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[book review] The Hockey Drill Book

September 11, 2016 Leave a comment

 

Hi folks! I’m pleased to bring you another book review your way from the hockey world. This time, “The Hockey Drill Book”, by Dave Chambers. Boasting 500 drills to better the skills of every player on the ice, this book is a fantastic resource that would be advantageous to anyone coaching hockey at any level to possess. Every coach (and player) has a number of drills memorized that they’ll often repeat over and over at practices — dipping into Chambers “Drill Book” is a sure-fire way to expand a coach’s drill repertoire. 

“The Hockey Drill Book” gives coaches an astounding 500 drills to better develop and serve their team practices or single player sessions with. The book features 18 chapters worth of situation specific drills — everything from warm-ups, to odd and even man scenarios, breakouts, offense, defense, position focus, special teams, conditioning, skill evaluation, and even some fun drills and games (coaches of young kids should dog’s ear this section). Further, each drill presented features an illustrated diagram and easily understandable step-by-step instructions as to how the drill is to be carried out.

Each chapter is also prefaced with an introduction to the focus of each section, which provides helpful insight to the reader as to what the desired learning and development outcomes for each drill are. 

Additionally, the book is introduced with a Forward from Tom Renney, President and CEO of Hockey Canada. If Chambers and his book are good enough for the boss of the world’s #1 hockey nation, chances are this book will work for you too. 

A suggestion I would offer is that if there were to be a third edition of this book, is to include a DVD or something similar of the drills being carried out on the ice as a companion to the book for coaches and players who may learn better by seeing.

Whatever your reason for seeking a compendium of hockey drills, “The Hockey Drill Book” will undoubtedly prove to be an invaluable resource to you, no matter what point of your season or career you are picking it up in. I highly recommend this book to any hockey coach — veteran or new — looking for some fresh takes on skill development for his or her team. 

Enjoy!

SDC

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OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

the-hockey-drill-bookThe best-selling hockey drill book returns, bigger and better than ever! Featuring 500 drills focusing on skill development, the second edition of The Hockey Drill Book is the most comprehensive resource for every hockey coach and player!

Whether you’re new to the game and seeking to develop and improve on the game’s most basic skills, or you’re a seasoned vet looking to take your game to new heights, The Hockey Drill Book is the ultimate collection of the top drills that you must add to your locker!

Author Dave Chambers has coached hockey for four decades at all levels, and in virtually every corner of the globe where the sport is played (the Russian Ice Hockey Federation translated and distributed the book to its coaches). This updated second edition of The Hockey Drill Book reflects the best 500 drills from hockey coaches worldwide, highlighted by 54 all-new drills. Accompanied by illustrations and diagrams, the drills focus on evaluating, developing, and improving players’ skills and technique at all positions and cover shooting, passing, goaltending, and skating. Additional drills improve players’ physical conditioning and in-game strategy and decision making for situations such as power plays, penalty kills, face-offs, and breakouts.

About the Author: 

authorchambersDave Chambers has coached hockey for more than 40 years from key developmental levels to the National Hockey League and international competition. His experience with all types of players and styles makes him well suited for teaching the ever-evolving game that is a blend of the European and North American styles. Chambers has won two gold medals in World Championships, five university championships, and five Coach of the Year awards. He was named Master Coach by the Canadian Hockey Association and was inducted into the York University (Toronto, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame in 2006 and the University of British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.

Chambers was an assistant coach with NHL’s Minnesota North Stars and head coach of the Quebec Nordiques. He coached the Canadian national junior team to the gold medal at the World Junior Championship in Moscow in 1988, the Canadian team to the championship in the International Spengler Cup Tournament in Switzerland in 1987, and the Canadian student national team to the silver medal at the World Student Games in 1985.

His university coaching career spanned 14 seasons while he earned a record of 334-110. Chambers coached at the University of Saskatchewan and the University of Guelph before holding the head coaching position at Ohio State University, where he won the CCHA Championship. He then coached at York University in Toronto, where his teams won three division championships, three Ontario championships, and a Canadian National Championship.

Chambers holds a PhD in sport science and was director of the coaching program at York University in the School of Kinesiology and Health Science. Chambers has written books and articles on coaching ice hockey and has made numerous presentations worldwide. He lives in Collingwood, Ontario.

