player tips

16

November

black hockey puck on ice rink

One of my former coaches used to say that if you stay in the moment, good things can happen. I’ve always believed and preached this coaching games when my team is both leading as well as behind, but especially when we are behind by several goals. I was reminded of this former coach after watching an absolutely incredible finish to a recent high school football that made national news.

The game was between two teams from Minnesota. With one minute left in this quarterfinal state tournament game, Maple Grove High School was down by 19 points.

Game over, right?

As fans were heading for the exits, Maple Grove scored a touchdown to make it 27-16 with 59 seconds left in the game. Failed onside kick, and game over, right?

Maple Grove recovered the onside kick and had the ball at mid-field. Ok, interesting, but they still need to score a touchdown, and even if they do, they are still down by five points, and will be kicking off with little or not time remaining. A quick pass led to another touchdown, and suddenly the score was 27-22 with 46 seconds left.

Ok, at this point, it’s been a great story, but there’s no way a football team can successfully execute another onside kick, right? And even if they miraculously did, they would still need another touchdown.

Incredibly, this team recovered another onside kick, and once again had the ball around mid-field. A few pass plays got them down near the goal line, and the next play they ran in their third touchdown in a minute. Pandemonium ensued, and I’m sure sometime later that night the reality of what they had accomplished set in.

In our last blog we talked talked about the awesome baseball we saw during the World Series this year, and about the importance of believing in your own game. We asked the question about when the game is on the line, do you believe and dig down, and think of all of your time, energy and training, and confidently know that you can win.

This football game brought up another important aspect of this, which is not just believing that you have the talent to win, but also and just as importantly, staying in the moment and doing your job.

It would have been very easy for the kicker of this high school football team, down by two touchdowns and thinking the game is over, to not concentrate on the first onside kick. Instead, he executed it flawlessly, as if that kick was going to win the game. He stayed in the moment!

It would have been equally easy for the quarterback to then take the field, still knowing a comeback was nearly impossible, and to lose focus on the plays and passes.

These players stayed in the moment, and even after converting one successful onside kick into a touchdown, did it again, this time to finish a comeback like football fans had never witnessed, and may very well never see again!

Whether you are on the winning side of a game, or the losing side, this wild finish is a great reminder to never lose focus, and regardless of the score, to play hard and do your job until the final second ticks off the clock.

Great coaches leave lasting impressions, and that old coach of mine always taught me to stay in the moment, and I’ve got a feeling both of the teams that participated in this wild game will never forget that same lesson!

We hope you are off to a great start to your season. All of our 2018 summer school dates and locations will be finalized soon. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Holiday with family and friends and remember, if you stay in the moment, good things can happen!

31

October

What’s In Your Game?

Posted by Greg Carter
Hockey School

It’s been great to have the NHL back in action on tv, but it was really tricky trying to watch hockey recently when there was such an incredible World Series taking place. While there is little doubt that hockey is way more entertaining than a baseball game, the drama unfolding in this championship series was absolutely epic and made me think about some of my hockey experiences.

Game 5 in particular kept many of us up until the game-winning run was scored in the wee hours of the morning; actually 1:37 a.m. on the East Coast where our hockey school is headquartered! How could anyone fall asleep during a game where three-run deficits were overcome three times? In hockey they say that a two goal lead is the hardest to keep, well in baseball this was just the second time in postseason history that a game featured three separate comebacks by teams down by three runs.

The Dodgers led 4-0 early, and were tied at 4 on a three-run homer by Yuli Gurriel. Then the Dodgers went back ahead, 7-4, on a three-run homer by Cody Bellinger. Houston proceeded to tie the game 7-7 on a three-run homer by Jose Altuve. Then the unthinkable happened when Houston coughed up a 12-9 lead in the ninth to force extra innings!

The Astros went on to a 13-12 victory in this five-hour, 17-minute thriller when Alex Bregman singled in Derek Fisher in the bottom of the 10th inning. Al Michaels’ had the famous line in the 1980 Olympics ‘Do you believe in Miracles’. But during this game, we might just ask, do you believe?

And in your own games, when the game is on the line, do you believe? Do you dig down, think of all the time, energy and training, and confidently know that you can do this? When you are behind by a goal, or two or three, do you start to lose confidence, or do you look around at your teammates and instill the energy and poise needed to mount a comeback.

As a coach when we are behind in games, I’ve seen players look at their opposition and question if they’re outnumbered and too good, or maybe start to think that their goalie can’t be beat. Watching game 5, the Astros were facing Clayton Kershaw, the Dodgers’ ace who was having the best postseason of his life. In fact in 61 regular-season games when Kershaw had six or more runs of support, he won 59 of them. But when it mattered most, Houston found a way to succeed.

A great coach once told me ‘you have to believe that your are good, before you will ever be good.’

When it’s the clutch moment, and the game is on the line, will you be ready? Will you believe that all of your training and preparation has put you and your teammates in a position to win? Will you believe that you can mount the comeback?

The Houston Astros did. The LA Dodgers did.

What’s in your game? Will you believe?

17

October

Shoot To Thrill

Posted by Greg Carter

When it comes to scoring goals, it all starts with a great shot.

