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U.S. Sled Team Prepares for Canada Clash

12/04/2012, 10:15am MST
By Brian Smith

In the words of U.S. National Sled Team head coach Jeff Sauer, “now the tournament starts for us.”

Coming off an 8-0 rout of Japan last night that saw 10 different Team USA members record a point, the U.S. squad is preparing to face a tough Canada team that is sure to be the biggest test yet for a youthful U.S. roster at the 2012 World Sledge Hockey Challenge.

“We had to win those first two games,” Sauer said of the U.S. victories over Norway and Japan. “Because now we play the big guys. We play our archrivals Canada on Wednesday night.”

Josh Pauls (Green Brook, N.Y.), is also aware of the importance of facing the Canadian team on their home ice.
 
“It was a good effort I thought, for the whole team. It was nice to come out and play a good game, the full 45 minutes,” he said. “It’s all leading up to the game against Canada and we just want to improve every game, every shift.

The U.S. will take full advantage of a day off after two games in as many days, looking to recover for the clash with rival Canada tomorrow (Dec. 5), at 9 p.m. EST, here at the WinSport Canada Ice Complex in Calgary, Alberta. Both teams remain undefeated in the tournament and are set to face off in what could be a preview of the championship game on Saturday (Dec. 8).
 
Pauls, who netted two goals last night and was named the player of the game for the United States, noted the significance of a full-team effort in preparation for the matchup with Canada.
 
“It was huge [to have so many players contribute] because Canada has a lot of depth too, and we have 17 guys that are capable of playing with anybody in the world,” Pauls said. “It was important, especially for the new guys, to get the experience internationally, and hopefully we can take it to them.”
           
Sauer agreed, noting that the team was built for success from top to bottom.
“I think it says a lot about how we’ve tried to put the guys together,” the former Colorado College and Wisconsin coach said. “We’ve got pretty good balance through all three lines, which is very, very important. We know we can score offensively from the point; we’ve got guys back there that are very mobile. But the key for us is to get the forwards moving the puck and taking quicker shots.”
 
Despite the high-pressure game looming head tomorrow night, Team USA remains confident in their ability.
            
“We just have to build on what we do. The whole key to our team is to move the puck and use our speed and when we do that we’re a pretty good hockey team,” Sauer said. “They [Canada] have four or five guys that are very dangerous and I’ll prepare a game plan for when those guys are on the ice. The bottom line is that if we play our game, use our speed and quickness and get some good opportunities, we’ll be ok.”

Pauls echoed his coach's sentiment.

“We just have to use our speed,” the right-winger said. “We’re a fast team, we’re young team. We have to not worry about making mistakes because that’s where we get in trouble. If we can fly down the ice, dump the puck in, work on our forecheck and play like we can, we’ll be fine.”
 
Most of all though, defenseman Nikko Landeros (Johnstown, Colo.) noted, it’s about relaxing, being confident and having fun while they’re out on the ice.
“We always love coming out here. It’s a beautiful arena and we have a beautiful locker room and it’s a blast playing hockey up in Canada,” he said. “We’re having a blast … and whenever we play Canada it adds to it. We’re excited for tomorrow.”

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Three ways to beat burnout

11/28/2016, 9:45pm MST
By Dave Pond

According to NHL metrics, the average hockey shift lasts somewhere between 45 and 55 seconds. There’s inherent beauty and fluidity to line changes, as skaters come on and off the ice, looking to recharge after going full throttle for their teams.

Meanwhile, your NHL officiating peers are giving their all, too – regularly logging 4-5 miles a game. Those totals are even greater at your level, where you and your colleagues officiate multiple games a day, several times per week, on a seemingly never-ending calendar.

And, although we want to perform our best every game, everyone has both good days and bad – players and officials alike. To learn more about keeping burnout at bay, we went to the experts: longtime amateur hockey scheduler Larry Carrington and former NHL official Mark Faucette.

“There is so much more to officiating than meets the eye,” said Faucette, a 17-year NHL veteran. “It may look easy from the stands, but to maintain total control of a game along with the stress, slumps, supervisors, travel, and fitness regimen takes a very special kind of person.”

Get in shape (and stay there)
We all think we’re in “pretty good” shape, but the reality is, officials must be top athletes and in great condition – even at the youngest levels.

“Conditioning is very important—the deeper into the season, the more important it is,” Carrington said. “Burnout happens physically, mentally, and emotionally. An official who is in good condition will experience less physical burnout, and that will in turn help with the emotional and mental burnout.”

Faucette stresses following a workout routine that maxes yourself at least every other day. Neither player or official should plan to use games as a vehicle toward better physical fitness.

“Where we used to go to camp to get into shape, officials today are on summer conditioning regimens and are tested as soon as they come to camp,” he said. “Taking care of your body is a total focus for the good official.

“The players are so much stronger and faster now, so it’s imperative the officials keep the same pace.”

Find balance
No, not balance on your skates (that’s a given). Rather, make sure to keep the big picture in mind, to work a manageable schedule that includes everything that’s important to you – family, friends, and time away from the rink.

Although it makes Carrington’s job as an assignor more difficult, he said it pays off in the long run.

“I encourage officials to take at least one weekend off to get away from hockey,” he said. “I certainly don't want to lose their services for a week, but the invigoration that it usually provides makes them a much more valuable asset over the course of the season.”

That’s huge in an industry where both mental and physical fatigue are commonplace.

“Every official runs into slumps, just as players do,” Faucette said. “You spend numerous hours alone as an official, and when things are not going good, where everything is negative, it can cause you duress.

“Positive thoughts and self-evaluations speed up recovery,” he continued. “So, instead of telling yourself, ‘I wonder what bad thing will happen tonight?’ say ‘I’m ready for anything – bring it on!’”

Have fun
It’s No. 3 here, but should be No. 1 on your to-do list.

“I realize the officials are all trying hard, and mistakes are part of any sport by any participant,” said Faucette, who currently serves as supervisor of officials for USA Hockey, the NAHL director of player safety and the SPHL director of officiating. “That being said, the joy I get out of seeing a young official start out at ground level and making the big time one day is immeasurable.”

For most of you reading this, the “big time” might not be the end goal (and that’s OK). But wherever you are, there’s experience you’ve gained, as well as that to come – which both point back to why you first got involved in this great sport.

As an assignor, Carrington tries to get out of the office as much as he can and intentionally varies the schedules of his officials to help keep things fresh. He also encourages his more senior officials to lend a hand to those who aren’t as long in the tooth.

“Going to the rink and helping officials help themselves get better can be very invigorating,” he said. “Even a very good, very experienced official will often find it fun and relaxing to mentor some new official at a lower-level game where the stress levels aren’t nearly as high.”

But no matter where you officiate, Carrington emphasizes keeping one thing in mind: the love of the sport and those playing it today.

“If you’re not having fun, you shouldn’t be out there.”

Winning Never Goes Out Of Style For Hall Of Fame Coach

12/01/2016, 12:30pm MST
By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

Bill Belisle has coached for the past 42 seasons

Speaking from his heart, Coach touches the hearts of millions

12/01/2016, 12:15pm MST
By Harry Thompson - USA Hockey Magazine

Tag(s): World Sled Challenge