Sauer – the fifth-winningest coach in college history
– writes a bi-weekly column for Inside College Hockey.com.
"The Dean" was the head coach for 31 years at Colorado
College and Wisconsin, where he won two national titles. Sauer
retired at the end of the 2001-02 season.
National Junior Team
Editions of The Dean's List
early departures for the pros
this year's rule changes
rinks, old and new
major junior eligibility
The Dean's favorite things
listening pleasure, find The
Bud Song on Wisconsin's official site.
of the fun in doing this column is the opportunity to interact
with you, the hockey fan. Please send your questions or comments
a coach, how do you change momentum when things aren't going
Mark Mitchell, Lansing, Mich.
are a number of things you can do, but your goal is to change
the momentum of the game. You can do that by calling a timeout.
You can turn to your third- and fourth-line guys – those
are the guys who have been watching – and tell them,
"We need some energy. Go change things around with a
big play or a big hit, something to jack us up."
change the forecheck, but basically change the flow of the
game. And that's tougher to do in college hockey now with
the new 15-second faceoff rule. In the past, you could try
to slow the pace of the game down. That strategy is gone now
that they drop the puck 15 seconds after a stoppage, but you
still have to find a way to reverse the momentum.
Dean's List by Jeff Sauer
hockey this is the time of the season when teams shut down for Christmas
break. In the world of international hockey, it is not only a time
of Christmas decorations, parties, shoppping and good cheer, but
also the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
This year the
event will be held in Nova Scotia, Canada, Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. I
am fortunate to be an assistant coach to Lou Vairo for the United
States team. And while I wish I could be home for Christmas, I am
excited about reporting to Halifax, Nova Scotia, for a mini-training
camp. I like our roster, which is dominated with college players.
Of the 22 players named, 17 play for U.S. colleges (see link, right).
competition does bring some challenges that are different from the
college game. Mark King, who did video for the Western Collegaite
Hockey Association all-star team on its two tours of Europe, recalls
paying $32 for a pizza overseas and Rob Malnory, the equipment manager
for the Badgers, still boasts of paying only $2 for a can of Heineken
at the Pravda Cup in Leningrad. So the exchange rate gets some getting
used to, but that shouldn't be a problem at this year's junior tournament
in North America.
There are other
advantages of playing in Canada. Guys won't have to adjust to the
food or a different culture. At that age, junior players often have
trouble with overseas travel and a different lifestyle. Those are
issues that can complicate your preparations in some years. Playing
in Canada, conditions will be as close to home as possible. The
players will be able to block out a lot of the distractions that
often exist in this tournament and concentrate on hockey.
We gather on
the 19th, practice for four days and play Sweden in an exhibition
game on Dec. 23. We open the tournament against Russia Dec. 26 in
Sydney, Nova Scotia. We catch a break in that the home team is in
the other five-team bracket, so we wouldn't see Canada until the
consists of the best teenage hockey players in the world. When we
played Finland in August in an exhibition game, they had four first-round
National Hockey League draft choices. I assume this will be as big
a collection of NHL scouts as ever assembled, since the games will
be played in Canada. The fact that the games will be played on an
NHL rink (200 feet by 85 feet) instead of the bigger Olympic sheet
(200 x 100) means the games will be more physical than a lot of
When we picked
the team, Lou took that into account. You might recall that Lou
coached the U.S. team in the 1984 Olympics, and he has Mike Hastings,
the coach of the River City Lancers, handling the defense and penalty
killing. Lou will work with the forwards. He has me working with
the power play and Ronnie Rolston, assistant coach at Boston College,
scouting the other teams in the field.
I have watched
a lot of tape on the players we have selected and talked with college
coaches all over the country to learn how players are used on power
plays and how they respond to pressure situations. I've tried to
get ideas on guys' strengths and weaknesses, who is strong on faceoffs,
things like that.
When you deal
with an all-star team, one of the challenges is that guys never
think they get enough ice time and you only have a short time to
get people into line combinations and work on special teams.
But is very
exciting to think about putting people like Zach Parise of North
Dakota, Ryan Shannon of Boston College and Chris Higgins of Yale
out there. It's a shame that Patrick Eaves of Boston College got
hurt last week because he would have fit in well on our power play.
(We added Brian McConnell from BU as an injury replacement.)
Like Lou, I
like our team. Higgins, a first-round pick of the Montreal Canadiens,
is one of 10 NHL drafted players on the team, and he is one of six
guys who played for the U.S. last year in Slovakia. He had four
goals and two assists for the team which had the tournament's best
record, but failed to win a medal. Nine of these players won a gold
medal in May with the U.S. National Under-18 Team at the 2002 IIHF
World Under-18 Championship in Slovakia. Tim Gleason, a forward
from Livonia, Mich., who plays for Windsor of the Ontario Hockey
League, will be participating in his third World Junior tournament.
I have been
very fortunate to be involved in a lot of international competition
at the world tournaments and the Goodwill Games. It will be nice
for me to be reunited with Lou and U.S. team leader Jimmy Johannson,
who played for me at Wisconsin and later at the Goodwill Games.
I always remember
those Goodwill Games in '90, when I had guys trying to get Jane
Fonda's autograph, and when the representative for the Russian team
came to hotel room telling us that a player named Sergei Federov
had left the team and was about to defect.
competition always brings something unusual. I'm very excited to
coach against players who will go on to play in future world tournaments,
the Olympics and the National Hockey League.