By Luke Pierce, Head Coach
Merritt Centennials Hockey Club
Happy New Year everyone! Here’s hoping that 2011 brings good fortune to all of you and to our hockey team.
Before kicking off our 2011, we had some 2010 business to finish in Trail last Thursday. In our first game after an 11 day break, we put forth a more than admirable performance. In a strange twist of hockey fate, we outshot the Smokies 51-15 and literally dominated play for over 50 minutes, yet fell 3-2. It was likely one of our best efforts in all of 2010, and other than our inability to solve a hot goaltender, we had very little to be concerned about after the time off.
We opened 2011 on New Year’s Day against the Quesnel Millionaires, and managed to kick off the year with a victory, albeit in a less than stellar fashion. The important thing, as always, is that we got our points, but in the end we all know that we need to play much more consistently and with more desire and intensity than we did last Saturday.
Since returning from the Christmas Break we have taken some time to sit down with our players individually and discuss several aspects of not only individual play, but our team as a whole. The main goal in having these meetings was to ensure that we, as a coaching staff, were of a similar mindset as our players. We wanted to ensure that each player knew where they stood with respect to the team, and what was expected of them as we moved into the stretch drive.
Some obvious keys to our meetings were to identify aspects of each player’s game that we feel have been their strengths, and what areas we think can use some improvement. The benefit gained from having these meetings is it allows the players to take on some ownership in their own development, and in the development of our team.
We discussed with some of our players, mainly the veterans, what they felt our team needed as the trade deadline approaches. As expected, there were no significant concerns regarding our roster. Our players seem quite content with the group that we have here, and that is encouraging from a coaching standpoint. We don’t want to disrupt the strong team chemistry that has developed here, and all signs point towards us being fairly quiet as the deadline of Jan. 10 approaches.
In saying that, we do feel that we could use some added depth on defence. To most followers of our team, that might seem odd. Most would claim that offence is where improvement is needed. For one, a lot of teams are in search of offence and there just isn’t a lot out there, so the buying price would be significantly high.
Further, we believe that some of our players who have struggled offensively are due to break out of those slumps. They have stayed the course and their time will come. In adding depth to our defence, we believe we will be further strengthening what is the core of our team. We have strong goaltending, and an already strong group of 6 D-men, but, in adding a seventh blueliner, we will give ourselves some added security in the event of injuries, and the ability to alter our line-up depending on the strengths and weaknesses of our opponent.
Once again, Happy New Year everyone! We look forward to an exciting stretch run which is now officially underway. We encourage you to come and be a part of the action.