What Others Are Saying: 

“For more than 40 years Dave Chambers has been sharing his exceptional knowledge and wisdom as a coach, teacher, and specialist within the world of hockey. His brilliant forward-thinking instruction guides are long lasting yet new to coaches everywhere. He is a world-renowned student and teacher of the game and a man I admire and greatly respect. His information is useful to coaches everywhere.”

Lou Vairo — Director of Special Projects, USA Hockey

The Hockey Drill Book demonstrates Dave Chambers’ intimate knowledge of the game. He has the ability to simplify every skill set. This collection of drills is an absolute must for individual player and team development.”

Ken Hitchcock — Head Coach, St. Louis Blues

Sample chapters of the book: 

  1. A typical practice
  2. Neutral zone puck exchange
  3. Protect the puck and shoot for the goalie
  4. Power play breakouts and double double with a drop

Human Kinetics logo“The Hockey Drill Book” is available for purchase in paperback, Kindle, and e-book versions from the Human Kinetics bookstore and Amazon. You can also search for ISBN-10: 149252901X or ISBN-13: 9781492529019 through your favorite bookstore.

 

[book review] Total Hockey Training

April 17, 2016 Leave a comment

Hi folks! I’m pleased to bring you another book review from the hockey world your way. This time, “Total Hockey Training”, by Sean Skahan. Whether you are a certified trainer working with hockey player clients, or perhaps you’re a player yourself looking to take control of your own off-ice regimen, Skahan’s “Total Hockey Training” is a resource that you’d do well to add to your library. 

Skahan does a marvelous job of presenting extremely thorough programming for every caveat imaginable for a hockey player — pre-season, in-season, and off-season periodizations are all covered, and further broken down into deeper specifics for minor hockey, junior, college, and pro level players. Further still, forwards, defensemen, goaltenders, and even injured/healthy scratch/red shirt players have sections that speak to them. 

As Skahan delves into the training programming itself, every facet is hit — pre-training (warm-up), core, strength and power, acceleration and speed, flexibility, and conditioning, and even a few on-ice drills. Each chapter includes visual aids for each for each step of each exercise suggested, and the closing chapters include comprehensive tables for a 12 week program, with day-by-day and week-by-week instructions as to the exercises to perform and their frequency, intensity, time, and type. There are also backtracks to the page numbers of the exercise instructions and descriptions in the book for reference. 

Whatever your reason for seeking a book on hockey training, “Total Hockey Training” will be an invaluable resource to you, no matter what point of your season or career you are picking it up in. I highly recommend this book to any player or trainer. 

-SDC

***WANNA WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK? READ THROUGH THE REVIEW BELOW, AND FIND OUT HOW!***

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OFFICIAL PRESS RELEASE:

Achieve the best physical condition year-round with Total Hockey Training and be ready to dominate on the ice.

total hockey trainingIn Total Hockey Training, Sean Skahan, strength and conditioning coach for men’s hockey at Boston University, brings you the exercises and drills that have been used in conditioning some of the greatest players in the world. Whether you’re just entering the off-season or chasing playoff contention, this resource has you covered with season-specific programming that will help you take your game to new heights. With ready-to-use programs for all player positions and various levels of play, you have everything you’ll need to train year-round. As you progress, you’ll have access to personal assessment programs that will help you determine your strengths and weaknesses so that you can modify programs to fit your individual needs.

Physical conditioning for hockey is a year-round requirement if you want to outperform your competition. With Total Hockey Training, you have the tools you need to elevate your game and perform at your peak.

About the author:

Sean-SkahanSean Skahan was named the head strength and conditioning coach for men’s ice hockey at Boston University in 2015. Prior to taking the position, Skahan was the strength and conditioning coach for the National Hockey League’s (NHL) Anaheim Ducks for 13 seasons, where he was responsible for the overall strength and conditioning program for all players in the Ducks’ system.

Before working with the Ducks, Skahan was the assistant strength and conditioning coach at Boston College and at the University of North Dakota. While earning his master’s degree in kinesiology, Skahan worked as a graduate assistant strength and conditioning coach at the University of Minnesota. He earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from the University of Massachusetts at Boston.

 

What others are saying about Skahan: 

“Sean Skahan is one of the top strength and conditioning coaches in the hockey world. His wealth of experience at the collegiate and professional levels will help all players achieve their goals.”

