage between our players and the atmosphere and what the student body has created, this Hockey Valley. It’s not only fun and awesome, it’s motivating. There is nothing we can say as coaches to motivate our guys as much as those thousands of kids singing and pounding on the glass. I wish we had that power. I wish we were that good.

SC.com: Where does Pegula — the actual building itself— fit into your idea of “environment”?

Gadowsky: That’s a great analogy. The environment of this building is one of fun and excitement and doing things the right way, to have a blast. It is the most fun arena I’ve ever been in. To play a hockey game, to coach a hockey game, to watch a hockey game.

I think it fits very well with what we are trying to do with our team in our locker room. It fits together perfectly. Maybe that’s why the results have been better and we’ve been more successful a lot quicker than we would have thought. On a Tuesday morning, when you’re doing hard cardio, it’s easier to get up and do well at it. You’re already thinking ahead to the weekend and are motivated to prepare the best you can for that. You want to be a part of that environment.

Sleep might be the next performance‑enhancer

 

By: Bob Kowalski 

Sleep might be the next performance‑enhancer

 

Athletes constantly try to find any edge — using technology, nutrition, training and sometimes chemistry to get a step ahead of their competition. The newest performance-enhancer might be the oldest: sleep.

Researchers in the United Kingdom studied elite athletes and their sleep patterns, determining that as many as half of them suffered from insomnia or insufficient sleep, Reuters reported. Athletic performance can be affected, and anxiety over lost sleep further inhibits the athletes, the researchers found.

We already know the general health benefits of sleep. We’ve reported on America’s sleep deficiency, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) terms a “public health problem.” We also explored some of the solutions to the problem.

It’s difficult enough to get through a work day with poor sleep. Consider professional athletes or high-performing amateurs who aim to excel but are hindered by sleep issues. It’s not as though they can “go through the motions” when their competitors are at peak.

For some of those amateurs, their future might depend on those results. That’s why colleges are starting to pay particular attention to how their athletes sleep. At West Virginia University, a device called WHOOP is helping the athletic department monitor athletes, from heart rate to sleep.

Mountaineers offensive lineman Kyle Bosch told the Exponent-Telegram newspaper that the football team, even though it had reservations early, has embraced the scrutiny.

“We’re all committed to trying to win the Big 12, to trying make it to the College Football Playoff, so were all taking this offseason very seriously,” he said, “monitoring everything we do, everything we eat and every time we fall asleep.”

West Virginia isn’t alone among colleges with an interest in athletes’ sleep. At the University of Arizona College of Medicine, researchers worked on a solution to poor sleep. Through the schools’ Project REST (Recovery Enhancement and Sleep Training), athletes were given Fitbits over 10 weeks, tracking sleep habits in diaries, Futurity reported. As a result, more than 80 percent of the participants noted improved sleep, and almost 90 percent attributed improved athletic performance to the study, Futurity stated.

Fitness monitors measure a wide range of activities, recording steps, calories burned and other data. But WHOOP is taking that in a new direction, calculating recovery time and exertion in real time, SportTechie reported.

Company CEO Will Ahmed envisions a future where fans can follow recovery the same as yards-per-catch or free-throw percentage.

“What if you could actually quantify heart? How run-down someone is relative to how they perform?” he speculated to the website.

It’s just a matter of time before other educational institutions adopt a similar program. The benefits can reach beyond athletics; a recent study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that sleep disturbance among college athletes is linked to alcohol, tobacco and drug use.

USA Hockey has developed tips to help its athletes sleep better, including promoting protein and milk consumption before bedtime as well as certain fruits and nuts.

Swimmers are notorious for their early-morning practices, with bleary-eyed athletes showing up at the pool sometimes in the dark. Stanford’s men’s and women’s swimming teams participated in a study that extended sleep hours and rated performance. With more sleep, swimmers had improved sprint times, reaction time and turn time, Flo Swimming reported.

