Diary of a Season 2021-2022
I have been doing this Diary of a Season for quite a few years as some coaches appreciate it. I post about the team and the practice plans.
Last season our arena was closed and I rented ice in September - October and early November. We thought there would be a season winter semester but that got cancelled and we shut down training early November. It wasn't a very good hockey or school experience for the players. On line classes, no dressing room, etc..
Recruiting was totally different. Some leagues were cancelled, some teams practiced but had no or very few games. Most of my recruiting was done online and by contacting coaches. I signed 10 F, 9 D, 3 G to play. The entire athletics staff was laid off except the AD who had to handle a dozen teams alone. I no longer had the athletic academic advisor to help recruits get registered or give advise on programs. I was allowed in the rink once in 18 months to grab some sticks.
They put the ice in last week for the first time since March 2020 and Tuesday, Sept 7 was the first skate. Right now my players must change in three different rooms as there is another Covid wave.
First day of school one of my new D informed me that the funding she was promised for tuition was cancelled and she can't come. My MVP from 2019 has finished her x-ray programs but has to write certication exams and work at the hospital. She wanted to take three courses to be a full time student and play but told me she realized it is too much and will settle down a lot when she passes the exams and does her practicum. So she plans to return winter semester. So now 9 F, 8 D, 3 G.
The good news is that the 8 new forwards are very good as are the 4 new D and 2 new G. So it is more like coaching minor hockey numbers than college numbers where you have at least 12 F, 8 D and 3 G.
I have an incredible coaching staff. Terry Johnson, NHL, Stanley Cup Finalist, long time coach is in charge of the D. Mike Tschumi, McGill graduate, ten years of pro in Switzerland and recently coached players like Cale Makar, and this year first rounders Sanderson and Holloway is in charge of F. Melissa Kunzelman who had a .950 save percentage at college and lots of coaching success works with the goalies. My son Jim is too busy with his new law firm to coach this year but he will do video of the team play and player individual meetings. Stacy Allen will be our skating coach. She won 3 National Championships at university and runs a successful skating company. Wally Kozak a former National team player, Women's Olympic Champion assistant coach and all round hockey guru will do some sessions on mental training and overall coach mentorship. Devon Hardie is a great equipment manager, who also has a goaltending company.
We have five 90' practices each week and our season doesn't begin til mid November. We will have some ex games and I have organized team play practices with the U of Calgary and MRU where we take turns having 10 minute 5-4, 5-3, 4-4 etc. with a few minutes in between to go over the team play on the bench. It is a great way to get some competition. We used to do this when I was Asst. coach at U of C and we would scrimmage with the Canadian National team that Dave King coached. Willie Desjardins played for him at U of Sask and he was our HC.
All the coaches work and can come certain days. Mike and I are there all the time except Mike is going to Switzerland in October to watch his son play pro.
My job is to coordinate whole program so that everyone on the staff can contribute and not simply move pucks around, which I don't allow coaches to do. (players use them and can easily move them to where the next drill or game starts). I decide on the team play which will be 1-2-3-4-5 read and react and coaches suggest tweaks. We will focus on good habits and solid playing principles along with a lot of skill development and game situation reads. The team play is the template and the skills and habits and reading the play are the most important things.
Anyway 'Let the games begin.'