Observations from the Rink – Early December Edition

Posted on December 8, 2022

Surprise surprise – I watched a lot of hockey this past week. One stop in Paradise for U15A Male action between Paradise and Northeast, followed by some U18AAA Male between Tri-Pen and Central wrapped up with some Eastern-Western U18AAA Female at the CBS. Here’s a couple of observations!

Before we get started, would like to congratulate Reegan Hiscock on his commitment to Northeastern University for the 2024-25 season. Reegan lit the world on fire as a member of the Pinnacle Growlers last season, and has continued his hot streak this season with the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies. Look out for this kid in the future – I think he’s going to be a high level pro.

Observation 1 – Warm-up etiquette at all levels has to improve. 

In the U15A game, players were running the standard 2v1 drill (up top criss-cross) but were playing the 2v1 like a game. Late passes, D playing the 2v1 like it’s the 7th game of the Cup finals… uh, nadda. 

Warm-up is for two major purposes. One, to get the blood flowing/hands in sync. Two, to warm-up the goalies. In a standard 2v1 warm-up drill, after the criss-cross happens, the D does a couple of cross-overs and bails on the play. The person who obtains the puck on the 2v1 off the criss-cross is going to shoot it into the goalies pads/body (if he/she is your starter) and pick some corners if it’s the back-up. NO DEKING. If you want to do a little deke when the drill switches and there’s no goalie in there, have at ‘er. I learned my lesson on deking a goalie in warm-up my U18AAA season. I deked our starter – Ryan Mior (who went on to be one of the QMJHL’s all-time great goalies, I think he still holds the league record for shutouts in a season) – and he shot a puck at me/threw a few profanities my way.

I also despise the 3 line shooting from the blue line drill in warm-up for multiple reasons. For one, half the shots hit the back wall so it does not warm-up the goalies (see above paragraph). For two, shooters are standing completely still so it doesn’t get the blood flowing. Last but not least, players at the younger levels often struggle to control the height of their shot so it’s a recipe for your starter to take pucks off the bucket. 

Some things in life just don’t mix. Like lamb and tuna fish (Big Daddy movie reference). The 3 line shooting drill and hockey warm-ups, in my opinion, do not mix. 

Observation 2 – Haley Ryan has to play USPORT hockey next year. 

It would be absolutely criminal if Haley Ryan is not wearing a USPORT uniform in 2023-24. Ryan had 5 goals (not a typo, more than 4 less than 6) against the injury-riddled Western Warriors on Saturday night and could very well set a high school female hockey record for goals this season (if stats are kept) with the Waterford Valley High Warriors. Ryan’s IQ, agility and skill will play at the USPORT level and her performance at every event so far this year confirms it. Ryan and Cassie Drover are just steamrolling the U18 Female League much like Jolena Gillard did before her 4-year stint @ UPEI (USPORT). 

Observation 3 – The U18AAA Female format in 2022-23 is 1,673X superior to the 1X a month tournament concept from previous seasons. 

Less time in-between games. Love it! Personally, I’d love to see a 36-game regular season at the U15/18AAA Male and Female level (2 x 4 game weekends October, November, December, January; 1 4 game weekend in February). Playoffs mid-February to late March, Atlantic’s in early April. Note – this is a ‘perfect world’ scenario where there are no snowstorms, power outages, etc etc etc. Just because I’d love to see it doesn’t mean it makes logistical sense.

Observation 4 – The Tri-Pen Osprey are going to be a tough out in U18AAA Male. 

The best way to describe the Osprey in a sentence would be “they find ways to make it work”. The Osprey put together a D corps of third year players with no prior U18AAA experience (Rorke, Nolan, et al). One of their goalies (Kirby) has never played AAA hockey before.. at all. Not U13, 15, or 18 up until September. One of their top scorers (Crane) was a guy that – to my knowledge – was an AP his first year U18 and I don’t recall seeing him on the TP Ice U15AAA teams in the years that I coached the Hitmen. Their head coach has no prior U18AAA coaching experience (to my knowledge). Yet this Tri-Pen club are above .500 and are nipping at Central’s heels for 3rd place in the NLU18 Major standings (with 3 games in hand). 

No one wants to face this club in the first round. Crane and running mate Nick Crosbie have shown that they can carry not just a line, but a team (65 points between them in 2022-23). Lets not forget the Ryken Young factor, either. Every defenceman in the league can hear Young coming – he is one big and strong choo-choo train. Couple all this with strong goaltending and the Osprey will be a tough out come February. 

Related Media

2022-23 Tri-Pen Osprey Team Preview Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5psnKWyGAQ4

1 Reason why any team could win the U15AAA Male Provincials this year Article – https://vhghockey.ca/1-reason-why-any-team-could-win-a-tight-u15aaa-provincial-title-in-22-23/

4 Bold statements to begin the 2022-23 season Article – https://vhghockey.ca/4-bold-statements-to-begin-the-2022-23-season/