The pros are paying attention, too. The Seattle Reign FC linked with Microsoft to measure subjective data such as how well-rested the soccer players feel, as reported in SportTechie. Sensors attached to players before, during and after workouts and games gather data that coaches can interpret to maximize performance, the website stated.

With performance at stake, mattresses might be as important as barbells to athletes and coaches.

 

Posted in Health, Mental Game, Tips

Historic Deal Helping Grow Women’s Hockey Internationally

By Kristi Patton on June 23, 2017


Members of the Kunlun Red Star board, including Phil Esposito (far right), standing with the Clarkson Cup and CWHL players Kelli Stack (middle, left) who will play for KRS, Julie Chu (middle, right) of the Canadiennes de Montreal and CWHL commissioner Brenda Andress (second from left). (Courtesy of Chris Tanouye/Canadian Women’s Hockey League)

 

CWHL signs historic deal to help grow women’s game internationally.

Eight years ago, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League held their first draft at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

In early June, commissioner Brenda Andress stood in the same building announcing the CWHL is expanding their borders outside of North America.

Much to the chagrin of the well-traveled Calgary Inferno, it will not be a western Canadian team or a hop over the border to another U.S. team. The CWHL is moving to the far east, as China’s Kunlun Red Star enters for the 2017-18 season.

“I guess it is only fitting that we find ourselves in the great hall because after tonight’s announcement women’s hockey as we know it will change for the better and it will only continue to grow,” said former Canadian Olympian Tessa Bonhomme, who was the first ever player drafted into the CWHL.

Red Star will join the Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Toronto Furies and last year’s Clarkson Cup winners Les Canadiennes de Montreal.

“This is a marriage across the Pacific between Canada, North American women’s hockey and the Chinese hockey team,” said Kunlun Red Star chairman of the board Alex Zhao, of who has partnered with the Chinese government to boost hockey in the country ahead of the 2022 Olympic Games hosted in Beijing.

The deal will provide a new source of income for the CWHL, as KRS will pay to play in the league. It will also give an opportunity to attract business sponsors, more fans and follows the mission of the CWHL to grow the game and opportunities for women.

Andress promised last season that players would be compensated this year, and while that plan is still in play, the CWHL has not released anything on how much players can expect to receive. Players currently are compensated in the form of receiving some of their equipment at no cost and bonuses for performance. They have yet to be paid a full salary, a model that the National Women’s Hockey League has tested out with their four-team league based in the U.S. That model ran into trouble last season which meant cutbacks to players’ already small salaries that were in the range of $10,000 to $26,000 U.S. Andress said during the press conference at the Hockey Hall of Fame that KRS would have to follow the CWHL’s salary cap policy.

The NWHL and Russian Ice Hockey Federation have come up with their own international collaboration, however not on the same scale. The Russian women’s national team will be in the U.S. in October for two weeks of training and competition. The Russians played five preseason games against NWHL clubs in 2016. NWHL commissioner Dani Rylan said they celebrate all giant steps forward for women’s hockey, offering her congratulations to the CWHL-KRS deal

Kelli Stack, who was left off the U.S. centralization roster for the 2018 Olympics, and Finnish national team goalie Noora Raty have already signed on to play with the Chinese team, which will be based in Shenzhen (considered to be the Silicon Valley of China).

 

Raty planned on joining the men’s team Nokia Pyry in Finland for the upcoming season, when she received a contract offer from KRS. She told a Finnish news outlet that the salary she will receive with KRS, “pays back all the financial losses” she has as a female player in the game for 20 years without much compensation in comparison to a male hockey player.

Related: Players Around the World Chime in on U.S. Women’s Hockey Boycott

The goaltender will continue on with the Finnish national team as they get ready for the Olympics, leaving the KRS to train and play when the time comes and then return for CWHL playoffs. Not only will she be between the pipes for KRS, she will also be a mentor and help promote the game in China in order to earn a full salary.

“It has always been a dream of mine to play female pro hockey,” Raty told HockeyNow. “My first job there will be as a mentor to help grow the game and female sport globally and then getting to play will be secondary. What they want to do with female hockey and grow the game in the world is so exciting. I hope that in 10 years the youth today will have it better than my generation.”

