Varsity Hockey
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Coach's Corner

Happy New Year!!!!
Dec 31, 2010, 10:25 pm

Dec 6, 2010, 2:16 pm

Novi 8 Rochester United 0

Novi 2 Clarkston 0

Novi 4 Salem 5

Novi 3 Stevenson 6


Novi Overall Record 2-2-0

Novi KLAA Record 0-2-0


In 3 the first games Novi accumulated 29 Penalties and 66 PIM’s (Penalties in Minutes).

Previous to last year, Michigan High School Varsity Hockey played 3-15 minute periods for a total of 45 minutes a game with optional 8minute overtime if tied after regulation. Last year, the MHSAA approved our league and a few other leagues to experiment with playing 3-17minute periods for a total of 51minutes of playing time. This experiment was extended to the 2010-2011 season. 

Novi has spent the equivalent of more than 1 game out of three in the penalty box. It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that a team that plays disadvantaged a total of more than a period per game will have a difficult time winning as the competition gets better.

We did a much better job staying disciplined against Stevenson. There were a total of 7 penalties: 2 penalties were coincidental minors and one was a goaltender penalty. Our skaters took 4 penalties that left us shorthanded. This was a significant improvement over the first 3 games.

Our TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) is comprised of 9 returning skaters (4 D & 5 F’s), 9 new skaters (4 D & 5 F’s) and 3 Goaltenders (1 new).

The TEAM has done a great job with our Puck Possession, Puck Protection, and Puck Movement concepts and structure. These concepts are applied when our TEAM has the puck. When our TEAM does not have the puck, we have a system we immediately apply depending on the zone the puck is possessed within by our opponent. In the defensive zone we apply a strong side overload looking to take away time and space while outnumbering our opponent in our zone in order to get the puck back. In the neutral zone we apply a box plus 1, and in the offensive zone we fore-check in a triangle plus 2 formation. We have been doing an average job at best when we are playing without the puck. It is considerably easier to play with the puck. What separates a TEAM and individuals from the average or good teams and players is one’s ability to play without the puck.

We have spent a considerable amount of time on our TEAM play with and without the puck. Many of our newer players have never been coached at higher levels of TEAM system play so it is taking us a little longer than I previously planned to get everybody on the same page and performing within our overall TEAM structure.

I am very pleased with our overall TEAM Work Ethic in practice and the games. Although we are not where we need to be from a grit and determination stand point, the guys have been learning to block shots, take a hit to make a play, win the battles on the walls, and win the races to the pucks. I am a big believer in “process” vs. short-term results. I believe when we work towards getting better and better everyday as a team and individuals the results will fall into place and be reflected at the end of the season. Although I never want to lose a game, I enjoy the adversity and competition to get better and I believe you don’t get better when things come easy and details are not paid attention to. I am encouraged that we could have won both the games we lost, and our mistakes that costs us those games are easily correctable going forward.

We have a big week beginning with Brighton tonight. We have not beaten Brighton in the last 4 years and tonight is a great opportunity for us to come together and execute what we have been working on and create the results we need to win.     

TEAM Activity Schedule
Mar 5, 2010, 10:31 pm

Saturday 3/6/10

11am: TEAM Breakfast @ Dixon's                   

2:15pm: Fathers and Sons attend Brother Rice vs De La Salle, at Great Lakes Arena (34400 Utica Rd, Fraser  48026). Mandatory for Players to attend. Obviously, Dads are welcome. It worked out well when we did this last year.

After Game dinner for all attending game at location TBA

7pm: TEAM Movie in Locker Room. Bring Pillows, Blankets and snacks.

10pm Curfew

Sunday 3/7/10

7am to 6pm: Study

6:30pm: Dinner at Coach Krygier's House (23946 Wintergreen Cr, 48374)

10pm: Curfew

Monday 3/8/10

2:30pm: Arrive for Practice

3pm: Practice

4pm: TEAM Meeting

5:15pm: TEAM Dinner at Benitos




Mar 4, 2010, 12:11 am

Just as an fyi, i will not be updating individual stats during the State Playoffs. All individual stats are reflected in what the TEAM accomplishes on a shift by shift and period by period basis. The coaching staff's focus, time, and energy are on getting the guys prepared to compete in and win the next game. 

We are taking a shift by shift and period by period approach during the playoffs with a particular focus on the execution of our game plan and our TEAM systems with Grit, Determination, and Hard & Smart Work.

We are continuing to emphasize our 4 Core Values: TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More), Hard Work, Class/Sportsmanship, and Results.

No Regrets and No Excuses! We are on a mission and  we must find a way to get it done!

Success is accomplished with "Backbone" not "Wishbone"!

Everything is to be left on the ice shift by shift through Hard and Smart Work. 


Feb 13, 2010, 2:41 am

In the last six games we are 5-1-0. We have scored 28 goals for and given up 10 goals (5 PP to CC). 78% of our goals have been even strength. Our system play in all three zones has noticeably improved through our willingness to compete with grit and determination in addition to our improved efforts back-checking and fore-checking. Our guys have been working harder than ever-in practice and games to be prepared to compete against any opponent.

I am very proud of our guys and TEAM. The focus and commitment level has continued to rise and we are exactly where I would expect us to be and like us to be at this point in the season.

Obviously, the loss to CC is disappointing and the type of game we had to compete within was shocking.  Although we did take too many penalties and we need to improve in this area going forward, I was and I am very proud how our guys handled the adversity and maintained their composure through the battle. I was far more disappointed in myself and my outward response, to what I honestly felt was unjustly occurring during the contest, which resulted in a bench minor penalty. In no way was it acceptable or justified but it may be understandable given the background of the overall situation and conversation I encountered prior to the game with the lead official.

Before the game, the lead official and referee assignor approached me and told me that “he heard” it is going to be a “blood bath” between Novi and CC because of the bad blood between the schools. I informed him that we have no bad blood and I tremendously respect CCs program and success and we have worked extremely hard over the last year and a half to put our selves in a position to be a top team in the state and compete against teams such as CC. He continued to inform me of his awareness of the underlying current of “bad blood” behind the closed doors between the 2 schools. I continued to tell him that it does not concern our hockey program and we have prepared to come to Trenton and compete hard and we believe we can beat CC. Furthermore, these same officials shared, with other coaches, their perception of what the game between Novi and CC was going to be like. Obviously, I was perplexed on where the heck this guy was coming from, and I was very concerned about the type of officiating we would receive if this were the rumor going on. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to realize CC is going to get the benefit of the doubt in this type of situation before this newer public school program would ever get any benefit or respect at all. Furthermore, CC is the top rated program in the state and has been for several years so the only ones that need to be controlled in this situation is Novi. That was the blatant message I received before the game began.

As the game went on and after Novi tied the game at 2 to 2, the officiating calls became more and more focused on Novi with total disregard to CC’s consistent interference checks and free reign to dig at and hit our goaltender after the whistle. To make matters even worse, our guys were called for removing players from our goaltender more than once. We even got called for holding while a CC player was on top of one of our players in our crease. At that point, I had enough. Although the officiating was the worse I have ever seen in high school hockey, I should not have put the TEAM in a position to receive another penalty. From the top down, we need to do a better job controlling our emotions and playing penalty free hockey.

In the previous 20 games, we have averaged 8 penalties per game as a TEAM. That is one period of hockey per game that we play shorthanded. Against the better teams it is more difficult to have success spending that much time in the box. Furthermore, it takes away ice time from players that may otherwise have an opportunity to get ice time. We need to get this corrected. These penalties have been mainly one of 4 kinds: Slash, Hook, Cross Check, or High Stick. Going forward we have got to do a better job of eliminating personal battles, keeping our feet moving while back-checking, and keeping our hands and sticks down when we hit.

Brother Rice Game is a new game for us on a new day with our TEAM newly committed to and focused on its goals. As we continue to compete as a TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) with heart, grit and determination combined with smarts and execution within our systems framework, we will succeed at achieving our goal: “To Win One Game, One Game at a Time.”




Jan 12, 2010, 10:43 pm

The table below includes the stats against our 6 toughest opponents to date: South Lyon, SHS, Plymouth, Cranbrook, Calumet, Hancock.




















% on PP


































































































































































Coaches Analysis:

1) We have only 4 players on team with a point a game or better.

2) Guys are not playing with any grit, determination, or heart as represented by the lack of even strength stats for an overwhelming majority of players.

3) Guys with less than a point a game and 50% or more of their points on the powerplay are looking for an easy way to play the game of hockey. News Flash: Hockey is not an easy game--It takes hard work and physical play to succeed. 

4) The hardest working player with the most heart and determination every shift is #9, Tyler Manning: Notice how he has more than a point a game and only 14% of his points were on the powerplay. Tyler leads our team in even strength goals with 4. Evan Dixon is in 2nd place with 3 even strength goals over our 6 toughest games. Furthermore, please notice how Joey Ferriss, who leads our team in scoring only has 25% of points on the powerplay and has a point a game even strength.

5)Everyone has all the answers as to who should be on powerplay, in what position, and with whom. The reality is the power play is representative of our team softness, lack of work ethic, and excellent talent.

6)If someone wants to know why i'm not satisfied with our team and record it is because of what is represented by these stats. For a player to be in the top three lines and have 1 or 2 points in 6 games is a disgrace and shows a total lack of effort on this team. For a player getting a regular shift to have 1 or no even strength points over 6 games is a joke and shows the total lack of grit and determination.

7) I can keep going in breaking down these stats further and further as to what they do and dont represent about our team and these players. For the sake of my own health and the bunch of babies on the team that cant handle the facts and truth of my analysis i will stop now.

8) Going Forward: I expect to see hard, gritty work all over the ice. Defensive zone play will be a priority for every player on this team. Head manning the puck and unselfish play is expected. Shooting high and wide on a rush is intolerable. losing battles for the puck and races to the puck is unacceptable. Backchecking with urgency and desperation is required. Shot blocking is a necessity along with taking a hit to make a play. Turning an odd man rush into a 1 on 1 and a turnover is not the way the game is supposed to be played.

9)The stats for this team will be locked and only seen by the coaching staff. Individual stats have gotten us nowhere and the I in TEAM is nonexistent. I am sick and tired of the arguing over stats and talking about stats in the locker room. Furthermore, the end of season award for Leading scorer is eliminated: That award will never be given out by me again. Be a TEAM player and play to make the TEAM better! I can care less about any one individual and their stats going forward. 

10) I am coaching to win a State Championship. Until the guys start working and playing to win a State Championship, that goal is an absolute pipe dream. Right now this team is a fraud of a top high school team in the state and the day of coming out is very near if the work ethic, attitude, and commitment to and for this TEAM do not change.

11) Guys on this team want to move on to the next level and play junior hockey. They are kidding themselves, especially when they cant get the job done at the current level. Forget about the future and take care of now. When one is so busy working their butt off and totally occupied by what needs to be done now, one will be amazed as to how the future takes care of itself. It starts now, not tomorrow.

12) By the way, the grass ain't any greener anywhere else. If you ain't getting it done here, you ain't gonna get it done there. There aint gonna be anyone who likes you more or cares about you more in the hockey world than me. But its time to deal with the truth and facts. It is time to get over any ego and get down to business.

13) We can and will win the State Championship! 

Jan 4, 2010, 1:44 am

Mid Season Update 2009-2010 Novi Varsity Season:

12 regular season games played. 12 regular season games to play.  6 League games completed and 3 league games to play before Conference and Association crossover games.

 At this point, we have a minimum of 13 games to play with the potential to play a maximum of 18 total games. 

During the month of January we have 16 practices and 5 games. We have 16 practices and 7 games during February. In March, we have 6 games and 6 practices planned. TEAM, this means you have a potential of 56 more days left and it’s over.

Novi Overall Record 10-1-1

Novi KLAA Record 5-0-1

USHSHO Rankings: #6 overall in the State, and #3 in Division II.

Goals set by the TEAM before the beginning of the season: “To Win the Next Game ” in pursuit of the Conference, Association, and State Championship “One game at a Time.”

In season goals: “To beat” Davison in order “To play” Cranbrook. “To be accepted” into the Showcase in order “To play” 2 top teams in the State. “To beat” Northville 2x’s. “To go to” Calumet and Hancock.


Strengths: Talent, Speed, Depth, Scoring against weak teams, Power Play, ability to protect the puck, ability to possess the puck, and the ability to move the puck.

Weaknesses: Grit and Determination. TEAM defense and work ethic.  Consistent TEAM System execution in all three zones. Back checking, Shot blocking, and toughness on the walls. I vs. We. My points vs. TEAM points.  Practice habits and intensity. TEAM Commitment and Dedication to Purpose and Mission. Personal Battles and styles of play.

