Ways to Get Things Back on Track
Winning streaks are fun. The attitudes around
practices are good, the teasing one-liners roll off the
tongue more quickly during bus rides, and a buzz runs through
the bench on game night. It's fun to play hockey.
Hockey League Notebook
Colgate coach Don Vaughan was looking for answers
when his team went seven games in a row without a
win. Concentrating on the process, not the results,
proved to be successful.
But hockey is a fickle sport. Things change
quickly, and just as much fun as a winning streak can be,
the sting of a slump can strike quickly.
One of the biggest challenges that coaches
and players face is identifying what's gone wrong and determining
That has been the case recently for Clarkson
and Colgate. The Golden Knights, after a 6-1-1 start, suffered
a four-game losing streak that included particularly poor
performances at St. Cloud State. Colgate, the preseason
choice by coaches and media members to win the ECAC Hockey
League, is under .500 on the year and the Raiders' performance
has fallen well short of expectations.
The good news for both teams is that they
showed signs of breaking out of their streaks last weekend.
Clarkson handily defeated Bowling Green and also knocked
off nationally-ranked Miami. Colgate put together a two-game
winning streak before losing to Niagara.
"For us, we went back to work,"
Clarkson head coach George Roll said about his team's approach
to battling out of the losing streak. "We didn't give
them any days off. We were on them in practice and every
time we made a mistake we stopped them and showed them,
and we grinded it out this whole week of practice. We didn't
take any shortcuts and didn't allow them to take any shortcuts."
"When you lose games, and you lose and
you play well, as a coach you can accept that," Roll
said. "But the way we were losing, in our eyes, was
unacceptable. The question in our eyes was why your guys
weren't motivated and the first finger I pointed was at
myself and what I'm doing."
The detail-oriented practices were one approach
taken by Clarkson, but there were psychological ploys as
well. The players' lounge near the locker room was closed
for the week and the team's radio was shut off. Assistant
coach Jean-Francois Houle purchased several dozen wood sticks
and every player on the team used the old-fashioned models
in practice. The reasoning was to remind the Knights that
luxuries are earned, not just simply granted.
Colgate's run of poor results extended over
the better part of a month. The Raiders were on a seven-game
winless streak before breaking it with wins at Princeton
and against Ohio State. Since the slump was prolonged, there
were major changes. Bag skates, extra video work, shinny
and breakaway drills, and days off were all a part of the
regular practice routine.
"It's interesting you ask the question
because we tried all of the above over about a three-week
period," Raider coach Don Vaughan said. "We went
hard on them and tried to get them to respond that way,
and then we coddled them a little bit, and then we even
took some time off."
Many parts of hockey are counterintuitive.
Trying too hard to make a great play usually results in
bad decisions and turnovers. Increasing effort usually brings
doubt along with it, and a lack of confidence.
"We've seen a lot of that in the last
couple of weeks, and it comes from a good place. Guys try
to do it all by themselves and try to take the team on their
shoulders, but you can't play this game by yourself. It's
just a natural reaction. You see it at every level of hockey,"
"What it came down to for us, is we just
started over. We had a mini training camp and just psychologically
started over. Slump cycles are really strange things, and
the most important thing is that you have to focus on the
process. You have to get back to getting them to feel comfortable
about the drill, about the process, about the work ethic.
You can't start thinking about the Ws, you have to focus
on your job at that particular moment in time, and I think
the confidence will build from there."
Another part of a slump that is rarely mentioned
is the burdens that players and teams face outside of hockey.
Particularly in the ECAC Hockey League, student-athletes
are at excellent institutions taking difficult classes.
Many of them are learning to live on their own, hundreds
of miles from where they grew up.
The Thanksgiving holiday brought a respite
from classes on Clarkson's campus and helped them refocus
their hockey minds, with assistance from the coaching staff.
The methodology worked that time, and good times were being
had once again.
SEEN AND HEARD IN THE ECACHL
Out of their league: Rensselaer
and Union visit Cornell and Colgate for games this weekend.