Michael Boyle
Founder, Mike Boyle Strength and Conditioning
Former Strength and Conditioning Coach, Boston University and Boston Bruins

“I was very fortunate to work with Sean while I played with the Ducks. He helped me to perform at my best and stay healthy. Sean has a great understanding of what it takes physically to compete in the NHL.”

Scott Niedermayer
Former NHL Defenseman
Anaheim Ducks and New Jersey Devils

“In Total Hockey Training, Sean Skahan draws from his extensive experience as a strength and conditioning coach at both the collegiate and professional levels to provide coaches and players with proven year-round physical training regimens that enhance on-ice performance and reduce injuries.”

Bruce Boudreau– Head Coach, Anaheim Ducks

 

Want a free sample before you buy? Preview “Total Hockey Training” with these selected topical excerpts:

Chapter 1: Seasonal Scheduling and Logistics

Chapter 2: Testing, Evaluating, and Tracking Progress

Chapter 9: Conditioning

Human Kinetics logo“Total Hockey Training” is available for purchase in Paperback, e-book, and Kindle versions from the Human Kinetics bookstore and Amazon. You can also search for ISBN-10: 1492507091 or ISBN-13: 9781492507093 through your favorite bookstore.

***TO WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF “Total Hockey Training”, DO THE FOLLOWING:

1. ANSWER THIS TRIVIA QUESTION: Who is the strength and conditioning coach for your favorite NHL team? (note trainer name and team)

2. TELL ME WHAT TEAM AND/OR PLAYER(S) YOU CURRENTLY TRAIN, OR ASPIRE TO TRAIN (I want to give this to a fellow trainer).

Good luck!***

3rd Annual Jeju Cup Summer Classic registration form

April 16, 2016 Leave a comment

The highly anticipated, fiercely contested 3rd Annual Jeju Cup Summer Classic Ball Hockey Tournament will be held on Sunday May 22nd  at the Jeju City inline rink. Players of all skill levels are invited to participate in an full day of ball hockey action — the fifth tournament the Jeju Islanders Hockey Club has hosted to date. Each team will battle it out for the chance of having their names engraved on the prestigious Jeju Cup!

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1154936741206876/

Help us raise funds for the Jeju Islanders Hockey Club so we can continue to grow the sport of hockey in Jeju, and help support worthy charitable causes. As of now, all Jeju Islanders weekly games and events rely solely on donations and out of pocket payments to operate. As our team has grown to regular weekly games of over 20 participants each week, and tournaments with attendance many times that, so have our required expenditures increased. Currently, we need funding for:

Summer Classic 2016-Current and future tournament/event costs.
-support of local kids hockey programs.
-Equipment:
-new sticks as old ones break, and to accommodate our rising amount of players.
-stick tape.
-street hockey balls.
-goalie equipment.
-scoreboard.
-equipment maintenance.

To reach our financial goals, we’ll have mini-game prizes, raffle items, t-shirts, hats, and toques for sale, concessions, and our registration fee that gets you a full day of tournament games, and lunch.

We are actively seeking players, volunteers, and sponsors to make this effort a success.

If you’d like to be a part of the competition and the effort, fill out this registration form:

********

Once you’ve filled out the registration form, COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION and secure your spot in the tournament by transferring 30,000 KRW via ATM bank transfer to:

Bank: ShinHan

Acct Holder: Allan Moore

Acct #:  110-396-549650

To get to the rink, get yourself to the Jeju City bus terminal on the 1132 highway. Head south a few blocks and fade a little east. It’s right beside the swimming pool in the Sports Complex. Here’s a map link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jeju.island.hockey/files/

rink map

Bring your own stick if you have one, but if not, we have plenty of extras for you to borrow.

We’ll divide up our players into an even number of teams via draft at The Bar in Jeju City (we will sort and balance the teams according to skill level, don’t worry) to keep things even and fun. 5 on 5, with goalies!

Goalie gear and hockey sticks are provided.

If you can’t play, feel free to come by as a spectator.

Here’s some press of our previous tournaments:

Inaugural Jeju Cup: http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=4231
Inaugural Jeju Cup Winter Classic: http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=4518
Winter Classic semi-final shootout (video):

See you at the rink!

jeju islanders

 

 

-Jeju Islanders Hockey Club

[book review] The Hockey Coaching Bible

December 13, 2015 2 comments

Hi folks! If you’re looking for gift ideas for the hockey coach in your life, or are wanting to build your own coaching skill set up, look no further than “The Hockey Coaching Bible” next time you’re in your favorite bookstore or shopping online. 

