Reliable Safe and Intelligent Play
Steady Defense by Eels Defense – Junior Hockey News
Published: Wednesday, 24 Sep 2014
By: Frank Scarpaci
The Florida Eels General Manager Frank Scarpaci’s objective in building his two teams this past summer was to find a battery of steady defenseman. Sure we would like to find the likes of key defenseman like Cody Rogers and Brien Thompson who owned the Eels blue line for the past two years. Sure he would have love to have found guys who can move the puck with explosive speed and unusual goal scoring ability. But in reality most of those guys had aspirations of playing in the USHL NAHl USPHL Premier or BCHL. We were not going to sit back and dream or hope and pray that those guys were coming to us.
To the contrary, the Eels scouting staff had a directive: find steady defenseman. Other scouts at the showcases were looking for the player who was exceptional, or as they call phenomenal or gifted. Well folks I hate to say it but hopes and dreams doesn’t do it. You need to develop players and one key ingredient aside from skill set is to discern what players play responsible. Otherwise stated who plays steady?
Let’s see. Steady. To mean steady connotes constant, durable, reliable, safe, intelligent … Wow. If we can find defenseman like that we have the recipe for success. Defense is the hardest position to play. It requires the most intelligent players. You have to be able to play under pressure and not panic. Think about it. In the defensive zone, the defenseman on the breakout has a half of a second to make a decision to either pass to the strong side winger, or if he is covered , to read and to see if the center is open. If the center is covered look a good defenseman has to make a defense to defense pass behind the net for a weak side breakout. Maybe if everything is wide open in front of net a cross ice pass.
Think about it for a second – what if the defenseman panics. He passes to strong side winger who is being fore checked by a wing lock or a trap in the center. Or what if the defenseman is reckless and goes up the ice cross ice and we get bit ? These all result in turn overs.
Why do these things happen? The D man is inexperienced and forcing plays or too focused on offense. Well the more the D Men does these things foolishly, his brain will start to think they are proper and muscle memory will replicate it with out thought. That creates bad hockey sense.
That is why we look for the D man who is steady. We can take advantage of this attribute and build on this. We can mold these defenseman to do the right thing not just in practice but in game pressured scenarios. Yes players will make mistakes. Indeed hockey is game full of mistakes. In fact the key to winning is having a team that creates the few mistakes and not panic when it happens. To regroup on the bench and realize what has happen and immediately rectify the wayward ways.
Trust me it is a lot easier to mold players who play safe. Then from there we can build on the times and opportunities to take chances and igniting. It is the difference of taking control of the game and learning how to exploit other teams weaknesses rather than being unaware no hockey sense and playing reckless.
The Eels are elated insofar that we have these steady guys this year. Are they flawless ? Hell no! Do they make mistakes? Yes. But is there upside? Far more than 90% of the teams looking for the “phenom” to make the big plays. Sure the big play will happen once or twice a game. But remember the game is played for 60 minutes and that is what we need.
On the Elite side we have Doss Allen , Collin Whitt, Jonathan Appell , Brandon Halvorsen, Cory Richardson and Brandon Hotaling. These guys are living examples of what we want. All play steady. The reason why they all get power play and penalty kill time is they play steady and that means unwavering solid unshaken reliable etc. These are the guys who incrementally get better each practice each shift in a game each period and each game. That is part of our mosaic in player development for our defenseman .bthese guys will mature into the league leaders this year. Not because these are super stars but because they steady and that is what college coaches are looking for.
On our empire side this article defines each and every D Man. Just look at the boys: veterans Bill Boeberg Dan Condon, John Drummond, rookies Justin Click, Jared Vetter , Brian Kozek, Alex Parr. These guys are not doing anything fancy. But clearly doing a remarkable job: thus far so early in the season, Boeberg has 3 goals and 1 assist, Condon has 1 goal 2 assist, Klick has 1 goal 5 assist who is leading the league as a rookie. Then there is Brian Kozek and Jared Vetter who do not have any stats on the scoreboard but clearly their presence are known with their steady, reliable , safe and intelligent play. Yes and look that the coaches call on these two rookies with the same confidence as when they are calling upon the veterans. This has been great for our young rookie Alex Parr as we have time to nurture and develop him. Others would throw him into the wolves and teach him by baptism by fire. Again that merely forces a player to learn bad habits and is devoid of true player development. Not with the Eels.
So when you look at the Eels defense, think steady. We are here not to build junior players but to build future college players and that is precisely what the college coaches are looking for.