Sunday, December 6, 2015

Four Coaches Sound Off

Seth Appert, Keith Allain, Ted Donato and Rand Pecknold, four veteran Division I coaches sound off as they approach the NCAA Holiday break. We'll start with Pecknold, whose Quinnipiac Bobcats are undefeated and enjoy the top pairwise ranking in the country. Despite jumping off to an historic start, Pecknold knows his 'Cats are far from perfect, especially with their propensity to take penalties. Here were his comments after taking four penalties in the second period against Yale Friday night.

"You know we go in spurts. They're young and they're immature and they're excited and they're into
PECKNOLD: We've got to be smarter. (USCHO)
it. You want them to be fired up so we got to play on that edge, but we got to be a little smarter." And on Landon Smith's brilliant snipe that proved to be a dagger to the rival Bulldogs: "He's a goal scorer. He had a two on one, he's got Sam Anas with you, everyone's thinking he's going to pass it to him, and he's just short side under the bar. That's a big time goal. He's got one of the best releases in the country, and we want him to use it, we want him to shoot that puck if he feels like he's got an opening."

Pecknold's Whitney Avenue rival Keith Allain's Yale squad has hit a low point, likely
ALLAIN's Struggling Bulldogs: We're Close
to plummet in the polls after being swept at home by Quinnipiac and Princeton. Here is where taskmaster becomes educator. Allain calmly assessed his club after being shut out by their Hamden neighbors. "I give them a 'B'. I thought Alex (Lyon) did a good job. We're close, but not where we need them to be. I've got a good group in there and we've got some work to do. There are a number of things: We have to be more efficient with our scoring opportunities, we had a number of good opportunities that we didn't execute very well; I think we need to be quicker to pucks; We need to have stronger sticks; We need to do a better job getting the puck out of our zone; on special teams tonight I thought our penalty kill was very good, our power play wasn't. Is that a long enough list for you?"

Three hours west in Troy, New York, Ted Donato was chafing after Harvard's ungratifying scoreless tie with RPI. A week prior his Crimson's offensive arsenal forced Notre Dame to take nine penalties resulting in three power play goals and an easy Harvard victory. On this night at the Houston Field House he felt the game was characterized by
DONATO: Officiating not where it should be. (Crimson)
blocking and tackling rather than skill, and that Division I hockey officials are struggling to maintain order on the ice. "In all honesty it turns into less than a hockey game, it was a wrestling match down there at the end. It's not healthy to have all these 0-0 games. Maybe that's just the status of hockey these days. We had 75 shots over the weekend and three power plays, it doesn't really make a lot of sense."
Q: Is it all the blocking and tackling out there? Is that the state of Division I hockey?
"I think so, I don't think it's anything to do with any particular team. If you look at the National Hockey League and college hockey in general, they don't really resemble each other in how the games are called. That's just the reality of it. I personally don't like it. The standard, in general, is not where it should be."

APPERT: Love conquers analytics (ECAC)
100 feet down the hall the loquacious Seth Appert was holding court with the Capital District media regulars. His Engineers have a winning record and is the only team to beat powerhouse Boston College, yet RPI is near the bottom of all the new puck-possession analytics. "Scoring chances, yeah, they're important, shots on goal are important, but what's really important is how hard you're playing for the other guys in the room, especially in college. It may be a little different in pro, but teams that have won at high levels here at RPI, the teams I've won with at Denver loved each other, loved the program, and wanted to do anything they could for each other. I thought we lost sight of that last year, and our older guys have done a really good job of that this year. Some teams play with each other, we need to be a team that plays for each other. Teams that play for each other will do anything for each other. They'll block shots, they'll take hits, they'll backcheck. Teams that play with each other only want to do things that they want to do. More often than not this season we've been a team that's played for each other. Teams that love each other and play for each other win, and that trumps analytics."

Love conquers analytics, that will be the final word as the Holiday season envelopes us.


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