Seeing her name engraved on the Clarkson Cup would also be a perk too.

“Oh yeah definitely. It would be fun to win another trophy and I think the Canadian league is the best one out there for females.”

Raty said when she told hockey colleagues about the opportunity she was given it was a bit of disbelief.

“It is still surreal. A lot of people thought it was a joke, but it definitely isn’t. They are a real business and want to grow the game. With how much focus they are putting on female hockey, China will be a powerhouse one day.”

Perhaps shaking up the vision other countries have for their own female programs.

“I hope so. I hope it wakes some other countries up that China is coming. Hopefully they see this model and do something similar. I think they will have a really, really good team by 2022,” said Raty. “At the same time China is a country with billions of people and more resources so it would be hard to compete with that, but it would be great to see other countries put more resources into their programs.”

Former U.S. Olympian and member of the current Clarkson Cup winners Les Canadiennes de Montréal, Julie Chu described the CWHL deal as incredible news.

“It is a huge step forward for the CWHL, for the stability we provide for elite women’s hockey players in North American and now China and hopefully around the world as well.”

Chu, whose father was born in China, said she was one of the only Asians playing hockey in her hometown of Connecticut when she was growing up and the only female.

“I think this is amazing for the CWHL, for young Chinese girls and all young players to show there are no boundaries for what hockey provides for any of us.

 

Looking Ahead
The CWHL teased the announcement beforehand about how they will continue to grow the game, after the first 10 seasons since the inception of the league.

The deal will put the Kunlun Red Star into the league starting this upcoming season and the next four after that. The CWHL season will expand to 30 games with each team traveling to China to play a three-game series and China also coming to North America to play.

China is encouraging growth in hockey and female sport in their country in the lead up to Beijing hosting the Winter Olympics in 2022 and has teamed up with KRS to boost development. Currently, according to the IIHF, out of a population of just over 1.3 billion in China, only 1,100 people play hockey — just 300 of those women. However those numbers have grown considerably and according to an interview in the Toronto Star with a Chinese hockey broadcaster, the Stanley Cup is drawing 22 million viewers — in comparison NBC announced average viewership of five million for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and about four million on Canadian broadcasts.

“We’re extremely excited to announce this exciting partnership with the Canadian Women’s Hockey league,” said Zhao, who mentioned they would like to have two teams in the CWHL. “As part of the CWHL, the premier professional women’s league, our mission is to develop a top-tier professional team in order to develop a strong base of female players for our national programs, and new audiences for the sport in China, in the lead-up to hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.”

A second team, the Kunlun Red Star Junior, will join the Eastern Women’s Hockey Conference next season, calling New England their home. That league recently launched its rebrand from the New England Women’s Junior Hockey League and will provide elite-level hockey for players 19 and under. The league said they are committed to preparing its players for collegiate hockey. Teams include the three from the Ontario Hockey Academy (Juniors, Tardiff and U17), with the U17 playing in a Silver Division that only features four teams. Red Star will play in the eight team Gold Division which includes teams from the eastern U.S.

China last played in the Olympics in 2010. The national team program was created in 1992 and finished in fourth at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano. They also have fourth place finishes at the IIHF Women’s World Championship in 1995 and 1997. The women’s national team currently sit 16th overall in the women’s world rankings.

A strong leadership group is hoping to boost exposure to women’s hockey in China and help develop a winning program as they receive an automatic entry to the Olympics in 2022 as the host nation.

Kunlan’s women’s ice hockey team chief coach Digit Murphy is no stranger to the CWHL. She formerly coached the U.S. women’s national team, led the Boston Blades to win the CWHL Clarkson Cup several times as the head coach, is a former head coach of the Brown University women’s hockey team and is the founder of the United Women’s Lacrosse League.

Joining her is Rob Morgan, KRS associate head coach, who previously held the same position with Yale University and was a multiple coach of the year winner with Norbert College. He also worked at Dartmouth College winning two ECAC hockey championships.

