WOW, what a team! The NRSA Squirts are in full stride as we hit the half-season mark for the 2014-2015 season. The team is currently at the top of the Valley Hockey League (VHL) Squirt National division with a 15-2-2 record and a remarkable 104 goals vs. 47 goals for the opponents in 19 games. The Squirts lead all 225 VHL teams in wins, goals and goal differential…yes, 225 teams with 2600+ players!
The team welcomes new-comers to the Squirt team of Joe Gattuso, Vincent Pastore, Justin Daley and Jake Mikulski. These players have joined the Squirts to help form a strong team.
The players from last year’s Squirt 2 team have moved up to bond the new-comers and veterans into a formidable force. Jenna DiNapoli, Sam Elliott, Nathan Phillips, Alex Selverian, Patrick Tannian, Matt Young and Deven Tucker have combined in both offensive and defensive positions to help solidify the team.
The veteran group of Joey Collins, Max Hampoian, Cole Lopilato, Landon Phillips, Joe Repetto and Teddy Suny have led the new comers by example. These six players have accounted for over 70 of the 104 goals, while playing both offensive and defensive positions.
Sam Elliott and Deven Tucker have split the net-minder responsibilities and have been instrumental in keep the team in the win column with a sparkling 2.47 goals against average (GAA).
From 6 a.m. Saturday morning practices to getting their kids to the rink in the snow, sleet and hail, hockey moms are superheroes to their kids in many ways. But being a hockey mom isn’t just all about making sure that their kids are at the rink on time and that they’re fed and ready to go for puck drop. No, being a hockey mom also means that you’ll have to tend to several hockey-related emergencies every now and then. The good news is that many of these emergencies can be planned for ahead of time. With that being said, however, here’s a look at 7 things all hockey moms should always have on hand.
This is essential if your child plays travel hockey and you’re forced to venture away from your home rink to unfamiliar ones. You never want to be the mom who got her kid there late because you got lost finding the rink.
As a hockey mom, you’re on the go often, so sometimes there isn’t time to feed your child a real dinner before the game. To combat this, always have snacks ready to go. Foods like bananas, crackers and yogurt are all ideal pre-game eats. To drink, pack either water or Gatorade. Kids will be kids, but if you can help it, avoid the fast food drive-thru and instead opt for these healthy snacks.
Traffic delays are a hockey mom’s worst nightmare. So download an app, such as Waze, to map the best routes to take during rush hour times. Such apps take into consideration traffic, construction and can even alert you to police speed traps in the area.
It’s a long season and at some point, your child is likely to get sick. But a little bit of congestion or sinus pressure never stopped a hockey player, so be sure to have cold medicine on hand to administer right before a game or practice to help temporarily alleviate such symptoms so your child can be at his best.
Skate Sharpening Stones:
Skate blades are likely to incur little nicks over time – especially as they rattle around in the bags – which can throw off a player’s skating technique. Carry special skate sharpening stones in your purse. These can be quickly applied to the blade to buff out any nicks when they occur. They’re a quick fix compared to a full-blown sharpening, and can be easily done in the locker room.
Every player has been there before – you’re lacing up your skates in the locker room and one of them busts. Or the end becomes so frazzled that you can’t feed it into the loop of the skate to tie it. Having an extra set of hockey skate laces handy can alleviate this inconvenience and save the day.
It almost goes without saying; hockey equipment is rather smelly. Therefore, a huge asset – especially for out-of-town tournaments – is deodorizer spray or bag balls to help combat bad smells while equipment is airing out between games or even in the back of the car.
Hockey moms are already heroes, but they should also have these aforementioned supplies handy for when the unanticipated occurs. Doing so can will ensure that your child is prepared to play their absolute best each and every time they step out onto the ice.
Getting the stink out of your hockey gear at home: How to wash your hockey equipment in a washing machine!
I know there are a lot of hockey-moms out there, and what with hockey season starting up, I thought you might like to know that you don’t have to put up with the stink that starts seeping out of the hockey bags at this time of year. I’m going to share how I wash our hockey gear in the washing machine, effectively removing all traces of odor from it!
If you’re the mom of a hockey player, or the wife of one, you know the stink I’m talking about! That, “don’t come near me ’till you’ve washed your hands” stink. That “don’t bring that hockey bag into the house” stink. That “nose-offending, toe-curling, rotten-cheese” stink that, believe it or not, our hockey-playing kids and husbands find familiar and oddly comforting. GROSS!!
