With less than two weeks until Colorado College’s first hockey game, coaches Joe Bonnett and Norm Bazin began implementing defensive systems on Monday night. As in seasons past, the Tigers will play a man-to-man defense and minimize switches–when one player trades his defensive assignment to another player–which Bonnett said promotes an aggressive mentality.
During one-on-one defensive drills in the corners, defenseman Brett Wysopal was a standout. Even though he is the shortest player at 5-foot-7, Wysopal uses his lower center of gravity to his advantage. Against left wing Scott McCulloch, Wysopal was a downright pest with his stick and not afraid to check McCulloch whenever possible.
Bazin also had the forwards practice backchecking by having them sprint down the ice, take a shot, and sprint back.
Fitness in the form of cross-ice sprints and serpentine skating patterns was integrated throughout the practice to Bazin’s and Bonnett’s chorus of “speed, speed, speed!” and “go, go, go!”
All together the practice laid out the ingredients of success for the Tigers this season. They’ll be going all-out up the ice, generating shots with their speed. With the forwards backchecking aggressively, they’ll try to create turnovers in the neutral zone and keep the puck from even reaching the young defensive corps and untested goaltender. When the puck gets into the defensive zone, each player will play in-your-face defense with the hopes of never giving their opponents an open look or an easy lane to drive the net.
Of course, all of this is easier said than done.
Only 11 days left until the season-opening exhibition against Calgary and 24 until the first game against Minnesota.
Here were Monday night’s lines:
What are your thoughts about these combinations? Post a comment.
An interesting article on the utility of face shields, which features the contrasting stances of Boston Bruin and former CC defenseman Mark Stuart, and his father, Michael Stuart, who is USA Hockey’s Chief Medical Officer. It mentions Stuart’s older siblings and former Tigers, Colin and Mike Stuart.