The KRS men’s team played in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia last season, making it to the playoffs. It will be led by former NHL coach Mike Keenan and assistant Bobby Carpenter, a former NHL player. The KRS advisory board includes former NHLer Phil Esposito.

The CWHL regular season schedule will be released in mid-June, with opening weekend scheduled for October.

 

Mike Vecchione using sports psychology to make Flyers

The NHL hopeful will apply the tricks he learned in college in order to stay cool under the pressure of competing for a roster spot.

Mike Vecchione is focusing on his mental game just as much as his physical game this summer. (Photo: Getty Images)


Mike Vecchione knows the numbers game to make the Flyers this fall.

The Union College graduate, who signed with the Flyers last March and inked a two-year deal this offseason, will likely compete with Scott Laughton, Oskar Lindblom, Matt Read and possibly even Michael Raffl for two jobs at training camp.

Despite the stiff competition, the 5-foot-10 rookie is not concerned with anyone, or anything, other than himself.

“If I worry about everything everyone else is doing, I will lose track of what I am doing,” Vecchione said at development camp earlier this month. “You have to worry about what you can control, and I have been pretty good at doing that. I think that is a big reason why I am sitting here.”

The mature mental approach for the 24-year-old is the product of sports psychology, a growing and popular science he has fully embraced. Vecchione was first introduced to it as a freshman at Union by “Doc” Wally Bzdell, a sports psychologist, who met with the Union team every couple of weeks.

The point that “Doc” Bzdell drove home which stuck with Vecchione was to focus on the here-and-now — and himself.

“After four years of his help, I stay in my mind and figure out what I need to do to get better,” Vecchione said. “I make sure nothing else can distract me from what I need to do out there on the ice. I’m a strong believer in sports psychology.”

It helped him at Union, where last year he was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award, given to the top college hockey player in the country. The center will also lean on the same mental toughness for his upcoming challenge with the Flyers.

“One shift at a time, move your feet, win faceoffs, take a deep breath and move on. If you have a bad shift or practice, let it go and focus on the next one,” Vecchione said. “Doc taught me to concentrate on the ABC’s of the game. It’s the little things you have to focus on that lead to the big things.”

One of the big things is obviously a spot on the third or fourth line with the Flyers in the season opener on Oct. 4 against the San Jose Sharks.

“I have to make sure I play my game this fall,” Vecchione said. “The game is a little faster and the guys are more skilled so I need to improve in all aspects that I can. I am not going to get any taller but can get stronger on my skates.”

“I’m not too worried about all the guys who will be at training camp, though. I am just worried about myself.”

“Doc” would be proud.

 

Posted in Attitude, Mental Game, NHL

Navigating The Junior Hockey Landscape

Asking The Right Questions Can Provide The Right Directions Up The Ladder Of Development

By: Jim Leitner

The Junior hockey landscape in the United States stretches from Alaska to Florida and includes more than 200 teams spread across a dozen leagues. And it’s not always an easy landscape to navigate.USA Hockey Magazine posed the top 10 questions about Junior hockey to a panel of experts—USA Hockey director of Junior hockey Marc Boxer; Vice President, Junior Council John Vanbiesbrouck; USHL Commissioner Bob Fallen; and NAHL director of communications Alex Kyrias.

Here is some advice they offered to help every player take the next step up the ladder of development:

 

What are the levels of Junior hockey?

USA Hockey sanctions three tiers of Junior hockey. The United States Hockey League plays at the Tier I level, and the North American Hockey League competes at the Tier II level. The Tier III level consists of the Eastern Hockey League, the Metropolitan Junior Hockey League, NA3EHL Independents, the NA3HL, Northern-Pacific, Rocky Mountain and U.S. Premier. Tier I and Tier II rosters are limited to 23 players per team, and Tier III teams carry 25 players.

 

What is the difference in costs for the three tiers?

Teams at the Tier I level pay for all costs involved with playing, including equipment and housing. Players in the NAHL pay for housing and some equipment. Tier III is pay-to-play and costs for billeting, ice time and coaching vary depending on location of the franchise.