Plan to use strengths and improve weaknesses: Harder Work in practice, on and off the ice. Continued TEAM Building. Elimination of any and all ice time for those not demonstrating the work ethic, commitment, and dedication to be the best we can be.


To an outsider, everything “appears” to be good for our TEAM so far: Our record is good. Our Goals For and Goals Against are good. Our rankings are very good. Our TEAM system structure looks good. Puck movement looks good. Talent is good. Our processes are good: We practice good, we compete good, we work good, we prepare good.

It is my personal belief and philosophy that great processes yield great results. When one consistently pushes oneself to prepare better, work harder, practice more and better, perform better, and so on…One becomes better and eventually, Great.  

My concern in the pursuit of a State Championship is our TEAM satisfaction with good and not consistently demonstrating a desire and willingness to do what must be done to become great. Occasionally, we have each and every player working hard, paying attention, and trying to get better in practice but it is not consistent. Occasionally, we block shots, compete with grit and determination, win the battles on the walls, and play well defensively but it is not consistent in the games or practices.

From this day forward, I do not care if I have to get down to 1 goalie, 3 defensemen, and 6 forwards that give me everything they have for the good of the TEAM. (Currently, that is all I have that give me what they have to give on a daily basis). I will no longer allow anything less than the TEAM and personal pursuit of excellence. If I do not believe I am getting the best each one can give on and off the ice on a daily basis, I will be removing the student-athlete from the practice and not playing the respective student-athlete in the game. This is not a threat. I am not here to play games. I am here to coach to the highest common denominator with the necessary work ethic, commitment and attitude to become a champion. This is the standard that will be enforced beginning at today’s practice.

Why now Coach? Because it has taken myself, and the coaching staff, the first half of this season’s practices and games to evaluate our players and TEAM on a daily basis in both games and practices and this is the course of action I decided to take in order for this TEAM to have an opportunity to achieve it’s goals.

The path of least resistance by me, and the TEAM, will not be followed any longer. Discipline and hard work are required. We will not only pursue our goals, we will achieve them!! We will not only “play” the top teams in the State at the Showcase, we will “beat” them. We will not just be going to Calumet and Hancock, we will “defeat” Calumet and Hancock. The Conference, Association, and State Championship will not only be pursued: They will be achieved!!


Dec 16, 2009, 1:01 am

I shared the following story with the guys: I will never forget, When I was 17 years old, a senior in high school, and playing for the Buffalo Jr. Sabres after completing my Midget Major AAA year with the Buffalo Regals, I found myself alone after a Junior game at the “Aud” (Buffalo Memorial Auditorium), where the Buffalo Sabres played. As I walked onto the concourse and stared up into the stadium dreaming of what it would be like to play in the NHL and have all these seats filled watching me play, I noticed a teammate of mine doing the same thing. As we caught each other visualizing and dreaming we both kind of laughed, said “yea, right” and left the arena. Five years later I signed my first NHL contract and a year after that I was playing in the NHL. Brian Coventry and I still laugh at that moment and day but I look at it as one of the most significant moments in my life.

When I played on the Buffalo Jr. Sabres I was a 4th line player and barely if ever played a regular shift. If the professionals in Las Vegas were taking bets, my odds were “extremely” poor and ludicrous. (This is part of the reason I play the Lotto on a consistent basis and believe I will win someday—“You cant win if you don’t play” and “if somebody’s gonna win, why not me.”) Furthermore, after getting cut as a freshman from Rochester Institute of Technology, I was no longer, if ever, on the odds makers’ radar. In reality, it appeared over: To everybody, but me. This is one of the reasons I set such high expectations and dreams for all the guys—I know, if it can happen for me, it can happen for anybody, yes anybody willing to pay the price, work hard, and pursue the dream one step at a time.

In 2006, I had the honor and privilege of being named the Novi Varsity Head Coach. After a 3-8-1 start, I heard all the grumblings from all different sources and people within the community and amateur hockey world of how I may have been able to play hockey but I definitely could not coach. Fortunately, that team had a great leader in Robert Lewis as its captain and a group of guys who worked their butts off and believed they could accomplish great things against all odds. It was during this season my good friend, fellow NYHA board member, and travel director who brought me into the NYHA, Jim Lewis encouraged me to do one thing everyday: “Teach the game!” Just about everyday Jim and I would talk and he consistently implored me to “teach what you know and share your experiences for the benefit of these guys.” As that TEAM and I grew together over the season, our dreams and goals continued to grow and even flourished to a bid in the State Semi-Finals at Compuware and a final season record of 13-13-3.  It was during this season, I experienced my first MIHL Showcase. It was a very exciting event—all the top high school teams from the state were invited to participate in the most scouted and competitive event in high school hockey. Although I thoroughly enjoyed the event and our 2 games in the “practice” rink, I had much bigger visions and dreams as I watched the best teams compete in the “main” and “side” arenas and knew I had to make changes in the program going forward to possibly accomplish those dreams and goals.

In 2007-2008, I took a highly criticized step in selecting and playing 2 freshmen, Valleau and Pesendorfer, and 3 sophomores; Perpich, Manning, and Cmoluch. Varsity hockey was supposed to be for juniors and seniors. I believed Varsity Hockey was and is for the best hockey players, regardless of class. Again, we were invited to the Showcase and played both opponents in the “practice” rink. It was at this showcase where I heard and saw these young players dream of playing in the “main” arena and not being happy that our TEAM was placed in the “practice” arena. These guys expressed their displeasure to me very openly. My response was, “then earn your opportunity to play in the main arena. The best TEAMS play in the main arena.”

In 2008-2009, we added Latin, Judi, Andy, Mohr, Howell, Dixon, Cova, and Peterson to a great core of players led by Apel, Gaspo, and Mccusker. This season we get invited to the showcase and play one game on the “side” arena and one game on the “practice arena.” Furthermore, this team goes onto Compuware to compete in the State Semi-Finals. Once again, the dissatisfaction among the guys at the showcase was palpable and the dream was to be the best and play the best.

In 2009-2010, Ferris, Stemkoski, McCullough, Pew, Kolis, Herzog, Cordes, Krygier, and Shepard join the TEAM and this TEAM records the best start of 8-0-1 to a season in the history of the Novi Varsity Program. Once again, we have been selected to participate in the MIHL Showcase in Trenton. This year, for the first time, I received a phone call from a member of the selection committee telling me that we may have the opportunity to play the “best” team in the state if we continue to win and perform as we have been.  This opportunity could be no bigger and better than any opportunity dreamed of by each coach and player since 2006-2007. Although the rink, time, and opponent have not been assigned, the dream is alive: The “Main Rink” is waiting for its schedule. Novi has an opportunity if Novi continues to win over Davison and Cranbrook that no other Novi TEAM has earned in the history of the varsity hockey program. As I remember the faces and competitiveness of the players of the 2007-2008 TEAM, the excitement and motivation of the 2008-2009 TEAM, and the expectation of the 2009-2010 TEAM, I am truly proud of every varsity hockey student-athlete that has participated and does participate on the Novi Varsity Hockey TEAM.

Dreams are alive and well! It is only the foolish that dare not to dream for fear of failure. We dream for inspiration and work for opportunity. Although we take pride in our rankings as a reflection of the past, we work to accomplish our goals and dreams for the future. Although, none of us know what the future may hold, we know we have the future in our grasp through our TEAM, Hard Work, and Results one day at a Time.

Novi has never beaten Davison in the history of Novi’s program and Novi has never earned an opportunity to play Cranbrook: Friday is the day at DSC and 7pm is the time!

Dream Big, Dream Often, and Get to Work each and every day. Every effort and decision you make today, or lack thereof, will directly affect your ability to accomplish your dream. And as Martina McBride sings, no matter what happens in life "Do it Anyway."

It's Happening!!!
Dec 6, 2009, 8:46 am

Novi 7  Northville 1

Novi Record 1-0-0 

“The Success and Glory of One (TEAM and/or Individual), Witnessed by All, is Achieved Through the Hard Work, Discipline and Sweat seen by very Few.”

“When you are not practicing, someone somewhere is practicing and when you meet him, he will win.”

As the Coach of the Novi HS Varsity Hockey TEAM, I want to impart to, impose on, and disseminate to each guy on this TEAM as much knowledge and experience as I possibly can in order to help my players, your kids, and our TEAM. Each of the past three seasons I have coached here in Novi I have made it one of my main personal coaching goals to make it very clear to the guys that this is their TEAM and their experience. It is up to them to create their Novi Varsity Hockey experience. I want every TEAM to be the best they possibly can be and have the best Varsity Hockey experience in High School Hockey.

As a matter of fact, in my first year coaching at Novi, I experienced an unexpected emotion and feeling about half way through that season which changed the way I coached and which I turned into one of my personal coaching responsibilities for that season and for each Varsity Hockey Season I would be coaching thereafter. The emotion and feeling was not for the TEAM it was for the “senior” student-athletes on the TEAM: We are down to our last games, practices, days, months, and season together. I wanted and want the seniors to leave the program knowing their time here was special, unique, earned, privileged, and worthwhile. Furthermore, when I look each senior (this season specifically: Andrew, Tim, Alec, Ryan, Tyler P, Tyler M, Nolan A, Brandon, Evan, and Alex) in the eye and shake their hand while thanking them for being a part of our TEAM and wishing them the best in their future at the banquet, I want to personally know without any shadow of doubt that I gave them my best and everything I had to offer. I realize each guy is different and we may agree to disagree on hockey related issues but I want no doubt in my mind that I did the best I possibly could for each of them as individuals and as part of a TEAM.

Very often, people make derogatory comments about the program and/or ask me “Why am I so demanding?” “Why is the program so extensive and structured?” Why, Why, Why……… etc….. Why? Because I have chosen to enter into a relationship with 22 guys through the sport of Ice Hockey that most people will never understand or experience. Because I have 22 guys looking to me for guidance, structure, and help to reach their dreams and goals. Because I have to look 22 guys in the eye each day and ask them for their sweat, unmatched hard work, dedication, commitment, and absolute best they have to offer. I ask them to block shots, take hits to make plays, play physical, skate faster and quicker, and win the battles for loose pucks. I ask them to play different roles on the TEAM and sacrifice for the good of the TEAM. At the end of each day, I have to ask myself “Have I given my best to these guys and this TEAM?” “If I haven’t given my best, how can I expect their best?”

I can assure each member of this TEAM, I give you my best each day. I can assure you, I sacrifice for the TEAM regularly. I can assure you this program was put together to be the best sports experience at Novi High School and the best Varsity Hockey experience in the State.

With all that said and explained, it is up to the guys to take ownership of their TEAM and TEAM processes. It is up to the guys to determine their individual and TEAM Experience within the structure of the overall program. As is my role, I will provide and facilitate this process through guidance, structure, experience, and knowledge. This season is no different. It is my personal belief the success and/or lack of success of each TEAM is determined by “if and/or when” the TEAM and each individual on the TEAM seize ownership of the TEAM and TEAM processes. The earlier in the season the better.

I believe yesterday, 12/5/09 at 1:30pm, was one of the first steps this TEAM and these guys have taken to seize ownership of their TEAM and Varsity Hockey experience. After a satisfying romping of Northville and a great party at the Howell’s I slept well for about 5 hours and then left with my daughter to her soccer game at 7:15am. After Natalie’s game I bumped into Ken and Zack Perpich at the sports facility. As you may or may not know, Ken coaches baseball and his team was getting together for batting practice at 8:30am on Saturday morning. This made me think: How many other 9 and 10 year olds on baseball teams are working on their skills at 8am on a Saturday in December? After breakfast with Natalie I got home around 10:30 and immediately entered Brock’s bedroom, as a DAD and not the coach, and told him he needs to get up and get to the weight room today. A few hours later he woke up and Kim also encouraged him to go to the weight room, with her, I might add. In our house the quotes written at the top of this page and on our locker room walls are encourage as a lifestyle. Kim and I have one common expectation of all our kids, they must work hard. We understand results may be all over the map but one’s work ethic must never be compromised. We know results will come if hard work never ceases. Therefore, as parents of a sophomore Varsity Hockey player, we want to see Brock get better and we understand a big part of his hockey development will come from work in the weight room in the off season and during the season. As I left the house for a walk with Lacey, and Kim and Brock left for the gym, the Varsity Hockey Coach in me took over my thought process and I immediately texted Evan at 1:22pm, “today would be a great day for a light weight room workout for 40 minutes for guys. Let me know if you want me to open the hs weight room. I can give light program.” After all, I have 21 other guys that need my encouragement and help also. When Evan texted me back at 1:32pm “Okay I let the guys know…will you meet us there at 2:30?,” I had 2 thoughts: First, this could be a first step in the necessary direction our TEAM needs to take in order to become Great. Why “could be a first step?” because, Secondly, I wondered how many guys will actually show up, and then how many will actually put some effort into the workout. 

