VHG Coaches Blog; Good Trends and Not-So-Good Trends

Posted on November 22, 2022

After watching the 2022 U18 Monctonian from Thursday-Saturday, then shifting gears to Growlers Academy U13 3v3 hockey Sunday morning, it’s safe to say that I have watched a LOT of puck recently. Outside of watching for future QMJHL/MHL/Junior hockey stars – I try and look at trends within the games. Some of those trends are positive, some are negative. Lets review some of those trends below.

Positive Trend – The quality and depth of female hockey is increasing. I watched a match between Cape Breton West and College Claretain on Friday morning at the Superior Propane Centre in Moncton. Starting between the pipes for CB West was Rhyah Stewart, a 2006-born female goaltender. I don’t know the history of the Monctonian off the back of my hand, but I can guarantee there haven’t been many – if any – female goalies starting U18 Major games at that level. Stewart did not get the win, but the Islanders did not help her out with some run support (The Graal won the game 3-0).

In the U15 AAA division, the Central Impact were without their female goalie (Katie Hurley). I can all but guarantee that 2022 will mark the first-ever season in which the U15 and U18 Major divisions have at least one female goalie.

Lets rewind to October at the Atlantic Challenge Cup. Countless coaches from the Male teams were commenting on the female game being faster at the ACC than they remember it being. I might be biased (I was coaching one of the teams), but I think they’re right.

In the U13 3v3 Growlers Academy League on Sunday morning, some of the top players were females (great listeners, too).

Negative Trend – The overall lack of possession urgency. I watched an absurd amount of hockey at the Superior Propane Centre Rink B on Thursday. Outside of the Weeks Majors – who moved the puck like a pro team in their opening match – most teams struggled with the execution of passes (a little too far ahead of the target, a little too far behind, trying to make the tough play vs the easy play, forehand-to-backhand passes when it has to be forehand-to-forehand ie the PP).

Another common denominator was players dumping the puck in for the sake of ‘getting pucks deep’. I watched as players would get the half wall in 5-on-5 situations with strong side support – then rim the puck to the weak side where there was little support. Why does this happen? My guesses are the following:

*** prioritizing winning over development

*** players not wanting to ‘make a mistake’

*** under-valuing how precious possession is. If you have the puck on the half wall, feel some pressure and have no options, protect the puck/move/work the puck down or up the wall and buy some time for your team mates to get open/support you. Make the other team have to use precious energy to defend you/play defence. When your team has the puck, you’re in the drivers seat. You have the remote to the TV. You control the volume and the channel.

Positive Trend – NL players making major contributions in big spots. 7 months after Matty Butler and Marcus Kearsey turned heads at the QMJHL Cup in Montreal, East Coast Blizzard goaltender Carter Arnold put up a goose egg in his half of work @ the QMJHL Monctonian Prospects Game. Arnold’s play was good enough for Team Blue MVP honours. Growlers forward Noah Boland made scouts take a look down at their sheets when he walked in all alone off a neutral zone turnover and showed nice patience for a goal. It’s nice to see best-on-best events again after multiple COVID-19 washouts, and its even nicer to see NL’ers contributing in the bright lights. Declan Kennedy caught the eye of Puck Preps in this post-Monctonian article here .

5 NL Players and the Growlers Coaching Staff at the Monctonian QMJHL Prospects Game

Negative Trend – The rising cost to play hockey. Inflation hides from no one – from groceries to gas, prices are rising in just about everything that we need for every day life. Inflation has impacted hockey equipment, too – making costly items even more expensive. The new CCM Super Tacks X Hockey Helmet on Hockey Monkey is $529.99 + tax. Sweet baby Joseph that is eye-popping! The CCM ASV Pro (Senior) stick is $399.99 + tax – these sticks are like a mortgage payment! Our QMJHL CSR team was talking about this in one of our car rides – one of the boys commented ‘to outfit a player head-to-toe in top-of-the-line gear, paying full price, it would run a family around $4,000’ and he isn’t wrong. If someone wants to go price this up for me, be my guest.

*** Note – this does not include goalies. Soon, banks will be creating a ‘goalie parent bank loan’ department at their branches. I went online to look at senior goalie pad prices… I looked at the first line, my heart skipped a few beats, and I had to close my laptop before it spontaneously combusted.

Related Content

Our 2021 Monctonian Review Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKzzgR2OZiA

3 tips on navigating the purchase of hockey sticks article – https://vhghockey.ca/3-tips-on-how-to-navigate-the-purchase-of-hockey-sticks/

Our 2022 QMJHL Draft Analysis (Team Report Cards) – https://vhghockey.ca/2022-qmjhl-draft-analysis-report-cards-by-team/