As much as a hockey player may be oblivious or even somewhat “attached” to the stench wafting out of their hockey bag, it really shouldn’t be ignored. That odor is sweat and bacteria that have permeated the equipment. Not only does it smell disgusting, if left unattended to, the hockey bag becomes a breeding ground, and eventually you can expect mould and mildew to start appearing on your gear, possibly breaking down the fibers in your equipment, causing it to deteriorate.
The best way to get rid of the stink in your hockey equipment:
The most obvious and easy way to help keep the smell under control, is to air the hockey bags out after every practice and game, laying all of the equipment out on the garage floor, or on the deck in the sunshine. My son often empties his bag beside the dehumidifier as well, which helps it to dry quickly, wicking all of the moisture out of the gear and the bag in a short amount of time. The most effective way I’ve found to remove bacteria and odor from all of his hockey equipment however, is to wash it at home.
How to wash hockey equipment in a washing machine:
Did you know you can wash all of your hockey equipment,except for the helmet and the skates, in your washing machine?
Yep! Your washing machine! Chest protector, elbow pads, shin-guards, jock, pants, socks, neck guard and even the GLOVES can ALL be put through aregular warm-water cyclein your washing machine. Depending on the size of your washer, you may need to divide your equipment into 2 or 3 loads.
Front-loader or Top-loader?
For front-loaders: Front-loading machines work best for this because they tumble clean the equipment, where-as in a top-loader the equipment may tend to float at the top of the water. To help prevent this from happening in a top loader, you can fill your machine, and then let your equipment soak in it for 10 or 15 minutes to help saturate and weight down the equipment before starting your wash cycle.
Detergent and laundry booster:
A commercial detergent is fine if that’s what you use, as long as it doesn’t contain bleaching agents which could deteriorate the fabrics/materials in your equipment.
Drying your hockey equipment:
The jock, socks, jersey and neck-guard can go in the dryer on low heat, but the rest should air-dry. I personally prefer to hang ALL of it on the clothesline on a breezy, sunny day. If you don’t have a clothesline, you can lay it all out on the patio or deck in the sunshine, turning it over occasionally until it’s dry.
The gloves in particular should never be forced to dry quicklyin a dryer or by the heat of a fire. Allowing them to dry slowly and naturally, prevents the leather palms from cracking.
As I’ve mentioned,do not wash your helmet in the washing machine.
Removing the odor from hockey skates:
Well, there’s not really much you can do about the skates, but I have heard that some people remove the insoles after every game/practice, and place newspapers in the skates to help speed up the drying process. In my experience though, the skates are the least stinky of all the items. It’s the gear and the GLOVES that smell the worst, and thankfully, you now have a solution for dealing with those!
Q-and-A with former high school and college coach Roger Grillo
Don't rush player development.
Offseason training, practice-to-game ratios, common misconceptions – there are plenty of questions about player development when it comes to youth hockey. Roger Grillo has the answers.
Grillo coached high school and college hockey for more than 20 years before joining USA Hockey as an ADM regional manager, where he serves the Massachusetts and New England districts.
Mass Hockey: Considering your exposure to so many ages, what do you see as some keys to creating an environment for player development?
Roger Grillo: I’ve often felt that, as a coach, you almost have to be an entertainer. You have to make the environment fun and entertaining so they want to come back the next day. You have to bring some energy and let the people around you know you’re part of something special.
Mass Hockey: What question are you asked about most when it comes to player development?
RG: It all depends on the individual situation. The biggest thing I try to explain to people is that there aren’t any shortcuts. There are a lot of people who want to be good, or say they want to be good, or pretend they want to be good, but are they really putting in the extra time and making the sacrifices? And I’m really speaking about the older kids here.
Mass Hockey: At the younger ages, is player development less deliberate?
RG: Absolutely. The biggest thing, what I tell people all the time, is at the younger ages, it’s having patience and almost pulling back and making sure you’re not doing too much.
Mass Hockey: When you refer to the younger ages and the older ages, is there a fine line there?
RG: The magic age, in my mind, is 13 or 14.
Mass Hockey: What are some misconceptions about player development?