When 18 of 22 guys willingly showed up and did the workout, which took a total of 30-45 minutes from the time they walked in, I knew we took a step toward greatness. Todd, “What’s the big deal, and Why do you feel this way?” The big deal is and I feel this way because we began “To Live” the quotes, written at the top of this page and on our locker room walls, and the guys Seized Ownership of their TEAM and TEAM processes. I understand this is a continual process but it needed to begin somewhere and I know it began yesterday.

I couldn’t be prouder of this TEAM and the guys on this TEAM! 

For the record, I know the guys who couldn’t make it would have absolutely been there and working out if they weren’t out of town or at work. It was an impromptu event on a planned day off. I will forward those guys the light workout. I am extremely sensitive toward and proud of all the guys on our team that are working jobs in addition to school and varsity hockey. I respect and admire your work ethic and the fulfillment of your responsibilities. Great Job! 

Nice win over Northville.

Our “Plan to win the next game” is against Livonia Stevenson. Stevenson has been scouting and taping our games in hopes of an opportunity to defeat us. With the way the league is setup at this time, this game vs Stevenson is our first “must” win of the season if we plan to win our division, and have an opportunity to win our Conference and the League Championship. If we lose this game these goals we have set for ourselves will have virtually no chance of being accomplished. Stevenson has the same goals as us and also understands this scenario and this is why they have been at and taping our last three games. Furthermore, Stevenson will be the best team we have faced so far this season.

As we talk about in the locker room, “We can beat anybody on any given day and anybody (including us) can be beat on any given day. We must enter this game with confidence not arrogance. We must respect all our opponents and take our brand of "Novi Hockey" to them.”   

Novi 5 South Lyon 2
Dec 2, 2009, 6:46 pm

Novi 5 South Lyon 2

Novi Record 1-0-0

I was very pleased with our ability to raise our game to a more competitive level verse a better team after walking over 4 teams in a row.

We played much better in the first period than first periods of the previous 4 games. Making the adjustment with our D to move the puck more quickly D to D and then right up to the winger with an indirect pass instead of going D to D too much helped get us on the attack much sooner and changed our mindset toward dictating a quicker and higher tempo game right from the start.

If the officials actually called the game the way they should have and if we had converted a few more of our chances, the score would have been lopsided much sooner than with 3 minutes left in the third.

Selfish and stupid penalties have got to stop if we are going to compete against and beat Trenton, CC, Brother Rice, Stevenson, etc... or if we just want a shot at winning our KLAA Division, Conference, and League. Focus and self-control in all areas of the ice and all aspects of the game are a necessity and top priority.

Overall, our puck movement improved that game but the second period was played way too selfishly with the puck. The resulting turnovers from the individual play is bad hockey. We need to execute what we practice and perform as a TEAM if we are going to have a chance to defeat our opponents down the road. NOW is the time to start.

This week in practice we have been working on small area games and the execution of different hockey concepts in the small areas. The games have exposed our individiual efforts and highlighted our need to perform together through puck possession, puck protection, and puck movement.

As i shared with the guys yesterday, we are a TEAM all of our opponents are preparing well in advance to play. I honestly believe we will not get beat by any other TEAM in the State of Michigan this season unless we decide to beat ourselves through poor effort, no grit and determination, selfish play (lack of puck movement), and not sticking to our game plan. Many people tell me they think our TEAM needs to lose to get better and learn. As i keep my mouth shut and walk away, I immediately acknowledge, I don't ever want to lose and i don't believe we have to lose for any lessons to be learned--As long as our guys remain teachable by the coaching staff, work extremely hard(on ice and off ice),and perform as a TEAM. I expect us to win one regular season game 24 times this season and one playoff game at a time for 6 times. This is the goal and this is the expectation!

"The Plan to Win the Next Game" is to be executed against Northville on Friday night.

Communication and Preparedness
Nov 29, 2009, 10:00 pm

Novi 8  Farmington 2

Novi Record 1-0-0

According to Wikipedia:

 “Communication” is commonly defined as "the imparting or interchange of thoughts, opinions, or information by speech, writing, or signs".

Preparedness” refers to the state of being prepared for specific or unpredictable events or situations. “Preparedness is an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes. It is a major phase of emergency management, and is particularly valued in areas of competition such as sport and military science.”

Recently, I had the displeasure of sitting in the back seat of “my” explorer during my teenage driver’s road test: Yea, it was Brock’s road test. And Yea, Brock is going to have to take one for the TEAM as I attempt to “drive” home my perspective to this TEAM. 

As I sat in the back seat at 8am on this Sunday morning, I began to think about our TEAM and my inability to effectively communicate the deficiencies in our TEAM game as we “smoke” our opponents “so far.” Suddenly, I received clarity of message and analogy. As Brock received compliment after compliment by the test administrator as Brock navigated through the streets, highways, and side roads of Novi, I sat in the back seat picking apart what he wasn’t doing to “my liking.” It was getting so bad, I literally said to myself “Todd, what is wrong with you?” Then I started to think about my life and analyzing if I am a perfectionist without ever acknowledging it to myself. Before I completed that analysis, which was pretty simple because I am far from a perfectionist in any area of my life, I realized something about myself as a person and a coach: I approach life and coaching in a “preparedness” fashion in order to “avoid and mitigate negative outcomes” in the aggressive pursuit of future accomplishments. In other words, I try to envision all the pitfalls and obstacles that may appear on the road to the “Goal” and instill processes on a daily basis to be “prepared” to encounter the challenge if and when it presents itself so the “Goal” can be attained.

“Coach, What are you talking about?” As I picked apart every aspect of Brock’s driving skills or in my mind “lack of skills” I was not thinking of his present circumstance on this Sunday at 8am: Few cars on the road. No yellow lights at 8am to decide between “stepping on it” or stopping. Very few trucks on the highway as he entered the on ramp to and merged onto 96 from Beck Rd. Light traffic as he went from the middle lane on 96 to the exit ramp for Novi Road on his way back to Novi. My mind was going to the driving he could encounter in New York City at 4pm on a Friday. My mind was going to the Beltway around Washington DC on the way to Virginia from Maryland. My mind went to driving to Orchard lake St. Mary’s from Novi at 5pm any evening. Cars are moving fast, Drivers are irritated, Traffic is at an all time high, and mistakes are costly (Financially and Life or Death). Structure (Knowing where to be and when to be there), Discipline (Staying calm and on task while maintaining intensity of effort), and Understanding (Knowing the rules of the road-written and unwritten and how they apply to ones present situation) are imperative (Absolutely Necessary).

Our last four games have been a Sunday Morning Road Test. Congrats to the TEAM and Brock for “passing.” You were well prepared to pass and you passed with ease. I expected nothing less. However, I am not coaching you to pass the “Sunday Morning Drive Test.” I am coaching you to accomplish a goal this TEAM and school have never accomplished. I know what happens when the tough test comes and we have not improved in the defensive zone. I know what happens when we play “soft and lazy” and don’t “block shots” or “take hits to make plays” against the stiffest of competition. I know what happens when we rely on talent and not grit and determination to win the toughest of all battles. I know what will happen when we don’t perform as a TEAM but perform as individuals against top TEAMS. I know what happens when a TEAM “prepares” for “potential circumstances” and works to avoid negative outcomes. I know what happens when a TEAM pursues excellence and not success. I know what happens when process (every day practice and then game implementation) trumps results. I know what happens when grit, hard work, and determination combine with talent and process.

What happens? “A Good TEAM becomes a GREAT TEAM.”

WE WILL BECOME A GREAT TEAM and accomplish what no other Varsity Hockey TEAM in the history of our school could accomplish through better Communication and Preparedness. 

Nov 26, 2009, 12:51 pm

Novi 8  Canton 5

Novi Record 1-0-0 

This, 2009-2010 Varsity Hockey, season we are focusing on creating a Novi Varsity hockey experience ONE DAY and ONE GAME at a time: “Carpe Diem.” We talk about not looking ahead, beyond our next game, at our schedule and about focusing on “Novi” Hockey when we compete against our opponent, regardless of opponent’s school. Our biggest competitor is us and the execution of our game plan.

I know we can do better and will do better in all areas of the ice as the season progresses. I know we are working on becoming a “Great TEAM” not a good team.

As I take a step back and look at the “macro” view of the TEAM, I want you to know how proud we are of these guys and this TEAM. The Togetherness, Class, Hard Work, and Results have truly been excellent. From a “micro” point of view, there was, are, and always will be peaks and valleys for the TEAM and the individuals on the TEAM. These slopes of development and climbs of success should always be viewed in the light of progress for hockey and life.  This Thanksgiving day I am keenly aware of how blessed we are to be healthy, have an extended hockey family, and to be a part of something far bigger than ourselves in representation of our families, high school, and community to the State of Michigan through the game of Ice Hockey. 

The game vs. Canton highlighted many facets of our TEAM game right now: Out- worked, out-skated, and sloppy play in the 1st period. “Lightning-striking and Thunderous sounding” offense, causing silence and still within the noise of the hockey game, during the 2nd period. Defensive lapses stirring hope in our opponent during the 3rd period.  At the end of the game a winning result tempered by unsatisfactory and unsatisfying processes.

As we move forward, we need to keep in mind “excellent processes and the execution of the Novi hockey game plan” will lead to Great results. Although we are winning without very good execution of our game plan we need to continue to develop our execution day by day and game by game so we create the Great result we want in the end: Not just the end of the game but the end of the season.


Being a coach’s wife and a hockey mom on the same TEAM is not an enviable position for most hockey moms nonetheless for the coach. Kim handles it very well and does a great job of keeping things in perspective and making sure the Coach hasn’t and doesn’t totally lose his mind. For example, since I started the Coach’s Corner at the beginning of last season, I have always let Kim read the Coach’s corner before I published it. This year, she feels a need to be over my shoulder as I write it (That alone is going to cause me to lose it). Today, she tells me, “you know they been together for 12 practices and 3 games. These guys have won all 3 games and scored 24 goals while only allowing 7 against. Chillax!! (Chill and Relax).”  So, I respond, “Will you please get out of here. What do you know? Did you play hockey?” As you can imagine, that was not the best response I could have given to her “right” and accurate assessment of our TEAM.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!!

Nov 22, 2009, 11:05 am

Novi 7  Rochester United 1

Novi Record 1-0-0 

Before the game I talked to the guys about three necessary improvements to our TEAM game beyond the previous day’s Coach’s Corner: Communication, Wingers coming back to support D in Nzone, and Competing.

Communication: We did a better job talking on the ice but we have a long way to go. I think the lack of puck movement many times is because of the lack of communication at all times in all areas of the ice. “The TEAM that talks the most out there, wins the most.” 

Winger Support: Our wingers have been getting too spread out from our D as our D make D to D passes and evaluate available choices to move the puck. Furthermore, when the puck is moved to the wingers, posting up, they are giving the puck away by errant touch passes instead of gaining control and the moving the puck with flat, crisp, and accurate passes. As teams begin to take away our D to D passes the middle of the ice will begin to open up “big time” and we need to make sure our center is in good position to receive the puck and ready to move the puck to either winger quickly and accurately. This is where communication is key and area passes become potent as we attack the Ozone.

Competing: Our guys are very competitive. They have individually shown their competitiveness for years and they began showing it as a TEAM this summer in Muskegon. Furthermore, their competitiveness continued to develop on a TEAM basis at the TEAM building retreat in Howell. The guys did different team exercises: Balloon Train, TEAM ball toss, and the numbered circle game. Each exercise brought out the competitive nature of our TEAM against the clock. Furthermore, the TEAM was split into 5 mini TEAMS for the Conflict-Resolution Skits where the guys competed creatively against the other mini TEAMS.

The TEAM building exercises help bring a TEAM together and demonstrate the necessity of how important it is to communicate, work together, and establish a system for everyone to work within for greater success. As we did each exercise multiple times we got better and faster as a TEAM and individually. Unfortunately, a hockey game does not work the same way as TEAM building exercises. A TEAM must come ready to play from the drop of the puck. Play must be disciplined, organized, and laced with chatter. The practice and improvement cannot begin at the drop of the puck. All the work and practice done prior to the game has to be immediately implemented with confidence and precision. Test time begins at the drop of the puck. With the way we started the game and played in the first period the last 2 games, I have become aware that we are not prepared to play right away: We want to test the waters and see how things will play out before we get organized, intense, and pick up the tempo. This must change if we want to slay the enemy “Good” in pursuit of “Great.”