It gives RPI and Union a chance to make up some of the seven
fewer league games they've played than Harvard and
It's an adjustment for first-year Rensselaer
coach Seth Appert.
"I don't like it. I don't know if it's
good or bad for us, because I haven't been through the league
but it is what it is," RPI coach Seth Appert said.
"The Ivy Leagues have certain schedules and finals
and things along those lines, and so does our travel partner.
But I don't think it's a healthy situation for the league,
generally, to have Harvard with nine games played and we
scheduling problems that some of the non-Ivy League
teams face regarding out-of-conference games, but this wrinkle
within the 22-game league schedule makes for strange standings
at this time of the year.
Great Weekend Getaway
at Yale (Fri.)
St. Lawrence at Yale (Sat.)
It's hard to believe that anyone would have guessed
that Yale and St. Lawrence would have a combined ECACHL
record of 7-1-0 heading into the month of December.
St. Lawrence puts its perfect 4-0-0 ECACHL mark on
the line at Brown on Friday and at Yale on Saturday.
Clarkson has some momentum after last week's sweep.
While You're There: Visit
Yale's Peabody Museum, which is open from 10 a.m.
until 5 p.m. and check out the "Great Hall of
Dinosaurs" exhibit. The museum is located at
170 Peabody Ave.
players used wooden sticks in practice last week as
a disciplinary measure, but Nick Dodge and Chris D'Alvise
decided to use the wooden branches in the wins over
Bowling Green and Miami.
Colgate, and Princeton are the only teams in the ECAC
Hockey League that have a sub-.500 overall record.
FRIES AT THE BOTTOM
OF THE BAG
• Union's T.J. Fox carries a six-game
point streak into this weekend's action and has 11 points
during the streak. Augie DiMarzo was dismissed from Union's
team by head coach Nate Leaman. DiMarzo, a sophomore forward,
ranked tied for third on the team in scoring at the time
of his dismissal. He was Union's second-leading scorer as
a freshman last year, with 23 points in 37 games.
• Brown freshman goalie Dan Rosen has
started four of the Bears' last five games and has been
sensational, winning three of the four games with the lone
loss being a 1-0 defeat at Dartmouth. Rosen has allowed
just six goals in those four starts despite seeing plenty
of shots. He's averaged 33.25 saves per game in the same
stretch, and has a .957 save percentage.
• Already without the services of Grant
Lewis, Dartmouth defenseman Ben Lovejoy missed Saturday's
game with a shoulder injury. The Big Green adjusted by moving
junior forward J.T. Wyman back to the blue line for the
3-3 tie against Quinnipiac.
• Princeton's 4-2 win at Harvard improves
an impressive 6-3-2 record for the Tigers at Harvard's Bright
Hockey Center in the 11 games played there between the teams
since the start of the 1996-97 season.
• Topher Scott has a seven-game point
streak for Cornell and has recorded at least one point in
eight of the team's 10 games so far.
• St. Lawrence and Clarkson begin a
stretch of three games in five days. It starts when the
North Country travel partners visit Yale and Princeton this
weekend. The Golden Knights and Saints then meet on Tuesday
at Cheel Arena in Potsdam.
• Vermont defeated Harvard in overtime
on Tuesday in a coaching matchup between former Crimson
teammates Kevin Sneddon and Ted Donato. Sneddon, most will
remember, was a longtime ECAC Hockey League coach at Union
and Vermont. He's got the Catamounts in second place in
Hockey East with a 5-1-1 league mark and an 8-4-0 overall
• The stat of the week comes courtesy
of Quinnipiac's games at Harvard (a 4-2 loss) and Dartmouth
(a 3-3 tie). The Bobcats were outshot by an identical total
in both games, 29-24.
• The seven members of Yale's class
of 2010 have had a significant impact on the team's 6-2-1
start. When healthy, all seven have dressed each night.
Rookie Sean Backman leads the team with nine points and
the newcomers have accounted for 14 goals and 30 points.
• ECAC Hockey League members have posted
a 9-5-1 record in non-league games since Thanksgiving.
A variety of sources were utilized in
the compilation of this report