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Men's Team & Coaches Arrive in Sochi

02/10/2014, 12:00pm MST
By Cameron Eickmeyer & Harry Thompson - USAHockey.com

SOCHI, Russia - The last charter plane carrying the U.S. Men's Olympic Team players and coaches touched down here this afternoon and no time was wasted before the work began.

"Special teams was something we wanted to get to today," said head coach Dan Bylsma. "We accomplished all (practice goals)."

Among the goals for Bylsma and his staff was adjusting to the large Olympic sheet and expanded neutral zone. Having two more practices until game time gives the U.S. an extended chance to adjust to the element that has plagued some North American teams in the past.

After processing, credentials, checking into the Olympic Village and a team photo, the team took the ice at Bolshoy Ice Dome for its first practice. The practice started the blood moving after the long flights and also helped combat jet lag.

"I'm not sure what day it is and when I arrived," Bylsma said, adding that one of his goals with the first practice was to "get some junk out."

The players also said the practice was helpful with the time zone adjustment.

"Dealing with the sleepy eyes this afternoon was a bit of a struggle," forward David Backes said. "But I made it through. Good practice tonight to keep us up a little late then hopefully a nice long shutdown tonight to let us wake up feeling energized in the morning."

Pacioretty at Full Speed

Max Pacioretty crashed into the Carolina Hurricanes net in his final NHL game before heading to Sochi but showed no signs of injury during Monday night's practice.

"I feel good," he said. "Just tired."

Bylsma said he was nervous when he first heard of, then saw the replay of Pacioretty's injury, but then quickly learned that the injury was not serious.

"It was good to hear that he was doing pretty well and then after the game that he'd be alright to continue on and get over here," he said.

David Poile Not Coming to Sochi

U.S. Olympic Team general manager David Poile will not be traveling to Sochi to attend the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after being struck near the eye by an errant puck last Thursday.

Poile, the GM of the Nashville Predators, was standing in the hallway behind the Predators bench during Thursday morning skate prior to the game against the Minnesota Wild when a puck skipped out of the rink and hit him near the eye and nose area.

According to the Predators, he underwent two successful surgical procedures in the nose and eye areas and received stitches to repair a facial laceration at a hospital in St. Paul, Minn. He returned to Nashville on Sunday to receive additional treatment.

“As I told the team today, knowing how much passion, time and effort he has put into putting this team together it’s disappointing for David and for us that he can’t be here,” Ray Shero, the associate GM of the U.S. Team, said after the team concluded its first practice in preparation for Thursday’s first game against Slovakia.

“He’s still the general manager of this hockey team and over the last few days even when he was in Minnesota at the hospital before he left I was in touch with him in terms of the roster and will continue to be. I’m looking forward to his continued involvement and he is still the general manager of this team.”

Up Next for Team USA

The men's team practices again on Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. local time, the second of three practices before Thursday's game.

The men's team press conference will take place following the practice at 5:15 p.m.

The women's team practices at 3:30 p.m. and faces Canada on Wednesday.

Check back with Olympics.USAHockey.com for full coverage of the day.

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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.”

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Bill Belisle has coached for the past 42 seasons

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