“Good is the Enemy of Great” is posted on one of the walls in our locker room. Will this TEAM choose what is necessary to do in order to be “GREAT” or will this TEAM be satisfied with “Good?”


“The Success and Glory of One (TEAM), witnessed by all, is achieved through the Hard Work and Sweat seen by very few.”


Our practices have been Good. Our effort has been Good. Our execution has been Good. Our TEAM is Good. Our Sportsmanship is Good. Our Results are Good. We have “Good” guys. Everything is Good. I’m sure we will have a “Good” season, heck we are even having a “Good” start.

TEAM: Good




“Hunger not for Success, but Excellence.”

Novi Record Game #1 1-0-0
Nov 21, 2009, 9:49 am

Novi 9  Wyandotte 1

Novi Record 1-0-0 

TEAM  C+ : Unselfish and disciplined play was very poor throughout most of the game except for the one line that combined for 12 points(Hence, its no surprise they combined for 12 points. The next 2 closest lines combined for 3 points on each line). MOVE the PUCK, SUPPORT the PUCK, and CREATE 2 on 1’s. PLAY UNSELFISH. SHOOT “within” the FRAME of the NET for a chance TO SCORE or at least get a rebound.

There were some excellent individual efforts but the overall TEAM play was poor: Our fore-check was not executed with any thought or precision most of the time. In the Ozone, We had D pinching and the top of our triangle was almost nonexistent. The guys did not move as a “box” unit in the Nzone and left the middle of the ice open often. In the Dzone the guys were too relaxed and did not play with urgency and authority, as necessary, to get the puck out. TOO MANY CUTE and SOFT plays in our end and the Nzone.

Overall, the guys were not getting their heads up and moving the puck quickly to the open man. Defensemen were skating the puck up the walls instead of passing the puck crisply, accurately, and quickly to the forward posted up. Passing was sloppy and inaccurate. We were not executing what we practice, as I expect us to. Frankly, the first period of hockey was the worst I’ve seen us play in 6 months.


HARD WORK  B : Hard work is not just skating hard, working out, watching video, and studying the playbook. Hard work contains an element of working smart.


I will never forget, I had a good buddy @ UCONN who I played hockey with and being the same school year and major we would often take the same classes. Because I transferred into UCONN after my freshman year I didn’t know “Doc” his freshman year but everybody told me to study with “Doc” because he is really smart. So I took that advice however “Doc” would drive me nuts because he would study forever: he would be the first at the library after practice and the last to leave. This didn’t work for me. I liked to get my work done and then play some cards or hang out with the guys from my dorm or varsity team. With great guilt I would come to the library after “Doc” and leave before “Doc”—It would drive me nuts that this guy was “out-working me.” Then one day, after all our mid-term exams were completed, the grades were published. I asked “Doc” what he got on this and that and realized my grade point was a full point above his. Furthermore, I came to realize that “Doc” equated time spent on something with effort and hard work. “Doc” would sit in that chair for hours and thinking he was working hard and sacrificing for a high grade. Fortunately, I learned at a young age, hard work is not only time spent on something and time sacrificed. Hard work is smart work: Knowing what needs to get done and getting it done smartly and efficiently.

Skating around the ice like a “chicken with its head chopped off” is hard work and “Doc” work: you think you are accomplishing something when you are absolutely wasting your energy, shift,  and hurting the TEAM because you are not in position. Guys need to play their position properly and within our systems—This is Hard Work and Smart Work that produces Top Results.

SPORTSMANSHIP/CLASS  A- : Overall, I thought we did a nice job of staying out of the box and not taking stupid penalties. Furthermore, the guys were not classless to our opponent.

RESULTS  A- : We won. However, I’m not happy with Wyandotte’s power play goal against us. I didn’t feel the Penalty Kill executed what we talked about and their was not a work ethic on that pk that I like to see. Furthermore, I was only pleased with one of our many pp opportunities that game

Nov 13, 2009, 1:01 am

Scrimmage #1: Novi defeats Port Huron Northern.

While most saw Joey Ferriss dominate the game with the puck, I saw the absence of a systematic fore-check. While most saw Tyler Perpich, Matt Stemkoski, and Zack Mohr make outstanding plays and score fantastic goals, I saw an undisciplined and sloppy fore-check in the neutral zone. While most saw our defenseman do a fantastic job possessing and moving the puck with patience and precision from D to D, I saw wingers and center-men out of position and not providing the proper outlets for our D. While most saw the play in the other team’s end most of the game, I saw very weak play along the walls in our own zone. While most saw Valleau jumping in the play and quarterbacking the power play, I saw too many unnecessary turnovers and “through-the-middle” passes that will kill a TEAM. While most saw a Novi TEAM that looked powerful, offensive, and physical, I saw a Novi TEAM nowhere ready to compete for the State Championship. Many times the ice seemed tilted to the other team’s end: We would fly down the ice offensively but struggle to get back defensively (typically a conditioning issue or a “lack of heart”). Sacrificial play was very limited: Not many took a hit to make a play, not many cleared the puck with urgency, and not many blocked any shots. Hard and dirty work was very selective—Offensively selective.

“Come on, Coach. You are being too critical.” Let’s get one thing straight early on: We are not competing against other teams or programs. We are competing against ourselves. We are competing against the proper and efficient execution of our systems. We are competing against TEAM verses Individual. We are competing against Good verses Great. We are competing against Satisfaction verses Excellence. We are competing against Process verses obvious Results. We are competing against “Novi Normal” verses D2 State Champions.

What is “Novi Normal?” “Novi Normal is a regional championship 7 of 11 seasons. Novi Normal is State Semi-Finalist 5 of 11 seasons and 2 of last 3 seasons. Novi Normal is State Finalist 1 of 11 seasons.  “Novi Normal” is “State Championship Loser.” This must change and this will change starting this season: Starting the next day, practice, and game!

“Novi Normal” is becoming “Novi Excellence.” “Novi Process” leads to the “New Novi Normal”: One win, one game at a time after one practice and one day at a time. Novi Style and Execution of Play leads to the fulfillment of the Novi Plan: “The Plan to Win the Next Game and the State Championship.” 

This TEAM has the choice and opportunity to accomplish what no other Novi High School Vasrsity TEAM has accomplished. It will be interesting to see what choice this TEAM makes.

Thank You!!!
Mar 13, 2009, 11:21 am
MHSAA State Semi-Finals

Mona Shores 2    Novi  1

As I expressed to the guys in the locker room after the game, I was not prepared for this outcome or to address the team at this time in this circumstance.  My mind and heart were focused on winning one game at a time and the State Championship.

It was truly my privilege to coach this TEAM. We worked hard together. We had fun together.  We won together. We lost together. We enjoyed being together. The game of hockey is great, but the life-long relationships developed through the hockey experience are greater.  

Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your perspective, the parents and public do not get to share in the highs and lows, the laughter and frustration, the teasing and camaraderie, the grind and relaxation, the sweat and tears, and the overall life of the Locker Room. On the absolute best of TEAMS, the Locker room is a safe place away from home and school where peer pressure is real but not judgmental. It's a place where the ups and downs of hockey and life are brought by 22 student-athletes and 2 to 3 coaches every day. Personalities are vibrant, chatter never stops, and the stench of equipment grows stronger by the day. Although I love the game, I do not coach because of the game. I coach because of the student-athletes in the game. The life on life relationships developed over the course of a season. We were of the best of TEAMS, on and off the ice.

I will miss Erik, Ryan, Kyle, Sean, Brandon, Nick, Shane, Paul, and Anthony. However, I am excited for them in their life pursuits. These nine seniors are fantastic people. As another senior class comes through the program, I reflect on my time with them and ask myself “did I give them everything I have to give in our short time together?” “Did our hockey experience together equip each and every one of them to be better prepared in the pursuit of their life dreams and goals?”

A few weeks back before the playoffs began, I passionately spoke to the TEAM about “Quitting vs. Caring.”  After the talk, Coach Lewis and I went on the ice while the rest of the TEAM got dressed. I shared with him that I wasn't real proud of some of the colorful language I used, and maybe I'm too hard on our guys, and maybe I shouldn't be coaching at this level if these are the type of messages I have to deliver. Coach Lewis very simply confirmed this was a message that needed to be delivered in the way it was delivered. I still went home that night reflecting on it and woke up the next day with greater passion for coaching this team than I had the day before. I asked myself, if my son or daughter were on this TEAM would I want them to have received that message?  My answer was “absolutely yes.” My own kids need the message and I can only hope there will be a coach to deliver it to them someday.

I can assure this senior class I gave them everything I had to give of myself, and I know I received the same from them. Although we all would have like a better result to the end of this season, the real results will be manifested through the tremendous success everyone of these young men are going to one day earn in life. All the labor of the parents, teachers, coaches, friends, and family will come to fruition for these guys. We all will look upon each one of these guys' successes with great pride. I find it a great privilege to be even a small part of these guys' lives and I can tell you my journey in life has been tremendously enriched by each and every one of them.

To the returning student athlete varsity hockey players: Michael, Andrew, Alec, Nolan, Tyler, Tyler, Nolan, Brandon, Zach, Taylor, Evan, Alex, and Spencer, this must be the beginning. Yes, I am tremendously proud of you. I enjoy the relationship I have with each of you. However, If this year's experience does not motivate you to dig deeper, work harder, get stronger, and be better than ever before, please do not come back next year. This program is not for you. I have seen your passion and witnessed your work ethic. You have set the bar high and I will accept nothing less than more going forward. Your pursuit of excellence is not an elective course, it is mandatory and it begins today: How am I getting stronger? What am I doing to get stronger and better? What can I do to get stronger and better? These are questions you should be asking yourself and finding answers and solutions to. Please do not enter next season as many did this season thinking they should have worked harder in the summer and fall and feeling like they needed to catch up. You not only owe it to yourself, you owe to your TEAM, family, and community to be best you can be. No Regrets and No Excuses!!!

Thank you to all the guys for your commitment, dedication, effort, and time together.

Thank you to the parents for your trust, support, and encouragement. I'm sure we can agree to disagree on many hockey related decisions involving the TEAM and specifically your son. However, I can assure you I have the utmost respect for each and every family and student athlete involved in the varsity hockey program. Furthermore, there was not one decision made on our TEAM that was personal or political in nature. Nor will there ever be.

I look forward to seeing everybody in the community and wish you all the best.

Novi going to Compuware for State Semi-Finals
Mar 11, 2009, 1:05 am
State Quarterfinals
Novi 2   Walled Lake Northern 1 in OT


I would much rather be playing than coaching. I cannot deal with that on a regular basis. I have a newfound respect for all my past coaches. That was exciting but ugly.  At the end of the day, who cares how we won, WE WON!!!

The guys did a fantastic job of battling through difficult circumstances to find a way to get the job done. The emotional, mental, and physical hangover from the Brother Rice victory was more than i expected or prepared for. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Walled Lake Northern and the effort they put forth. They played a hard-nosed style of hockey that put themselves into a position to win a big game.

We did not play our brand of “NOVI” hockey nor could we find the guy who stole our legs and flattened us like pancakes, but we found a way to come out on top. Congrats Novi!!

The only thing more exciting than playing hockey on Thursday night at Compuware in the D2 State Semi-finals is playing Saturday in the D2 State Finals. There are only 12 teams out of 176 High School Hockey teams in the State of Michigan still competing. There are only 4 teams among the 54 D2 teams still competing. Obviously, we are one of the 4 teams. As much as we are proud to be among the last four standing, this is not our goal. The State Championship is our goal.

One team stands in the way of our opportunity to compete for the State Championship: Muskegon Mona Shores.

As people continue to shake their heads and wonder, “who is this Novi TEAM?,” we must not focus on doing our best but doing what is necessary to get the job done: Defeat Mona Shores.

We are more than capable of beating Mona Shores. I believe in our players and our game plan to beat Mona Shores. We can and will beat Mona Shores through our TEAM effort, Hard Work, and results oriented philosophy!!! Now, we must go on the ice and execute with Heart, Smarts, and Legs!!!

Go Wildcats!!!

Mar 7, 2009, 8:58 am
Novi 2  Brother Rice 1

Novi, Regional Champions!!!!

