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Veteran captains lead Dells Ducks to Minnesota Division title

02/27/2014, 5:45pm MST
By Tom Robinson - Special to

With 10 players returning to the Dells Ducks this season, coach Bill Zaniboni had no doubt who he wanted leading his Minnesota Junior Hockey League team: defenseman Jacob Stima.

“We talked to Jacob over the summer and named him captain in our first training camp in July,” Zaniboni said.

The Ducks have gotten the results Zaniboni was seeking.

With Stima leading the way — he is tied for third in the division in scoring despite playing defense — Dells has clinched the Minnesota League Minnesota Division title.

Stima has piled up 22 goals — seven on the power play and five game-winners — while adding 38 assists in 38 games. He left the team long enough to play two Tier II junior games with the North American Hockey League’s Janesville Jets in September, but moved right back into his leadership role upon his return.

“He’s had no remorse for coming back and leading this team,” Zaniboni said. “He’s a special teams guy.

“He’s a game-changer.”

Stima would like to help the Ducks change their postseason results.

“We have 10 guys back from last year when we were a goal away from going to nationals,” said the 20-year-old from Roscoe, Ill. who also served as a captain in his youth and high school days. “We still have that bitter taste in our mouths. We all know what it feels like and don’t want it to happen again.

“We want to make nationals and represent ourselves well at nationals.”

Stima is helping the Ducks surge toward the finish with seven goals and 14 assists in an 11-game winning streak. That includes three goals and four assists in a 9-3 win over the Rochester Ice Hawks on Feb. 8.

After clinching the division title with Friday’s 6-2 victory over the Hudson Crusaders, the Ducks proved they were not ready to slow down when Stima had three assists in Saturday’s 6-0 win over the Crusaders.

“I think the biggest thing for our success this year is our veteran leadership from our four captains,” Zaniboni said. “They’re all veterans from last year. They’ve been to the finals and they had it taken away from them.

“It fuels the belly a little bit and, for most of these guys, this is their last year.”

Layne Martin, Joey Bower and Collin Cross serve as the alternate captains.

Martin, 20, from Findlay, Ohio, leads the division in assists (45) and points (64). He played seven games with the Soo Eagles during the first half of the 2012-13 NAHL season.

“He came down with one of the most humble attitudes you find out of a Tier II guy coming to Tier III,” said Zaniboni, who praised Martin for being an outstanding student who works long hours at night to pay for his junior hockey and try to open up a college opportunity.

Bower, a 20-year-old from Crystal Lake, Ill., has committed to St. Mary’s University in Minnesota. He has shown big improvement in consistency from last year, producing 20 goals and 28 assists in 43 games.

While Zaniboni discussed his team, which is 36-5-0-2 with a league-low 101 goals allowed, Bower was on the ice helping coach youth hockey players.

Cross is the youngest of the captains. The 19-year-old from Simsbury, Conn. has committed to play Division III hockey at Framingham State in Massachusetts. He has seven points in 33 games.

“He’s one of the most intense individuals I’ve ever met,” Zaniboni said. “He’s a workhorse on and off the ice.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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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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