Editor Joe Bertagna teams up with 15 other current and/or former coaches to bring readers 16 chapters that each approach a unique sector of hockey. Individual skills for forwards, defencemen, and goaltenders are all addressed, as well as practice plans and drills for team skills like defensive, offensive, and neutral zone play (the included diagrams that accompany the drill descriptions are particularly helpful and thorough), as well as penalty kill and power play. Beyond the technical points of the sport, the book goes in depth on scouting opponents (both domestic and international), building a team from scratch and harnessing the support of the community, ethics behind the bench, and more off-ice topics. Basically, it all but goes out on the ice and does all the coaching for you.  

The only minor drawback to this book in my opinion is that it is set with a heavy slant towards NCAA/American hockey that some readers may not feel they relate to. With that being said, the skills and concepts taught in this book undeniably apply to all levels of hockey, and are easily adaptable to fit any coach’s current entry point to the game. It also does a great job of including female hockey into its presented narrative. I don’t hesitate to recommend this book to any current or aspiring coach, or to any current player looking to gain some sapience that he can bring to his or her team. Also, calling itself the hockey “bible” might be a little sensationalized, but it is a truly great and expansive resource, and a definite and necessary upgrade from its predecessors like “The Hockey Handbook” from the 1950’s. 

“The Hockey Coaching Bible” is an extremely helpful resource for any aspiring or current hockey coach. The insights found within it made me have to fetch my highlighter so I could highlight many profound sections that I wanted to be able to recall later. I have already put some of the book’s acumen into practice during my own coaching sessions. To continue to be good conveyors of knowledge, coaches and teachers of any kind should never stop learning — hockey coaches who add this book to their repertoire will give themselves a boost in this department for years to come.

-SDC

***WANNA WIN A COPY OF THIS BOOK? READ THROUGH THE REVIEW BELOW, AND FIND OUT HOW!***

==================================================

Featuring the insights, strategies, and experiences of the sport’s top coaches, The Hockey Coaching Bible sets a new standard for those who teach the game, develop the players, and dominate the ice. Whether head coach or assistant, at the youth level or professional, you will find a wealth of information to improve performance and strengthen your program.

You’ll go inside the game with 16 of hockey’s most respected teachers:

  • the hockey coaching bibleTom Anastos
  • Joe Bertagna
  • Mike Cavanaugh
  • Bill Cleary
  • Rick Comley
  • Mark Dennehy
  • Mike Eaves
  • Guy Gadowsky
  • George Gwozdecky
  • Nate Leaman
  • E.J. McGuire
  • Marty Palma
  • Jack Parker
  • Mike Schafer
  • Ben Smith
  • Hal Tearse

Every facet of coaching is covered. The book features the most effective drills for developing players at each position and in-game strategies for various game situations, including offensive, defensive, and neutral-zone play and power plays and penalty kills.

In addition to on-ice Xs and Os, you’ll find sage advice for building a program from the ground up, furthering your professional development as a coach, and gaining community and parental support for projecting a positive image and earning the respect of your players and supporters.

Never has there been a more comprehensive coaching resource on the game. With The Hockey Coaching Bible, you’ll build your program into a powerhouse.

About the Author:

BertagnaJoe Bertagna has been a collegiate hockey administrator for more than 30 years. Since 1997, he has served as commissioner of Hockey East, the preeminent conference in college hockey, whose member schools have earned seven NCAA championships under his leadership. Before his move to Hockey East, Bertagna served 15 years with the Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC), where he held the positions of tournament director, executive director, and commissioner. Both with ECAC and Hockey East, Bertagna has been a champion of women’s hockey, having initiated ECAC Division I and Division III league play and led the formation of the Women’s Hockey East Association, whose championship trophy is named in Bertagna’s honor.

In addition to his commissionership of Hockey East, Bertagna is executive director of the American Hockey Coaches Association, a position he has held since 1991. He also serves on the board of directors of both USA Hockey and the Hockey Humanitarian Award Foundation. For 40 years Bertagna has operated his own clinics for thousands of goalies of all ages.

 

Preview “The Hockey Coaching Bible” with these selected topical excerpts:

Respect for rules and officials: Tom Anastos — Michigan State Head Coach

Gap control: Jack Parker — Boston University

Practicing the power-play breakout: George Gwozdecky (Denver University) and Michael Zucker (Bench Metrics)

“The Hockey Coaching Bible” is available for purchase in Paperback, e-book, and Kindle versions from the Human Kinetics bookstore and Amazon. You can also search for ISBN-10: 0736062017 or ISBN-13: 978-0736062015 through your favorite bookstore.