“That was an incredibly gutsy performance,” Brother Rice Coach Lou Schmidt. “The way you guys blocked shots and got a stick on every loose puck was unbelievable.”

To say that I am proud of our guys is almost too simplistic and an understatement. There were many excellent individual performances but the TEAM performance was incredible. It is not just the TEAM performance in the game against Brother Rice. It has been the TEAM training, attitude, work ethic, and resolve to get better each and every day as individuals and as a TEAM that led to this performance.

As a coaching staff we often look to little signs to see if the TEAM has what it takes to win a State Championship. There were 2 very significant signs that occurred within the last month that gave me significant reason to believe our pursuit of a State Championship was alive. And NO, one of the signs was not our victory over Brother Rice or just getting through Walled Lake Western.

The first sign occurred after our sloppy and unacceptable loss to South Lyon at KVIH. On our storage closet door, we taped 9 sheets of paper containing our “plan to win the next game.” This plan was designed as our blue print of hockey philosophy, understanding, and strategy in our pursuit of the State Championship. Upon our arrival from KVIH I was the first off the bus. I went into the locker room and ripped all 9 sheets off the door, crumbled them up, and threw them in the center of our locker room and left for the night. Sign #1: When I arrived for practice the next day, all the crumbled sheets were put back in order and taped on the door. I could not have been more excited! Someone on this TEAM believed in the plan for the TEAM and “cared” enough to make sure we stick to the plan no matter what circumstance we face or how we previously performed.

The second sign was a decision the TEAM made last week. I continually speak about the fact that “I have had my time and this is not about your coach.” I could care less about “my” record and “my” this or that. This is not about Remembering the Titans and the Coach being “your daddy.” This is the Novi Varsity Hockey Student-Athlete's TEAM!!!
I run, direct, and coach the program but I am always aware of who performs on the ice, who has to find a way to get the job done, and who has to work hard-physically, mentally, and emotionally on and off the ice in the pursuit of excellence: The Novi Varsity Hockey Student-Athlete. Therefore, many times during the season I bring issues, questions, and decisions to the TEAM to ultimately determine the direction of the TEAM and how the coaching staff has to adjust its approach toward the TEAM and individuals. Last week, I gave the TEAM a choice: We could put the rest of the season, playoffs, on cruise control and enjoy ourselves after a good regular season or we could get to work by skating 80 minutes of conditioning without pucks. I told them I would be disappointed if they chose cruise control but I would understand and adjust my planning and preparation accordingly. Sign #2: They chose to skate 80 minutes without pucks.
With under 5 minutes to play in the 3rd and a 2 to 0 lead against Brother Rice, the guys consistently communicated to each other 2 things: “Stick to the game plan” and “this is what we skated and worked for.”

To say I'm proud is an understatement. It is truly a privilege to coach this TEAM.

Now, with that said, Let's get focused on the next game. We expected to beat Brother Rice and we expect to compete for and win the State Championship. If one has been reading Coach's Corner throughout the season, one will recognize all the threads being sewn together for the process of pursuing the State Championship.  

Our next game will be against Lakeland or Walled Lake Northern. We must play NOVI HOCKEY to beat either one of these formidable opponents. Our focus, energy, and effort has got to be taken to a level higher than the Brother Rice game. Is that possible? Absolutely and Necessary.

The “plan to win the next game” begins at practice tonight at 9pm.

TEAM Goals Against & Quick Game Summaries since last update
Feb 22, 2009, 12:41 am
TEAM Goals Against:
2008-2009  TBD  (44 to date)
2007-2008  67
2006-2007  89
2005-2006  93
2004-2005  75
2003-2004  87
2002-2003  73
2001-2002  72
2000-2001  70
1999-2000  59

TEAM Defense, TOP Defensemen, and Excellent Goaltending are reflected in the numbers. Furthermore, Every professional knows TEAM defense "first" creates scoring chances and wins Championships!!
BTW, if one does not shoot, ones likelihood of scoring is significantly less than one that shoots. Furthermore, the one who shoots within the framework of the net has a much better chance of scoring than the one who shoots over or wide of the net. Frequent and quick release shooting, within the framework of the net, result in GOALS. SHOOT THE PUCK ON NET and CRASH THE NET!!!! GOALS WILL RESULT!!!!!!

Quick Game Comments:

Novi 6  Canton 0     Payback Sucks! Novi has improved since loss to Canton. Manning  injured in first loss. Manning 2 goals and 1 assist in victory. Valleau, minus 2 and no production the first game, and 2 goals in game 2. Pez allowed 6 goals in game 1 vs. Canton and no goals in game 2. Every one of Novi's top 6 leading scorers had a point or more in Victory and only 1 of 6 had point in defeat. Defensemen that turned over the puck and were minus the first game were plus and limited turnovers in Victory. TEAM defense was excellent and puck movement was clicking(Tic Tac Toe).

Novi 1  Stevenson 1    Great Hockey Game. Unfortunately they tied us in last 30 seconds of the game but I felt we took it to them most of the game. We executed our systems real well in all 3 zones. Great showing against the #11 ranked team in the state.

Rochester United 3  Novi 1     We were outworked and outplayed for the first 2 periods. We survived the first 2 periods to give us a chance to tie and/or win. 3rd period we got back to our game plan and played a solid period of hockey but didn't finish on our chances.

Novi 3  St. Clair Shores 0     Excellent hockey game by both teams. Obviously, the score doesn't reflect how close the game was: 1 to 0 going into last 2 minutes. We worked hard and played well defensively and it paid off. Nice win against a traditionally excellent blue collar, hard working team.

South Lyon 3  Novi 2     Sloppy and undisciplined play. Nowhere near the performance expected and frankly a big disappointment. Undisciplined penalties and very poor system execution. TEAM concepts put aside for individually failed efforts.

Novi 8  Walled Lake Western 1    Took care of business. Coaches were not happy with selfish efforts and varying from TEAM system play for ones individual stat production against a poor team. Emphasized the need to bury the puck every chance we got around the net.

Novi 3  Northville 3     Heartbreaker!!!  We deserved a win. We took it too the #1 rated team in the state in all 3 zones. Very unfortunate result dictated by extremely poor officiating in the 3rd period. I am not one to look at or blame officials but that was a horrendous call by the official that impacted the momentum, tempo, and result of the game. In the 38 years I have been involved in the game of hockey, that was the first time I ever witnessed an uncontested and non competing goal in a game dictated by a referee intimidating a young player. Inexcusable but life goes on. Okay, I know: I'm still a little sour and having a tough time letting it go.

Stevenson 2  Novi 1     Great game of hockey. We took it to them at certain points in game but I felt overall they out chanced us and had the better team that night. Good showing by us but nowhere near enough to tie or beat a high rated team in the state.

Novi 1  South Lyon 1     Sloppy game that could have gone either way. Too many undisciplined penalties and selfish efforts. Play in all 3 zones was weak and uncharacteristic of our TEAM.

Great HS Hockey Game
Jan 19, 2009, 11:35 pm
Livonia Churchill 1   Novi 1

A great High School hockey game. Hard work and Heart by Novi dictated the play most of the game. Although, We didn't capitalize on a number of opportunities. Churchill's goalie played fantastic, as well as Novi's goalie and TEAM defense. We played the best TEAM defense of the whole season against Churchill. We need these type of close and intense games to continue our development as a TEAM in  our pursuit of the League and State Championship. It is these close games that develop character and TEAM confidence going forward. I am very encouraged by our overall improvement in defensive zone play.

Article in Livonia newspaper after the game:

The benefits of a tie certainly outweighed any loss Friday night for both the Livonia Churchill and Novi boys hockey teams.
Senior Ken Masiarczyk picked up a puck just inside the blue line and ripped a slap shot into the upper right-hand corner with 8:38 remaining in the final period to give Churchill a 1-1 draw with the Wildcats.
After a scoreless opening period where Novi had a 11-6 shot advantage, the Wildcats continued to apply even more pressure in the second period and cashed in.
Evan Dixon scored unassisted when he won the draw off right face-off circle, controlled the puck, and slid wrist shot while falling to ice past a stunned Churchill netminder Adrian Motta at the 7:02 mark.
Novi certainly carried the play through the first two periods, outshooting the Chargers, 23-12.

“We out-chanced them most of the game and we were in their zone more -we had our chances, but just didn't capitalize,'' Novi coach Todd Krygier said. “We had one-on-zeros and two-on-ones four or five times and their goalie came up big.''

With the deadlock, Novi is now 9-3-2 overall and 4-2-1 in the KLAA's Central Division.

“I won't lie, we're not satisfied,'' Krygier said. “We had plenty of opportunities. Their goalie won it for them. The kid (Motta) did a great job, but our goalie (Michael Pesendorfer) made some key saves for us as well.

“It was a good high school hockey game. Both teams deserve credit for how hard they worked and played.''

Churchill, however, owned the third period outshooting the Wildcats by a 10-1 margin. And the Chargers nearly won it with nine seconds remaining when Pesendorfer stopped a short back-hand attempt by Steve Klisz.

“The third period we talked about keeping things simple,'' Churchill coach Pete Mazzoni said. “We had a lot of unforced errors the first two periods. The third period we did a good job of going north and south with the puck.

“What kids want to do now is the pretty stuff, made the extra pass. But sometimes good-old fashioned work is the best remedy.''

Once again Motta came up big for Chargers.

“A.D. (Adrian Motta) played phenomenal,'' Mazzoni said. “The puck was in our end more than theirs, but the bottom line is that scoreboard said 1-1.''

Krygier's team reacted afterwards as if they had lost, but the Novi coach put the tie in perspective.

“The objective was to win the game, but we also wanted to compete,'' he said. “Last year we lost to them 7-1. Pete's (Mazzoni) always got a great program. We're playing a lot better, and because of our personnel, we're competing more.''

Mazzoni, meanwhile, also sees an elevation in Novi's play this season.

“They're much improved,'' he said. “They play the way Todd played as a player -gritty, stick-on-stick in the gaps and they're aggressive.''

No Regrets and No Excuses
Jan 13, 2009, 1:30 am
I recently spoke with a Novi Prep player and suggested he do what no other high school player will do in 2009: 31,200 pushups. “What??” “That's crazy!!” “Coach, why would you suggest that?” “I've never heard of that before.” “What will that do?”
I can only imagine, and maybe even hope, these were some of the thoughts and questions bouncing around in his testosterone saturated mind and body.

I continued: All he has to do is get up 5 minutes earlier each day than he does today and do 2 sets of 25 pushups. By the way, this player can do that now without a problem. Then, after dinner or when he is at the rink after the game or before or after practice, he can take 5 minutes and do 2 sets of 25 pushups. I suggested he takes Sunday off and he charts each week. In 2009, 100 pushups per day, 6days per week, for 52 weeks are 31,200 pushups. I predict that would be at least 25,000 more pushups than any other High School hockey player in the state of Michigan. Do you think this might help his game?

It is this approach to the game that I personally lived. It is this approach that is the most common denominator among all professional athletes: shoot 500 pucks a day, stickhandle 500 strokes a day, 500-600 squats a week, etc.... it applies to every sport and profession. Pretty soon those little everyday activities add up into peak performances. Is this too much for you?

Furthermore, it applies to our Novi Varsity Hockey TEAM. We consistently work at Puck Protection, Puck Possession, and Puck Movement. We skate hard in practice working on the forecheck to get the puck back. We work on drill after drill of different forms of regroups and attacks from nzone to ozone. We practice 1on1's, 2on1's, 2on2's, 3on2's, 3on3's, 5on5's, power plays, penalty kills, shooting to hit the net, making saves, dzone coverage, and different game like scenarios, etc… “Would you know it?” “Does it show?”

“Yea, it shows most of the time against weaker teams.”

What about the stronger teams? “Yea, sometimes.” Why not all the time no matter who is the opponent? “Good Question!!!”

Coach's answer:

  • First, when we play against opponents with higher tempo games we do things we don't normally do instead of just increasing our tempo. For example, Instead of moving the puck in the direction we are skating or protecting the puck with our body or an escape move we panic and throw it away without looking. Is this what we practice?
  • Second, we have not been patient enough. We don't have to score right now or depend on any one individual to carry puck through opponents by themselves even though we have several players that take that responsibility upon themselves. We begin to play selfish. Does this fit into our TEAM core values?
  • Third, we complicate the game by over-handling the puck and trying to make plays that don't exist when a hard around or high off the glass and out is the right play. What is wrong with making the obvious play and keeping it simple?
  • Lastly, We don't play with the edge and competitiveness necessary to overcome different circumstances. Have we not worked hard enough and sacrificed enough to understand what is ours?