RG: Well, I think the biggest one I see is that everybody is so focused on what team they’re on, what league they’re in, who they’re playing with, who they’re playing against. So the focus has really become the competitive model, when, in reality, you develop through the practice model. And the training model. Everybody’s so focused on the game model that they’ve really lost sight of where you really do get better.
Mass Hockey: If someone asks why their child shouldn’t play more games, what do you tell them?
RG: To me, and it depends on the age of the kid, but, especially at the younger ages, the sports science tells us you don’t get better playing games. What ends up happening a lot of times is that we rob the training model to feed the competitive model. And that’s where we’ve gotten in a very unhealthy scenario.
Mass Hockey: And how does cross-ice hockey relate to player development?
RG: At the younger ages, we’re trying to force the number of repetitions and touches. We were getting to the point where we had kids playing with three lines in a full-ice scenario – and some kids might be going the entire season without scoring a goal. And, so, it’s not productive for that kid. Then you have a kid who has some natural ability, and you give him or her a false environment by giving them time and space instead of forcing them to create it. The cross-ice model is there to protect both ends of the spectrum.
Mass Hockey: What is the best kind of offseason training?
RG: Well, at the younger ages, it’s playing other sports, just being active, developing your athleticism and being competitive. That’s priority No. 1. Then, as you get older, you have to have the passion to, you know, shoot a bucket of pucks a day, or get in the weight room.
Mass Hockey: When you meet a player at 13 or 14, what is it that you’re looking for in him or her?
RG: He or she has to have had the environment at a younger age where all the basic skills are in a good spot. Then, probably most important, it’s to have kind of that flicker of fire in their eyes to want to get better. Then you start talking about sacrifices being made as far as eating properly, sleeping properly and training properly away from rink.
Mass Hockey: Are we talking to some degree about personal development, too?
RG: Absolutely. No question. And that’s the mistake that people make. That by being in the same room with gifted players that it’s automatically going to happen. You have to put the effort in. You have to take the time to work at your game as you get older, and it’s not just going to happen accidentally.
There's one common thread to everything that happens in hockey. Every shot, every pass, every face-off, every save: it all happens on skates. Skating, in other words, is where hockey starts.
At the beginning of each season, young hockey players often look at different parts of the sport and focus on certain areas they want to improve upon. But when it comes to taking your game to the next level, consistently becoming a better skater is perhaps the most important part of any development path.
Chris Nagy, assistant coach at St. Mary's High School in Lynn, Mass., understands this well. Nagy believes skating to be among the most important skills for a successful hockey player. In his more than 10 years coaching, Nagy says he has seen players of all ages become better overall because they dedicated themselves to becoming better skaters.
"I've seen it a lot. Plenty of kids come along who have a great hockey head or great hands, but they struggle with their skating," Nagy says. "Improving their skating is like improving any other skill, running drills and working on muscle memory so they're not wasting motion and move well without hesitating."
Like passing or shooting, improving skating from year to year takes the same type and level of commitment—focusing on specific parts of moving up and down the ice and repeating the movements. Not everyone is going to fly around the ice like the fastest NHL players. But it's not about being the fastest skater, it’s about becoming the best skater a young man or woman can be.
According to Nagy, he's seen many instances where skating, as important as it is, is overlooked by parents.
"Sometimes they get a little too focused on stickhandling or shooting," Nagy says. “Sending kids to different camps is great, but working on each part of the game, especially skating, helps kids out the most."
Steve McKenna of South Boston agrees. His son, also named Stephen, recently made his NCAA debut at the University of Alabama-Huntsville and he believes a commitment to skating landed his son the opportunity to play college hockey.
"We were always at the rink, working on skating," McKenna recalls. "Our practices, especially when he was younger, were mostly about learning to skate and to move with the puck on your stick. It's the basis of the sport. That repetition, stopping and starting, crossing over and moving with the puck is where it all starts."
A longtime coach in South Boston, McKenna has seen several young players advance through to higher levels of the game due to a focus on skating. Conversely, he's seen just as many fail to reach their full potential because they neglected their skating skills.
"When kids are just starting out, they need to start building those skating skills," McKenna explains. "It's great to develop a great shot or pass well, but it's hard to become the player a kid can truly become if [he or she] isn't a good skater."
For any player, it's important to see improvement in every part of the game each season. But maximizing a young player's potential starts with one critical foundation: becoming a truly great skater.
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