Human Kinetics logo

=============================

***TO WIN YOUR OWN COPY OF “The Hockey Coaching Bible”, DO THE FOLLOWING:
1. ANSWER THIS TRIVIA QUESTION: Who won the 2015 Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coaching of the year?

2. TELL ME WHAT TEAM YOU CURRENTLY COACH, OR ASPIRE TO COACH (I want to give this to someone who needs it).

Good luck!***

 

2nd Annual Jeju Cup Winter Classic ball hockey tournament registration form

December 3, 2015 Leave a comment

cover shot
The highly anticipated, fiercely contested 2nd Annual Jeju Cup Winter Classic Ball Hockey Tournament will be held on Saturday December 13th at the Jeju City inline rink. Players of all skill levels are invited to participate in this one full day of ball hockey action — the fourth tournament the Jeju Islanders Hockey Club has hosted. Each team will battle it out for the chance of having their names engraved on the prestigious Jeju Cup!

Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/912667562141522/

Help us raise funds for the Jeju Islanders Hockey Club so we can grow the sport of hockey in Jeju, and help support worthy charitable causes. As of now, all Jeju Islanders weekly games and events rely solely on donations and out of pocket payments to operate. As our team has grown to regular weekly games of over 20 participants each week, and tournaments with attendance many times that, so have our required expenditures increased. Currently, we need funding for:

Jeju Cup Winter Classic 2015-The rental or construction of an equipment storage facility (currently we rely on team volunteers to store and hustle the gear each week).
-Current and future tournament/event costs.
-support of local kids hockey programs.
-Equipment:
-new sticks as old ones break, and to accommodate our rising amount of players.
-stick tape.
-street hockey balls.
-goalie equipment.
-jerseys.
-scoreboard.
-equipment maintenance.

To reach our financial goals, we’ll have mini-game prizes, raffle items, t-shirts, hats, and toques for sale, concessions, and our registration fee that gets you a full day of tournament games, and lunch.

We are actively seeking players, volunteers, and sponsors to make this effort a success.

If you’d like to be a part of the competition and the effort, fill out this registration form: ********

Once you’ve filled out the registration form, COMPLETE YOUR REGISTRATION and secure your spot in the tournament by transferring 30,000 KRW via ATM bank transfer to:

Bank: ShinHan

Acct Holder: Allan Moore

Acct #:  110-396-549650

To get to the rink, get yourself to the Jeju City bus terminal on the 1132 highway. Head south a few blocks and fade a little east. It’s right beside the swimming pool in the Sports Complex. Here’s a map link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/jeju.island.hockey/files/

rink map

Bring your own stick if you have one, but if not, we have plenty of extras for you to borrow.

We’ll divide up our players into an even number of teams via draft at The Bar in Jeju City (we will sort and balance the teams according to skill level, don’t worry) to keep things even and fun. 5 on 5, with goalies!

Goalie gear and hockey sticks are provided.

If you can’t play, feel free to come by as a spectator.

Here’s some press of our previous tournaments:

Inaugural Jeju Cup: http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=4231
Inaugural Jeju Cup Winter Classic: http://www.jejuweekly.com/news/articleView.html?idxno=4518
Winter Classic semi-final shootout (video):

See you at the rink!

jeju islanders

 

 

-Jeju Islanders Hockey Club

Rockets Over-Agers Look Ahead to Memorial Cup

June 10, 2015 Leave a comment


[originally published in the Kelowna Capital News, and on kelownarockets.com]
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Posted: May 19, 2015 – 23:01 PDT |
Written By: Dave Cunning

Photo Credits: Marissa Baecker @ shootthebreeze.ca

Photo Credits: Marissa Baecker @ shootthebreeze.ca

“We’re not done yet. We’ve still got the Memorial Cup.”

Even amidst the jubilation of capturing their club’s fourth WHL championship last week, Chance Braid and the rest of the Kelowna Rockets knew that they still have much work ahead – and even more glory left for them to attain.

“The Memorial Cup was our goal from the start of the season,” said Rockets’ injured left winger, Tyrell Goulbourne. “To make it there and win it.”