***There has got to come a point, in order for a team to be extremely successful, where every member of the team gets focused to execute what is practiced everyday and competes at a level that will not tolerate losing: losing a battle, losing a race, losing a hit, losing a shot block, losing a man, losing a game, etc… This is what I refer to as the mental and emotional side of the game.***

We have got to translate our hard work into a game attitude that will not allow our opponent to take from us what we have worked so hard to prepare to earn. The hundreds and thousands of repetitions performed by us will prevail. The extra skating and the extra pushups, and the extra stick handling, and the extra……was not done in vain. Or Was it??

Did we work extremely hard skating, shooting, practicing, etc… just to do it or was it to win games and pummel opponents? Did we sacrifice a three-week Christmas break and family vacations to lose to teams that took a far longer break than we took. What have we done and been doing since June 2008? What have we been doing it for??

We have a lot of guys jogging on the tracks of “Activity without Achievement.” Please quit fooling yourself and trying to fool me into believing you want on the train. I am not looking for guys asking for permission to get on the train. I am waiting for the TEAM that is going to kick me out of the driver's seat and take this train and run over and through city after city, team after team—One game at a time up the rankings and to the Championship.

This is your TEAM. This may be your only opportunity. Take Control of your destiny and don't let anyone stand in the way.


2nd Half Goals and Expectations
Jan 4, 2009, 10:30 am
2nd Half Goals and Expectations:

We have 13 regular season games left and the potential of 6 playoff games. I believe we can still win our KLAA Division, Conference, and League Championship.

Furthermore, I believe we can win the State Championship.

None of these Goals will be easy; They must be EARNED through Hard Work, and Simple and Intelligent Performance.

It will take every member of our TEAM totally committed to and dedicated to our core values and executing our TEAM systems within "the Plan to Win the Next Game." Every member of our TEAM must compete beyond his best levels of the past.

I am "ASKING and REQUIRING" every Student-Athlete to give the TEAM everything (Mentally, Emotionally, and Physically) one has to offer every shift on the ice.
Anything short of "EVERYTHING" is a disservice to the TEAM and oneself, and will not be tolerated.


Last 3 Games
Jan 4, 2009, 10:00 am
Clarkston 1   Novi 6

Best overall TEAM effort and individual efforts of the year. The urgency (Quickness of skating and puck movement), desperation (blocking shots and winning battles), and good decision making (keeping it simple, not turning over the puck, and making the plays, with and without the puck, we practice everyday) demonstrated through the guys performance was the best of the year. Our Puck Protection, Puck Possession, and Puck Movement were excellent. Our Power Play did an outstanding job of getting dirty, making nice plays, and putting the biscuit in the basket. Penalty kill was good overall but still needs to adhere to our systems more consistently. Together Everyone Accomplished More, the Hard Work was excellent and more consistent over the course of the game, we stayed away for undisciplined penalties, and the Results showed.

Before this game I spoke to the guys about taking my choices away and the ways in which an individual and or group of guys can determine their own ice time. Previously, I wrote about these concepts and I consistently talk about it. I have no personal interest in who I put on the ice: I choose the guys who have made me choose them through their attitude, hard work, sacrifice, execution of responsibilities, good decision-making, and production results. Continually, every player on this team has the opportunity to take my choices away. The fact is we are a far better team when 22 guys force me to play them than when only 10 to 14 players make my choices for me. Internal competition for ice time will always help our TEAM compete better.

Novi 1     Davison 3

•    Good first period
•    Second and Third Period we were out worked. We lost the races to the puck and the battles for the puck.
•    Dzone coverage was weak as well as 2 of the 3 goals against.
•    The urgency in our game was non-existent after the first.
•    TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More) meant nothing as we tried to do it all ourselves and turned over the puck time after time because of not protecting and moving the puck. In other words, we played selfish.
•    Very disappointed losing to an opponent we should have beat. All the more credit to Davison for their hard work, never quit attitude, and finding a way to beat a Novi team that is ranked higher and in the MIHL showcase.
•    Almost embarrassing  

Novi 3    Salem 1

Good win coming off a terrible loss.

I thought we rebounded well. It was a game characterized by a hangover from our loss to Northville. However, we found a way to get through the majority of the game until 2 excellent and unselfish plays were made in the last 4 minutes of the game to get us the win.


Northville vs Novi
Dec 13, 2008, 11:44 am
Northville vs. Novi

Period 1: 0 to 0. Northville wins period in terms of puck possession, puck pursuit, and the amount of time Northville hems Novi in Novi's Dzone.

Period 2: 3 to 2. Northville wins period. Northville scores 2 shorthanded goals and 1 power play goal. Novi's special teams fail miserably. The defensive coverage starting in the offensive zone and finishing with the puck in our net on the 2 shorthanded goals was inexcusable and terrible. The penalty kill ran around and missed responsibilities.

If not for our goaltending in the first 2 periods, we would have been in a position to be mercied going into the third period. Instead, we had an opportunity to continue to compete and win the game in the third period.

Although the advantage was to Northville in both the first 2 periods, because our special teams play failed in the 2nd period and we totally ignored what we work on in practice (Quick Puck Movement, Puck Possession, Puck Protection, Positional play in all 3 zones, Responsible TEAM and individual play in the Defensive Zone, and Attack plays starting from our defensive zone) during the first period, we continued to compete to keep ourselves in a position to win. Furthermore, the adjustments we made after the first period to our fore-check and dzone coverage/strategy to counter Northville's pinching worked well. We created some nice and timely goals and began to open up the ice.  

Period 3: 5 to 0. Northville continues their game plan of aggressively pursuing the puck and moving the puck unselfishly to the open man. Novi begins watching and stops skating. Novi's Puck Protection strategy and philosophy is replaced by a heartless “hot potato” activity reminiscent of our first period “panic” turnovers. Novi gets beat to loose pucks and loses battles on the walls. Our positional play in all areas of the ice and especially in the defensive zone deteriorates and we get exploited.

This game itself, during the 3 periods, and the resulting score are not representative of the quality of team we are capable of being, how hard we have worked, how well we practice, and how good or not good we are. Our play in this game represented us as an immature and inexperienced team competing against an aggressive, tenacious, more experienced and unselfish hockey team.

Signs of immature and inexperienced Teams:
1) Lack of disciplined and consistent Pre-Game preparation as a TEAM and individually. Too many mental distractions and activities unrelated to what is necessary to win the next game.
2) Execution of what is practiced on a daily basis replaced by Team and individual Panic and uncharacteristic actions on the ice.
3) Difficulty adapting to change in strategy and systems during the game.
4) Performance as a team and individual against average and weak teams is successful and very good. Performance as a team and individual against good and excellent teams is poor and ineffective.
5) The Team and individual actually feel as though they are giving their all and working as hard as they can but don't understand how these negative results could be happening to them.
6) SELFISHNESS: “Forget what is supposed to be done and what the TEAM needs me to do, “I” am going to do it “my way”. After all, this is what “I” used to do and it got “me” this far.”

So, how does this change?

In other words, how does a team move from immature and inexperienced to a State Champion without changing personnel?

Stay Tuned. The process is underway.

Dec 11, 2008, 11:12 pm
Novi 5   Farmington 1

Last year,  Farmington beats us in a scrimmage 5 to 0 and went on to a great season and a playoff run to the State Semi-Finals. They are a well coached team and traditionally have a very successful program.

Payback during this year's regular season game, against a well coached and hard working team with a tradition of success, was satisfying for the following reasons:  Mark Vellucci is a neighbor and friend to the Nolan Anderson family. Furthermore, Mark is a friend of mine, a great coaching resource to me,  a co-creator with me and 4 other coaches of the Michigan Elite High School Hockey Program, and a great person and ambassador for high school hockey.
More importantly, We needed to execute our game plan--which we did. We needed to bounce back after the Canton loss by working hard and competing while playing smart, simple, and consistent--which we did. We needed better overall performances and work ethic from each individual on the TEAM--which we did. Lastly, we needed to create more scoring chances and puck movement on the power play--which we did through inverting our power play setup.

The guys did a great job preparing for and getting focused on the Farmington game. The results showed. Furthermore, our 3P's(Puck Possession, Puck Protection, & Puck Movement) improved, we stayed out of the box, and we executed our game plan.

Overall, It was a job well done!

Take Away My Choices
Dec 6, 2008, 2:22 am
Canton 6  Novi 1

Yea that's right. Novi got “schooled” by Canton.

I thought our team was wearing White not Green during the first 2 periods. The “White” team skated hard, won the races and the battles, moved the puck well, put the puck in the net, and basically out worked the “Green” team.

In the pre-game talk I mentioned 2 things:  First, Canton's top players are 8, 18, and 23. We need to be aware when they are on the ice and play well defensively against them. Second, we need to work and compete.

First Period: Canton Goal #1---13 from 8, 18
First Period: Canton Goal #2---23 from 22
First Period: Canton Goal #3—23 unassisted
Second Period: Canton Goal #4---23 unassisted
Second Period: Canton Goal #5---18 Unassisted

Well Coach, why didn't you change it up and play someone specifically against these players? “I don't get the last change.” (Besides, we were making quite a few changes to try and get a spark going). We needed to be responsible as a TEAM and play good team defense as well as good individual efforts against their top players.

Four of the 5 goals, and 6 of the 8 points earned, were scored by the players we were supposed to be marking. We lost almost every race to the puck and almost every battle for & on the puck. There was hardly any puck protection, puck possession, and/or puck movement in the first 2 periods. The third period was negligibly better. We played the puck instead of the body way too often. The turnovers in the defensive zone were horrendous and inexcusable. We out shot Canton 11 to 5 in the first period and finished the period down 3 goals because of extremely poor decision making with the puck which Canton exploited very quickly. This is not the way we practice and this is not the way we should have been playing. This is not the way our TEAM is expected to perform.             

If you have been reading the Coach's Corner, I have been alluding to my concerns as we play better opponents. My concerns were validated tonight. I never accept losing and I never want to lose. However, tonight's loss was a great wake up call for the TEAM. Canton is a good team that works hard and moves the puck well but nowhere near the caliber of team we will face in the State Championship. This loss was absolutely necessary and will be extremely helpful as we move forward. For the new guys, “welcome to high school hockey.” For the veteran guys, “ C'mon, this shouldn't be happening.” The mood in the Locker Room before the game was loose and cocky. The atmosphere was immature and non-business like. Well, why didn't you change it coach? My approach rarely changes from game to game. My talk always focuses on our TEAM and our need to execute “the plan to win the next game.” The approach is even keeled and business like. A team has to mature through experiencing different atmospheres: Sometimes the TEAM is too loose like against Canton. Sometimes the TEAM is too up tight and nervous. I always try to have a good sense and grasp of where we are at and adjust our focus appropriately but ultimately the guys need to learn through experience where the balance is for this particular team.

We have an excellent TEAM. We will use this to our advantage and continue to work to become better. We will stick together and never quit. Although our performance was poor our TEAM attitude, togetherness, support for each other, and never quit attitude was excellent.

Lastly, I have one frustration rearing its ugly head: At this point in time, I have very few players on this TEAM taking away my choices. What do I mean? A player through his performance, work ethic, attitude, and execution of his role within our TEAM systems determines his own ice time. Players force the coach to give them more ice time based on their previous shift during the current game and shifts (overall performance) in previous games. Players build up short term and long-term performance accounts with the coaches. The Coaches give the most ice time and specific special team ice time to those players who build up the greatest performance accounts with the coaches. Currently, we have too many players drawing on account savings or with negative balances. When a player gets an opportunity to block a shot and passes it by with a “Flamingo” move, his ice time account balance decreases and most likely goes negative. When a player does not take a hit to make a play and/or fishes for the puck instead of playing the body, his ice time account balance suffers. When a player chooses to ignore our TEAM systems and do his own thing to the detriment to the TEAM, his ice time account balance suffers. When a player doesn't protect the puck or gets bumped off the puck or turns over the puck on a consistent basis the ice time account balance gets depleted quickly. The greatest level of frustration for the coaches and the player occurs when the coach has to make decisions instead of the player making his own decisions for ice time through his on ice and off ice performance, execution of our game plan, hard work, sacrifice, and attitude.

GUY'S, Please take away the coaching staff's choices. The TEAM will be better and everybody (Player, Coaches, and Parents) will be more satisfied and happy.  I do not look down the bench and think of anything but who can help our TEAM the best now in this particular situation based on past performance. This is not like the stock market industry where “past performance is not guaranteed and reflective of future results.” In Hockey, past performance is the greatest indicator of future results. There is no fine print. The odds are those who have been successful will continue to be until a certain age. TAKE AWAY MY CHOICES!!!!!!!!!

