Boys Hockey: Revels' pre-season notebookFarmington boys hockey coach Keith Revels kept a journal of his team's progress and performance during the recent run of pre-season scrimmages.
Wednesday, Nov. 17 at Lakeville South
We had two separate sessions, one involving potential varsity players and the other potential JV players. We do some skills and intersquad games on day 1 and 2 and used day 3 as an opportunity to see how the boys perform and react against players they are not familiar with. Not a lot of direct coaching takes place in a tryout scrimmage, mostly observation. Following this scrimmage we had to make some very difficult roster decisions. We had 42 skaters and 5 goalies vying for spots which is too many to house in our program. First 3 days are intense and stressful for players, coaches and parents knowing that we do not have room for everyone who has a desire to play. We met with all the players that evening and informed 31 skaters and 4 goalies they had made the team, we also met with those we could not keep to thanked them for their efforts and commitment to Farmington hockey. With a roster set we will use the weekend to settle players into JV or varsity slots and try various line combinations. Things will firm up this weekend a bit but our message to players is that the tryout process is ongoing and is only set when section rosters are due in February.
Overall we saw some good things from our players as a whole, we made some mistakes but saw players working very hard to make up for them. Things that we could take away from what we saw....
1. Defensive zone was not as tight as we need it to be, need to be aware of opposing forwards and account for them especially in the middle of the rink.
2. Need more movement from our players without the puck in d zone, neutral, and offensive zones. We have to support the puck carrier better when we have it and give some options to him.
1. Thought goaltenders played well in varsity session.
2. Backchecked and overall work ethic was good
After finishing tryouts (late) Wednesday evening we had icetime from 3:30-5:00 on Thursday with girls JV game starting at 5:15. Decided to have all 31 skaters and 4 goalies out together for a good skate. So heading into Friday evening scrimmage with Duluth Marshall we really had not had a team specific practice.
Friday, November 19
Got into Duluth and into hotel about 3:30 and had some down (rest) time until varsity took the ice at 6:15 and JV at 7:30 at Lakeview Arena in Duluth. Marshall is private school that has been near the top of the heap in Class A the last few years. They took it to us the first 10 minutes or so, but we found a groove after that and started to make a game of it. The last portion they were clearly in better hockey condition than we were and turned the tables again and ended 5-0 in their favor. Again our defensive awareness was suspect with forwards and defense alike too focused on puck carrier and leaving those away from the puck open to hurt us. We are working on keeping our composure as well, Friday night was not bad in that regard but could have been better. Our message this week to our players is to "stay above the line". In short, it means we are avoiding profanity, criticism of teammates and respecting officials. The effort put forth by our boys was what it needed to be, to date we have the makings of a hard working team.
Saturday, November 20
Saturday morning JV took the ice in at 8 a.m. and varsity at 9:30 in Hermantown. Hermantown is another perennial Class A powerhouse. Hermantown is most definitely a hockey town. With 9-12 enrollment of around 700 (about half ours) they had more players tryout for their team than we did. Injuries are already a factor with senior Matt Provost with bruised foot from South scrimmage. Saturday morning had senior Zak Payne bang up a knee a bit, senior Tyler Grubb nursing a tight hamstring, and senior Quinn Malcolm taking off second half of 90 minutes with soreness in the leg he broke last season. Despite some player out of lineup we played them tough, lost 4-1 but was much closer than score would indicate, they just finished opportunities better than we did. We played very physical, which is pretty much a necessity when playing a team that resides north of Hinckley. We did much better job in d zone. Could see our players looking for opposing forwards and engaging them. Also saw our defensive players begin to mix up our attempts to exit the zone...reversing the flow and finding other options besides the strong side wing on the hash marks. Also saw forwards making more of an effort to be available to our defenders, both center and weak side wing breaking to open ice and becoming options for us. We also did much better job staying above the line! Handberg netted goal on feed from Payne, he also clanked a crossbar a short while later. Jake Eldred earned a penalty shot with some hard work but was not able to convert.
Saturday session No. 2
Saturday afternoon we were back at Lakeview in Duluth for our last outing. St Cloud Apollo was the opponent someone we knew very little about. Game was up and down through the first half with neither team able to convert. Part of what we wanted to accomplish is to BEGIN to establish who plays well with whom. We found a punishing trio upfront in Quinn Malcolm, Trevor Hockert, and Blake Weinand. They were able to sustain some offensive pressure by finishing checks on opposing defenders. They converted this style into a couple of tally's. Handberg also netted another on feed from Grubb and Sorenson for the 3-0 finish. We saw continued improvement in our d zone, lots of puck movement and our players supporting the puck carrier. But most of all we saw the effects of a sustained physical style of play can have on a team. At games end, our total finished checks were 120 in the 50 session. If we can keep our hands and elbows down and play the body like we did this afternoon we are going to give teams some trouble. By the end of the scrimmage the Apollo players, especially their defenders, were not making plays like early on and could not get the puck off their sticks quick enough, they had clearly had enough. Even with the very physcial play we did great job staying above the line and keeping our composure. Our conduct on and off the ice was nice to see as well. Nice to end on good note before the trip home.
We have lots of work to get done this week, firm up some line combinations, cover specialties (powerplay and penalty kill), and continue getting into playing shape. We have a veteran lineup with a 11 seniors making the team, more than than the last 2 seasons. The effort to make this trip happen was time well spent as I have little doubt we returned a better hockey team than the one we left with. We have a great start to making this group of boys a team, not a finished body of work but a solid foundation has been laid. Special thanks to Tiger Fan Club for their financial help in making this trip possible.