The reigning WHL champions will next face their rival league equals – OHL champion Oshawa Generals, QMJHL champion Rimouski Oceanic, and tournament host Quebec Remparts — in the quest to declare ultimate major junior supremacy. Kelowna’s sweep of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL final – including a shutout in the series clinching game – was unquestionably impressive, but when the Rockets collide with the OHL and QMJHL champs, can they produce equally dominant results?

“They’re the top teams in each of their leagues, so it’s going to be tough,” said Goulbourne, whose return date from injury is still unknown heading into the Memorial Cup. “I feel like if we play our game and our way, I like our chances in that tournament.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how we stack up,” said assistant captain, Cole Martin. “I feel pretty confident in our group in there. We’ve got a lot of heart in that room and I think that’ll help us be successful.”

“When we go up there, we’re going to work our butts off and hopefully get the win,” added Braid. “We won the WHL championship, and we know we can do more. We’ve got role players, we’ve got goal scorers, we’ve got a goalie – with the team we’ve got, I think we’re going to do just fine.”

The Rockets are certainly bringing a capable group to the dance. Jackson Whistle’s four shutouts lead the CHL through the playoffs, as do Leon Draisitl’s three short-handed goals. The team should be well rested too – winning the WHL in only 19 games means they have played up to three less games than their upcoming opponents. After only losing three games in their WHL playoff stretch, the Rockets earned a winning percentage of 0.842% – both of those statistics top the Generals, Ramparts, and Oceanic.

Further, their expedited championship also granted them four more days of rest than the competing QMJHL teams, whose final series went to seven games.

While the Rockets will unquestionably match their eastern rivals in potency, a bigger question will be whether Kelowna can counter what their opposition brings to the table. They will have to put pucks past Goals-Against and Goals-Against-Average leader, Louis-Phiip Guindon of Rimouski (25; 0.184), and save percentage leader, Zachary Fucale of Quebec (.913%). They will also have to deactivate top point producers, Cole Cassels and Michael Dal Colle of Oshawa (31), and goal scoring leader, Adam Erne of Quebec (21).

For Goulbourne, Martin, and Braid – the Rockets’ three eldest statesmen – the Memorial Cup tournament is uncharted waters, as it is for the rest of Kelowna’s current roster. Aside from the club’s long term staff, no current Rockets have experience from the team’s last Memorial Cup appearance in 2009 to mine, nor from their tournament win in 2004. With that in mind, all three veterans will be looked to by their teammates for their savvy leadership in Quebec – on and off the ice – and not just because of their age. Goulbourne and Martin both recorded career highs in regular season goals, assists, and points this year, and Braid has never been more productive in the post-season in any statistical category.

Rockets fans will have to wait until May 31st to find out whether this trio of 20 year olds in their swan song season of junior hockey will help lead Kelowna to their second Memorial Cup title in franchise history, or not. One thing that is for certain though – no matter how the tournament plays out, none of the three will ever forget how their junior hockey careers concluded.

Follow Dave Cunning on Twitter @davecunning, read his blog at https://davecunning.wordpress.com and listen to his podcast at http://xppsp.podbean.com

Johansen brothers enjoy banter, but team up for success

June 10, 2015 Leave a comment

[originally published in the Kelowna Daily Courier on May 4, 2015]
[The extended audio version of this interview can be heard on my podcast]

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Rockets defenceman’s older brother is former Winterhawks star, NHLer

Posted: Monday, May 4, 2015 11:20 pm | by Dave Cunning

The Kelowna Rockets may have just beaten the Portland Winterhawks for the WHL’s Western Conference title, but while the two hockey teams were engaged in battle, there was a separate, smaller scale match-up also taking place in the background.

Ryan LucasDuring the series, Rockets defenceman Lucas Johansen was fighting a war of words with his brother, Columbus Blue Jackets centre Ryan Johansen, a Portland Winterhawks alumni. Due to conflicting season schedules, Ryan is rarely able to attend Lucas’ games in person, so the Johansen’s generally communicate through text or phone call. While generally supportive in nature through those mediums, the siblings made sure to mix in their share of barbs while Ryan’s former team squared off against Lucas’s current club.

“I’m always giving him a hard time,” said the elder Johansen, who turns 23 in July. “I told him I’m cheering for the Hawks. I’ve got texts from him saying, ‘I can’t wait to beat the Hawks tonight’ and stuff like that to rub it in on me. Deep down though, when I’m watching the games, one hundred percent I want to see him and his team be successful.”