Dec 4, 2008, 12:20 am
Novi 2   Plymouth 0

I shared in the Locker Room after the first period we are lucky and good. We need to take the luck out of the equation and move our game from good/average to the next level.

Why? Isn't luck a good thing? Don't we create our own luck? Yes, Luck is a good thing and yes we create our own luck through hard work and preparation. However, I don't want to depend on 5 vs 3 shorthanded goals, our opponents mishandling the intercepted passes we make through the neutral zone (bad turnovers), missed empty nets by us, defense getting caught up ice and therefore giving up odd man rushes, and great opportunities for our opponents because of our sloppy play in the defensive zone.

We need to tighten up our game in all areas of the ice. For example, we work on neutral zone regroups every practice. We move the puck from D to D to strong side wing to the supporting center and attack. However, in tonight's game we went D to D to weak side winger across the ice and our passes were intercepted. Furthermore, when we practice our set plays on the power play we move the puck from the half wall down to the strong side corner back up to the strong side defense to the other defense for a shot opportunity. In the game we skip the pass down low to the strong side and don't make easy play to strong side D but we try to move puck from half wall to weak side D. This is not what we practice and it rarely works. I like high percentage plays that create opportunities a high percentage of the time. We practice these plays every day and we will continue to do so. We want to play the game smart, simple, and consistent. For whatever reason we started today's game less than smart and not very simple.

As the game went on we did a much better job protecting the puck, possessing the puck, and moving the puck. I give their goalie credit for all the great saves he made keeping them in the game until the end. I really thought we should have had another 2 to 3 goals. Also, I give Pez credit for the key saves he had to make the last 5 minutes of the game to continue to give us the opportunity to win. Furthermore, guys did a great job of blocking shots and getting our sticks out in front of our opponent's sticks before most shot and/or pass attempts.

I am very proud of our guys. They stick together, pull for each other, and work hard. They are very coachable and want to learn. We still need to work much harder, smarter, and simpler in order to get our game where it needs to be. WE CANNOT LET A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY CREEP INTO OUR LOCKER ROOM AFTER A FEW WINS. We must pursue excellence in our game.

Our “Plan to Win the Next Game” against Canton begins tomorrow with a team meeting at 2:35 and a quick skate from 3 to 3:50pm. In our team meeting we will discuss the reasons we deviate from the plan and how we can help each other stay the course and perfect the process to results. Then we will continue to work on our team systems and puck movement.

The 4 Things a Hockey Player Must Have
Dec 1, 2008, 11:20 pm
A former teammate of mine called me the other day to sell me a “unique, biodegradable, green, disinfectant that eliminates odors completely.” He says, “it's not like Fabreze or those other fragrant solutions that mask odor. This product is unique because it actually changes the molecular structure of odor causing molecules.” You can imagine how hard I started to laugh when the former Pig Farmer, retired NHL player, and current Professional Scout for the Red Wings described this “revolutionary” product.  I told him to bring me a few bottles to the rink today. God knows we need it asap, if it works.  This is in addition to the Air Freshener and Ionizer, the Cova's donated to the locker room. Maybe we can get that locker room smelling “salon pleasant” before the New Year but I doubt it.

Well my former teammate was running a little late and wasn't able to make it before practice began. He arrived about 3:10pm in the middle of our NZ build up drill where the puck carrier attacks the dot (Imaginary defenseman) and curl off looking to hit the late guy in the high slot. After we finished with the drill, I wrote the check for the “revolutionary product” to save all the guys sense of smell for a lifetime. It was then that I asked Pat Verbeek to share with our TEAM what he looks for in players as the Red Wing Scout in charge of Scouting NHL players and AHL players. Furthermore, Pat scouts the Trenton Showcase looking for players for the Junior B team he owns in Ontario. BTW, Many eventual college players start in this Canadian Junior B League after and during High School.

Pat shared with us the 4 things he looks for in a player and why: Legs, Heart, Smarts, and Work Ethic. Most Importantly, Work Ethic. Legs- a player has to be able to skate and move to win races and battles to and for the puck. Heart- a player has to compete and lay everything on the line everyday to be successful. Smarts- a player has to understand how the game is played and he must think the game, just like we work on in practice. Work Ethic-a player has to have tremendous work ethic. Why, because the players that work the hardest end up being the most successful. Pat shared there are many with great talent but no work ethic. Talent does not win out over work ethic. Both are desired and needed. Furthermore, talent and skill is further developed through work ethic.

These are Pat Verbeek's words and descriptions to the TEAM and me. Pat said he hoped to see us at the Trenton Showcase. Getting our TEAM to the Trenton Showcase is one of my top priorities this season. Only the 20 some TEAMs, that start the season the best and are perceived as the best, will be selected by the committee. We need to earn our spot. No Excuses and No Regrets.

After the guys heard from Pat, and it sort of sunk in that Pat Verbeek gave them years of professional playing and scouting advice, a few guys shouted thank you as he left. After we entered the locker room when practice was over I was asked, “you know him?” “Do you personally know him?” Yes, we played together for the Hartford Whalers and he and his wife came to my wedding. “Well who else came to your wedding?” Many guys. Then Nolan Valleau went right after me and asked if “Mario Lemeuix came to my wedding?” Nolan will pay!

If one was to ever wonder (and I know nobody ever does and nobody ever thinks I've lost my mind) “why is he so hard on the “boys” about Discipline, Team Systems and Structure, Rules, Work Ethic, Attitude, Passion and Competing,” it is because this is the language of the successful and accomplished people at the top of their professions throughout the world. My first hockey coach, who is the CEO of Novellus Corporation, and Pat Verbeek speak the exact same language. From my immigrant great grand parents to my grandparents to my parents to every NHL coach I played for speak the same language: Work Ethic, Smarts, Heart, and Motivation. This is not just about hockey; It's about the young men in our community being successful for life.

Current perspective: We better come ready to Skate, Compete, Work Hard and Smart, and beat our next opponent: Plymouth. Results Matter!!!!

Game #4 Analysis & Grades
Nov 29, 2008, 10:48 am
Walled Lake Western 2     Novi 6

TEAM (Together Everyone Accomplishes More): B

Guys need to do a better job of sticking together and not getting critical of each other when game is close or momentum is shifting away from us. Guys need to support each other by staying positive and focused through all aspects and times of the game.

Hard Work: B
Guys need more urgency during game. Our intensity needs to pick up. The first 2 Fore checkers were getting lazy and the top of the triangle was cheating.        Too many times our defense were getting caught “trying” for loose pucks
and then we give up odd man rushes. This is not our system.

Back checking was weak and play in defensive zone was sloppy and lacked urgency. Puck protection in the defensive zone was terrible.
There is no place for “toe curling” and turning over the puck in the Dzone.

Sportsmanship: B
The way guys treat each other and speak to each other on the ice has got
 to improve. Positive communication and encouragement has to be the

Results: A

The score speaks for itself but the process has much room for improvement.

Puck Possession, Puck Protection, and Puck Movement:

The line (9, 19, 18) producing the most has been the most
unselfish and has moved the puck the best. There have been too many
selfish and individual efforts leading to turnovers in the offensive zone
from the other lines. Production is not where it needs to be because the
smart and simple plays are not being made. For example, head manning the  puck, moving the puck immediately to the open player, and the decision making between a “guaranteed” assist vs. “I want” a goal. This TEAM will begin to play at the level they are capable when every player takes just as much pride in making a play as scoring a goal. A shot is always a good play but there may be many better plays available. Our guys need to start making better and unselfish choices.

The Defense must move the puck quicker and more accurately. The defense need to get back with urgency and under-handle the puck. The extra stick-handling move is delaying and prohibiting our attack and allowing more turnovers.


We are playing against an opponent but we are competing against ourselves.
The Question? How well are we controlling what we can control: Attitude,
 Execution of “the Plan to Win the Next Game,” and our Work Ethic. We
 must pursue Excellence in every aspect of the game and Defy the
 complacency of “good.”

Livonia Franklin 0 Novi 9
Nov 27, 2008, 5:19 pm
Livonia Franklin 0     Novi 9

As one walks into the main area of our locker room, one will read, “Hunger not for Success, but Excellence.” As one looks to the right, one will read, “Good is the Enemy of Great.”

After an outside observer watched the game last night, I heard the outside observer comment “who cares how Novi did against Franklin. Franklin has a weak team. Novi will get beat by SHS, Churchill, and Northville, and probably a couple of the other teams in the conference. We will all see how good Novi is very shortly.” Although I had some emotions well up within and wanted to respond, I knew the observer's comments were correct to an extent. However, his comments are not applicable to us right now.

In the Washington Capitals locker room an inscription was hung on the wall: “Do not worry about what you can not control, work hard on the things that are in your control.” The things that are directly in our control as a TEAM and an individual are our attitude, our performance through the execution of our game plan, and our effort.

The Novi Wildcats Varsity Hockey TEAM has one goal: The execution of our game plan. The game plan is not incongruent and outrageously stated goals. The game plan is what we refer to as “the Plan to Win the Next Game.” The plan is posted in the locker room and discussed, directly or indirectly, at each practice and before each game. “the Plan to Win the Next Game” includes our TEAM core values as well as our strategies with and without the puck in all three zones, including special teams. This plan is what we control through our hard work, our execution, and our attitude.

The guys did an excellent job with “the plan to Win the Next Game” vs. Livonia Franklin. The overall Plan never changes. The strategies within the Plan will vary at different times of the season, as well as different periods of the current game, and against different opponents. Our focus is exclusively and intently upon “the Plan to Win the Next Game.”

The next game is not against SHS, Churchill, Northville, or many of the other teams we have scheduled. The next game is against Walled lake Western. We will remain intently focused on the things we can control: “the Plan to Win the Next Game.”

So, who cares about Novi's win over Franklin? We do! Who cares about SHS, Churchill, Northville, etc… We Do Not!!!  WE CARE ABOUT “the Plan to Win the Next Game.”
WE CARE about pursuing excellence in the things we control: Our Attitude, Our Game Plan Execution, and Our Effort against Walled Lake Western, our Next Game.

Our true competition is not the team we are going to play in the next game or any future games. Our true competition is ourselves in the Pursuit of Excellence and in our Defiance of Good.

Understanding Coach's Communication
Nov 23, 2008, 7:29 pm
Every June our Athletic Director, Curt Ellis, holds a retreat for his Coaches in the Novi School District. This past retreat was my third time attending. Curt brings in speakers and conducts group discussions on today's relevant topics in coaching. All of the retreats have been excellent. This past retreat i walked away with many "take away's." One of the most important of the "take aways" was a quick presentation on "Understanding a Coach's Communication."

Curt put this quick and excellent presentation together based upon information shared in one of Pat Summitt's books. Pat Summitt is nothing short of phenomenal as a Coach of Ladies Basketball at Tennessee.

In Summary, there are three different times communications take place between a player and a coach. Furthermore, there are three different methods of communication given the various times.

1) Off Ice in a social setting and/or player meeting. In this setting the coach communicates and acts in a "Confidant, Counselor, and/or Surrogate Parent" role. The coach listens, discusses, and advises.
2) Practice = "Teacher"  During practice the coach uses varied methods to maintain attention of student. Coach is focused on the fundamentals and technical aspects of the TEAM and individual.
3) Game = "General" During the game/battle the coach communicates with Short, Blunt commands to move people to the right spots and motivate. There is no time for politeness or misunderstandings. Furthermore, there is no time for discussion or response from the player. Adherence to TEAM systems and objectives is emphasized and communicated during this time.

I shared this with our guys before the last game. They need to understand what situation they are participating in so they can understand the different types of communication that can be expected from the coach. Too often, during the games, the players are responding to or trying to discuss the coaching staff's instruction and/or commands. Furthermore, too often, the player does not use the off ice setting and/or practice to discuss the coaches instructions/commands from the previous games.

I continuosly make myself available to all our Team members in a practice and social setting. I cannot read minds. If there are no questions and or discussions i assume there is mutual understanding. especially when i consistently ask the team "Are there any questions concerning.....?"

The situation I frequently face is there are no questions and then a player goes and does something that they were instructed not to or that is not within our team systems that we discussed and practiced. This is unacceptable and a recipe for failure as a TEAM and an individual. Consequently, i have to assume the individual or "Maverick" from the "Top Gun" movie is choosing to act, play, and/or behave in a way that is contrary to the team and must be dealt with quickly and appropriately. The more proactive the student-athlete is concerning the communication during the different settings the more successful the individual and the TEAM.