 

What questions should I ask before deciding which tryouts I should attend?

There are fees involved with participating in tryouts, so players and parents should do their homework before deciding where to try out.They should ask other questions as well: How many veterans will be returning? How many roster spots are available? Where do players go after they ‘graduate’ from the program?There is also a big difference between a recruiting pitch in April and how things might play out during training camp in September. Similar questions should be asked before signing to play for a program.

 

When is the right time to play Junior hockey?

This is more of a family decision because the majority of Junior hockey players must move away from home to play. Again, players must ask a variety of questions before making a decision.Is the player mature enough to handle the responsibilities of living away from home and handling the hockey, social and academic elements of Junior hockey? What are the player’s goals, and how realistic are those goals?Keep in mind, on average there are 225 college scholarships available each year, and Canadian and European players are also vying for them, so competition is fierce.

The current landscape of Junior hockey in the United States provides talented players with opportunities to improve their skills along with their chances of advancing in their hockey careers.The current landscape of Junior hockey in the United States provides talented players with opportunities to improve their skills along with their chances of advancing in their hockey careers.

 

Do I have to play Junior hockey at an early age to advance my career?

It’s not a bad thing to stay home and play high school hockey or Midget hockey if you’re not quite ready to handle all that goes along with Junior hockey. Teenagers develop as players and people at different rates. There are advantages to excelling at the high school or Midget level for an extra year before moving on to play Junior hockey.

 

Where does education fit into the life of a Junior hockey player?B

ecause Junior hockey is considered a gateway to college hockey, teams at all levels should be placing emphasis on the educational component. That’s why they develop relationships with high schools, community colleges and four-year institutions to make sure their players have educational options.Even though Junior teams are not directly affiliated with a school, there are often consequences for failing to meet academic requirements. Coaches will take away ice time for missed assignments or grades that do not meet the standards they establish at the beginning of the season.Most USHL teams employ academic advisors to make sure their high school or college players maintain their academic standings and to help them prepare for college entrance exams and understand what to look for in a post-high school institution. This varies by team and should be considered when considering your options.

 

Aside from playing hockey, what can a player expect from the Junior hockey experience?

The hockey component actually makes up a small percentage of a player’s day, so teams seek opportunities for players to develop away from the rink as well. Off-ice training is required of all players. Most teams require their players to attend high school or community college, hold a part-time job or participate in the team’s community outreach programs.Players who move away from home to play Tier I and Tier II Junior hockey are assigned to billet families, who are screened by the teams to make sure they provide a stable environment. Players competing at the Tier III level who are under the age of 18 are required to live with a billet family. While living in billet homes, players are subjected to the same house rules as other teenagers.

 

GoldStandardFornewsletterWhat do I need to be aware of when it comes to drafts or signing tenders with a team?

Drafts are league-specific events that determine teams’ rights to players who wish to play in that league.The USHL and NAHL give their teams the option of signing a limited number of players to tenders before the draft, and those teams forfeit draft picks in lieu of the tenders. A tender is an agreement to play for a team, and it eliminates your other options within that league.The majority of Tier III teams use contracts, which are different from tenders. Contracts for the following season may not be signed before the end of USA Hockey’s National Tournament series. A contract binds you to one specific team and prevents you from moving to a different team or league, unless your rights are either released or traded.

 

How will participating in showcase events help me get recognized by Junior programs?

There are a variety of pre-draft combines and showcase events that promise exposure to Junior and college programs. This is another area in which you should do your homework. Ask those teams if they plan to attend and how often they find players at these events.

 

Where is a good place to start ‘doing my homework’ on Junior hockey?

You can glean quite a bit of information by visiting USAHockey.com/juniorhockey, which includes a directory of leagues and teams as well as other helpful information. You can get a feel for the talent level for most teams by watching their games on FASTHockey.com. Perhaps the best advice comes from parents and players who have experienced Junior hockey and are willing to share what they’ve learned along the way.

Posted in Junior Hockey