Lucas was nearly convinced his brother was truly on his side all along.

“I think he was cheering for me, but I don’t really know,” admitted Lucas, 17. “He bugs me sometimes. He’ll send me the odd text saying ‘Go Hawks!’ as a joke, but for the most part, he’s rooting for the Rockets, I think.”

Beyond the give-and-take, Lucas has found his brother to be a well of experience and knowledge that he’s constantly able to draw from, especially during the Rockets’ series with Portland.

“He watched the games,” said Lucas. “When he played for Portland, they won the Western Conference as well, so he’s been through it. He can definitely give me pointers on what I can do better, and he definitely has. It’s good to have a guy like that in your family.”

Despite being five years apart in age, and thousands of miles away from each other at all times during the hockey season, Lucas and Ryan managed to become closer than ever this past year.

“Last year was really the first year my brother and I got really close,” Ryan recalled. “We basically did everything together. He started training with me every day. He’d stay over a lot of the time at my place. We really became close friends.

“It’s awesome that I can guide him. Whenever he needs an answer to a question, I can help him out, or show him how to do things differently.”

While mining all he can from big brother, Lucas also wants to put in his own work, and blaze his own trail in hockey. Ryan is in full support of that approach.

“Lucas is one of those kids that really drives himself,” said Ryan. “He’s got that inner drive where he wakes up every day and asks, ‘What can I do to get better at hockey?’ Whether it’s going to the gym, playing road hockey — anything that would help him be a better hockey player, he wants to do.”

“The thing I tell everyone about him is that his work ethic is non-stop,” Ryan continued in his praise for Lucas. “He’s doing everything he can right now to get in my position and play in the NHL. As an older brother and seeing him go through the process, I couldn’t be more proud of him and the way he works and carries himself.

“I love the way he plays the game. I think he can be a heck of a player. The way he’s been working, and the way he cares about the game and prepares himself, he’s definitely on the right track. He’s one of those kids that really wants to do it himself, and prove to people that he can be a great hockey player. Me playing in the NHL for a few years and having gone through the WHL, he’s got a lot of motivation to be successful. Seeing him do his own thing, I’m really proud of the way he’s developed, the way this year’s gone for him, and the way their team’s been playing. It’s been an absolute blast watching him and hearing about him grow.”

Beyond game-play matters, Ryan’s also been able to provide counsel on Lucas’ choice to play major junior rather than pursue an NCAA scholarship — a decision Ryan had to make for himself in 2009.

“Leaving a full ride scholarship is probably is the toughest hockey decision I’ve ever made in my life,” Ryan said. “To have a path set up, and to throw it all behind and just take a shot at hockey — the way I felt about my game, to me it was always the right decision. It was the thing I always wanted to do, and I just went with my gut feeling. I had the confidence that I could play with those players, and be successful out there. It didn’t happen overnight — it took a lot of hard work and a lot of teaching, but like my brother, we’re both motivated to be the best players we can be. I put my mind to it and found ways to get better. I had a lot of great players and people there to guide me through it, and so does Lucas now. He’s got a great organization in Kelowna, and he’s surrounded with great players and great coaches. That’s how kids become successful. The sky’s the limit for him, just like it is for me. It’s such a fun process to go through, and one of the things I always tell him is to enjoy it.”

With the likes of Rick Nash, Jeff Carter and Marian Gaborik all departing Columbus while he was on the Blue Jackets’ roster, Ryan found himself in a position where the team needed him to step up and fill holes.

In response, Johansen set career highs in assists and points last season, was voted into the NHL All-Star Game, and outscored all three of the aforementioned names.

With the Rockets now battling for the WHL championship, Kelowna will demand the same of their players if they are to capture the Ed Chynoweth Cup — Lucas included.

“They looked at me as a guy who needed to elevate his game and take that next step to be an elite player,” said Ryan. “The opportunity was mine. It was right in front of me, and I had to go grab it. I’ve still got so much room to improve. I feel I can grow a lot still as a player, and that’s what they’ve been telling me leaving Columbus to come back home, they still want to see another level, and I do as well. I prepare to do the things that make me successful on the ice, and that’s what I tell Lucas — that those experiences that I go through are what made me better.

“Everything’s not going to be the same for the both of us, but at least I can share those experiences with him, which hopefully will make us both better.”

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