Game #2 Analysis vs Macomb Dakota
Nov 23, 2008, 7:12 pm
Novi 3    Macomb Dakota 1

Novi moved the puck well and played an overall solid game. The guys were more disciplined in the defensive zone and cut the penalties by a 1/3 from the previous game. Although we out shot Dakota 2 to 1, Dakota hung in there way too long for any of the coaches liking. We all would have preferred to convert a few more chances. 95% of Dakota's shots came from outside home plate. Novi did a nice job of penetrating home plate in the offensive zone and 80% of Novi's shots were within home plate. Furthermore, Novi did a nice job blocking shots at key times and in key areas of the ice.

Again, Novi's special teams played well. The penalty killing units kept Dakota's PP off the score sheet and Novi scored 2 power play goals. Novi's PK units did an excellent job forcing the opposition to dump the puck and/or turn it over at Novi's blue line. The PP entered the zone with more support and did a better job of getting 3 guys on the puck and then getting into our setups. Quick and crisp puck movement on the PP still needs to improve.

PBP's were kept to zero. However, we still need to eliminate stupid and unnecessary penalties.

The coaches still believe we can do a better job winning the battles along the boards and taking a hit to make a play.  Our fore check has been creating numerous turnovers but we need to make quicker and better decisions with the puck after the turnover is created. There is too much activity without much achievement on the turnovers.

We will continue to work on our TEAM defense as well as our Puck Possession, Puck Protection, and Puck Movement. As we witnessed this weekend, Stevenson, Northville, and South Lyon have excellent hockey teams. We must perform at our highest levels on a consistent basis in order to be successful against the teams in our division, conference, and regular season. We have no easy games and we must bring our “A” game to every contest. I'm confident we will rise to the challenge and continue to be the hardest working team in the state.

Game #1 Analysis vs Rochester United
Nov 22, 2008, 9:36 am
The first period represented everything we have been focusing on in practice: Skating Hard, Puck Protection, Puck Possession, Puck Movement, Discipline Positional and Systems play. Our execution was excellent. Score at the end of 1: Novi 3 Rochester 0. Just one problem: We came into the locker room after the first period thinking we have won the game.

Rochester comes out in the second period skating hard and "hitting hard." Novi comes out selfish and not ready to be hit. Turnovers are created by Rochester through their effort and Novi's departure from team play: Puck Protection, Puck Possession, and Puck Movement. Team defense breaks down as Novi is more focused on scoring another goal and less focused on playing our style of play. The momentum of the game shifts to Rochester. However, Novi continues to work hard and get refocused. At end of 2: Novi 3 Rochester 2.

Rochester's momentum carries into the third period with a relatively quick goal. Novi continues to work hard to get back to executing it's TEAM play and systems. Novi does a great job of nuetralizing Rochester's momentum and returning to game plan. Keys saves by both team's goaltenders kept their respective teams in the game. End of regulation: Novi 3 Rochester 3.

Overtime: Both teams work hard and play well. Novi draws 2 penalties in a short time and creates a 5 on 3 opportunity. Novi sets up several attempts but is unable to convert the scoring opportunities. Again, a couple key saves from both goaltenders and the game ends tied.

Special Teams: Penalty Kill units did an excellent job keeping Rocheters PP units off the scoresheet.
Our power play scored and did a decent job for the first game of the season. I'd like to see a few more shots from the point on the power play. Furthermore, we need to get 3 guys on the puck and then get into our setups. We are spread to thin in offensive zone as we enter the ozone and battle for pucks in the ozone.

We will continue to perfect our systems. Our forecheck has been outstanding. Our TEAM defense needs to improve: All three of Rochester's goals were scored inside home plate. We need to be more aware of all positional responsibilities in the dzone and clear the puck every chance we get. Our urgency and discipline in the defensive zone need to improve.

Our overall puck possession, puck protection, and puck movement is very good relative to where we started over the last 2 seasons. As we continue to emphasize this and practice it, our execution in games will become better and better.

PBP's need to be eliminated! There is absolutely no room for these activities on this TEAM.

We must continue to play Smart, Simple, and Consistent.

Nov 20, 2008, 6:17 pm
The Student-Athlete Varsity Hockey Players and the Coaches have been consistently focusing on the following core values: TEAM, Hard Work, and Sportsmanship.
The TEAM(Together Everyone Accomplishes More) had a great retreat at Lake Ann. We worked on TEAM building through communication, full participation, cooperation, and creativity. The TEAM building facilitators lead us through different exercises, including paintball, and then discussed the process and outcome of each event. We all learned more about each other and about creating a TEAM. Dr. Bray continues to work with us on these same concepts but with more hockey specific application.
Hard Work: The guys have been working hard on and off the ice. The tempo and work ethic in practice has been excellent. The puck protection, puck possession, and puck movement have been excellent and continuing to improve each practice. The guys continue to leave everything they have on the ice during our conditioning drills. Off Ice, the guys have done over 1200 pushups and 5000 repetitons of different exercises over the last 2 weeks. Furthermore, we have had several team meetings discussing our systems and watching video of the systems. The focus and energy has been excellent.
Sportsmanship: These guys are great people. They know how to have fun, they know how to conduct themselves, and they have been doing a great job representing our community. Especially, during our stay at Lake Ann. I received numerous compliments from a "knitting" group of 45 ladies who were staying at Lake Ann at the same time we stayed. The guys were well mannered and cognizant of their environment. They treated the staff with courtesy and respect. We will continue to working on treating others like we would like to be treated.
Results: ?????????????????
Our work on results began as a team about 3 weeks ago. I believe our work ethic, unselfish TEAM play, intelligence, and competitive nature will lead to great results. We continue to focus on the process and not the results. We believe the results will be a product of the process. The process has been rigorous, demanding, and very structured. We do not go through this type of process and then allow any opponent to take from us what we have been working so hard for.

4 TEAM Core Values
Nov 9, 2008, 5:25 pm
The 4 Core Values of the Novi Varsity Hockey TEAM

These 4 Core Values define what “we stand for” as a TEAM, and “what we will be known for” as a TEAM.

1.     TEAM: Together Everyone Accomplishes More!
•    Sacrifice: Put team's needs and interests first above one's own self interests and needs. “Sacrificing individual gain for the team's greater good is the price of admission, all members must pay." Willing to perform in any role to make the team successful.
•    We Move, Play, and Perform in Unison as a TEAM. We play within the TEAM Systems.
•    â€œI will be responsible to and accountable to my TEAMMATES in all areas of Ice.” “I will cover for my TEAMMATES whenever Necessary.”
–    Like the Blue Angels cutting open the sky, we will strategically cut through our opponent and defeat him.
2.     Hard Work: We are The Hardest Working and the Most Tenacious Varsity Hockey TEAM in Michigan.
•    We Compete. “We find a way to get the job done!”
•    We leave everything on the ice: Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally.
•    We have the desire and willingness to do what others don't want to do: work harder than others want to work, and work longer than others want to work.
3.     Sportsmanship: We represent our community, school, family, and self on-ice and off-ice with class. We intently respect each other, opponents, officials, coaches, parents/family, all authority figures, and fans.
•    We play hard, clean, and within the rules of the game.
•    Respect: We treat other's the way we would like to be treated.
•    Be the friend you would want someone to be to you.

4.    Results:  “We Don't Mistake Activity with Achievement!” Results matter. We understand we are not measured by effort. However, we understand through the Hard Work of practice and preparation (Physical, Mental, and Emotional) comes success. Excellence in Process yields excellent results.

"4 TEAM Core Values" and the "Plan to Win"
Oct 1, 2008, 10:20 pm
"4 TEAM Core Values" and the "Plan to Win" 

Coming soon

"Showing Up"
Jun 30, 2008, 1:34 am
Parents pay the bills and Student Athletes "show up."

Knowing many of you parents and being a parent of 5 and having all 5 of my kids in high-level travel sports, I don't believe your only expectation is for your son to "show up." Personally, I will go out of my way to support my kids in the pursuit of their passions in life. I will work hard in my profession in order to earn the money to pay the bills so my kids can pursue their respective dreams and goals.

I have one expectation and it is not to "show up". I expect my kids to pursue excellence in their passion. More specifically, I expect them to work their butt off, have a great attitude, and respect the coach. Furthermore, I expect them to spend time away from the practice field and games working on their skills, conditioning, and strategies to be the best they can possibly be. I do not drag them to practice or games. I do not force them to work on their game outside of practice and games. When I see that my kids do not want to do any extra, go to practice, or just "show up" for a game I have a conversation with them about what is going on. I have no problem with the reason or excuse but they must understand I am not going to pay the bills for highly competitive sports. I will move them to the local parks and recreation leagues for their entertainment. I do not judge them, criticize their lack of commitment, or in any way negatively impact their self-esteem or self-worth because of their lack of interest. It is what it is, and that is okay until they find their passion and are willing to work hard--at and away from the field, have a great attitude, and respect the coach. I am not willing to pay top dollar for activities my kids are not passionate about. Furthermore, I know if they are not passionate I am just wasting my money and their time and energies in something they will no longer be involved with in the near future.

How do I know they won't be involved in that high level in the near future? Very simply, at the highest competitive levels at their respective ages, my kids must always remember, "when they are not practicing, someone, somewhere is practicing and when they meet, that person will win." One cannot compete if one is not prepared. The preparation must come long before the competition.

The Novi Wildcats Varsity Hockey program is a highly competitive program. The competition is not just from our opponents but also from within the TEAM. There are two to two and a half student athlete hockey players for every one spot on the roster. This is not a recreation program sponsored by the Novi Parks and Recreation department. There are many factors that go into picking a player and a team. In my opinion, the top factors are work ethic --at and away from the practices and games, talent/skill level (Which by the way is developed from working hard at the skills at and away from the games and practices), attitude, strength, performance/effectiveness, and respect for the coach and teammates. Change the order, mix the order. It doesn't matter to me. These factors are it. These factors are being displayed daily by each student athlete during the Summer, Fall, and Winter programs.

I cannot, nor do I want to, tell you how to spend your hard earned money or what your expectations should be for the money you spend on your son. I have put together a relatively inexpensive summer program with the necessary tools and elements to provide a structure and discipline for your son to have an opportunity to work hard on his game, on and off the ice.

I believe your expectations of your son are not much different than mine—Hard work, great attitude, and respect coach and teammates. I would like to encourage and even suggest to you to talk with your son about his passion for the game of hockey.

Many student athlete hockey players have been just “showing up.”

The trainers hired to train your son have mentioned to me the lack of attendance, the lack of work ethic, the joking around, and the ultimate lack of respect for those who are working their butts off. I'm sure this is not what you paid for.

Fortunately, many of the guys do have a fantastic work ethic, great attitude, and respect for coaches and teammates. Your money has been well spent.

This Summer Program time is not tryouts. One of the benefits of High School Hockey is that it is an arm of the academic institution and teaching is a big part of high school sports. Please use this time to make sure lessons are learned and change is promoted.

May 19, 2008, 2:33 am
I am very excited about the upcoming 2008-2009 season.

The dedication and commitment of many of the returning varsity players has been outstanding. Several players have chosen to play hockey on various teams and leagues throughout the Spring. Furthermore, there were several players who participated in the Eastern Junior Hockey League Showcase, Select Camps, and other Regional Showcases. Nonetheless, several returning varsity players participate and excel in other High School sports during the Spring season.

The Novi Varsity Hockey team is truly priviledged to have such hard working and dedicated student-athletes!

Another reason i am very excited about this coming season is the amount of talented young players in the system. The JV team did a fantastic job winning the league championship last season and has several players with Varsity potential for this next season and many seasons thereafter. Furthermore, there are several talented players who attend or will be attending Novi High School who play at high levels of club hockey that are interested in competing for their school and advancing to Junior and College programs.

Recently, 5 High School Coaches and Myself established Michigan Elite Hockey.
Check it out.
Just another opportunity for the best performing players in High School Hockey to get visibility with and against the top AAA programs throughout the country. This team will be participating in several Midget Major AAA tournaments.

Finally, i have received numerous inquiries about the Summer Program--Just Hockey Training. The Summer and Fall Programs are taking on a bit of a new look this year. Details will be released very soon. Stay tuned and Don't miss out on taking advantage of these excellent opportunities to develop as an individual and a team.

Hockey Updates and Perspectives
May 19, 2008, 1:51 am
Coming Soon

Add Your Coach's Wisdom Here
Apr 26, 2008, 11:13 am
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