IMG_6250 - Version 2

An old coach of mine used to tell our team that you can never shoot enough pucks, and that the all of the great goal scorers could pick a spot, and hit it 9 out of 10 times. He would then tell us to go home and shoot pucks in the driveway, basement or back yard, and once you hit your target 9 out of 10 times, pick up the pucks and do it all over again.

Of all the great players that I’ve skated with, I always remember the guys who could shoot the puck. Some had a really heavy shot, but not great accuracy. Others could snipe a spot no larger than a mouse hole every time, but weren’t strong enough to beat the better goalies. The really great shooters had a combination of both power and accuracy.

With today’s stick technology, finding the right stick is a very important factor in shooting. The science in sticks today has been a game changer because of the flex and whipping motion that with the right technique, allows players to shoot harder than ever. Make sure to pay attention to the the pattern and flex which will play a role, especially as players get older, in developing a good shot.

So how can you increase the accuracy and power behind your shot? At our hockey camps we stress the importance of the fundamentals in shooting technique. This varies a bit from player to player and also by the age of the player. Older, stronger players have the strength to lean on a stick, creating the torque necessary to best leverage the technology in sticks. Younger players meanwhile, may not have the strength, and need to really rely on accuracy, while developing the strength and technique needed to score on goalies as they get older, and as the goaltenders get better.

Another key to a great shot is keeping your head up and your feet moving. We see a lot of players who have a good shot, but cant snipe the spot because their head is down and they don’t ever see that wide open top corner! Also, as soon as you stop moving your feet, it’s a big clue to the goaltender that you may be going for a deke versus a shot.

If you are spending your time away from the rink shooting pucks , you are already on your way to scoring more goals this season. Remember to practice all shots including the wrist shot, snap shot and slap shot. Each require a unique discipline that with the right stick, will allow you to shoot to thrill!

02

October

Make It A Great Start To The Season!

Posted by Greg Carter

I recently received a phone message from someone who is always upbeat, energetic and positive. On this particular day he left me a voicemail updating me on everything that needed attention, and then as he always does, finished the message with “…and hey, make it a great day”.  His emails are also signed the same each and every time with “make it a great day”.

Life is busy and this small shot of inspiration can easily be ignored as just another cliche, or overlooked and lost in the clutter of daily communication. Or, it can be embraced. In this case, somewhere along the line, this guy decided that he was in fact not just going to leave this saying as a tagline on his emails or a sign off on his voice mails as a way for people to remember him, but to actually live each and everyday, truly trying to make it a great day!

Of course some days this can be an easy task because everything goes well, and things just sort of fall into place. Other days however, it takes focus, hard work and plenty of energy to turn a bad, good or ordinary day into a great day.

What I’ve seen from people like this guy is that when you start to live each day by the attitude you bring, it can become contagious among friends, coworkers and for the purpose of those playing the great sport of hockey, coaches and teammates!

It’s been said plenty of times that life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it. So as you start this hockey season, remember that there will be plenty of things that you can’t control, including the team your are on, the teammates that you have, the coach or your linemates.  What you can control however, is your attitude towards it all. Attitude determines altitude. The start of the season is a fresh beginning, and another opportunity to have an awesome time playing the greatest sport on Earth.

Enjoy the car rides to the rink with teammates and family. Bring a smile and work hard at practices and dryland sessions. Treat each and every game like it’s an opportunity to showcase everything that you have trained so hard for during the off-season and at summer at hockey school.

Start the season with a great attitude and your chances of success will increase dramatically, both individually and as a team!

Make it a great day!

11

September

big-time-player-blog

Each year at the start of the season after tryouts, players and parents are revved up with anticipation about where they will fit in on their team, what their role will be, and of course, what position they will play and the biggest question, what line will they be on?

At younger ages however, it is important to pump the brakes a bit, and to keep the larger development picture in perspective. The better players are not just the players who did the best at tryouts. They are players who understand all aspects of the game. They are players that are able to adapt to all situations in the game, offensively and defensively, are able to skate competitively both forwards and backwards, and understand the importance of “positional versatility” as it is described in a recent USA Hockey article:

“The ability to be versatile is a key component of today’s successful hockey player,” said USA Hockey’s Bob Mancini, an American Development Model regional manager. “And it starts in youth hockey. Playing multiple positions at a young age does more than just give options to kids and their coaches. By playing and learning multiple positions, players view the game from different areas and understand  how to better defeat opponents in the small battles that typically pit one position against another. So the benefits can be immediate, and they can also be long-term. Years down the road, those youth hockey days of playing multiple positions can pay big dividends.”

Being able to play multiple positions will help players not only with their long term development, but also immediately this season, as  you seek to find your place, and role, on a team. There are numerous success stories about prep, collegiate and professional players who earned a spot on a top team – and the top line – playing a position other than the one they anticipated. The great players know how to play all positions, and how to accept their role on a team.

As an old coach of mine used to say, it’s more important to be a complete player, than a first line player.

So as you start the season, rather than focusing on the first, second or third line, keep in mind all of the hard work that you put in at hockey camp and your off-season goals, and remember that playing all positions is just as important in long term development as is playing first line center or first line wing. The best players will always find a way to play together, and sometimes that might mean playing defense instead of center.

The question is, will you be prepared, and ready to play?