Monday, September 24, 2007

Speed, Defensive Systems Are Focuses Monday

With less than two weeks until Colorado College's first hockey game, coaches Joe Bonnett and Norm Bazin began implementing defensive systems on Monday night. As in seasons past, the Tigers will play a man-to-man defense and minimize switches--when one player trades his defensive assignment to another player--which Bonnett said promotes an aggressive mentality.

During one-on-one defensive drills in the corners, defenseman Brett Wysopal was a standout. Even though he is the shortest player at 5-foot-7, Wysopal uses his lower center of gravity to his advantage. Against left wing Scott McCulloch, Wysopal was a downright pest with his stick and not afraid to check McCulloch whenever possible.

Bazin also had the forwards practice backchecking by having them sprint down the ice, take a shot, and sprint back.

Fitness in the form of cross-ice sprints and serpentine skating patterns was integrated throughout the practice to Bazin's and Bonnett's chorus of "speed, speed, speed!" and "go, go, go!"

All together the practice laid out the ingredients of success for the Tigers this season. They'll be going all-out up the ice, generating shots with their speed. With the forwards backchecking aggressively, they'll try to create turnovers in the neutral zone and keep the puck from even reaching the young defensive corps and untested goaltender. When the puck gets into the defensive zone, each player will play in-your-face defense with the hopes of never giving their opponents an open look or an easy lane to drive the net.

Of course, all of this is easier said than done.

Only 11 days left until the season-opening exhibition against Calgary and 24 until the first game against Minnesota.

Here were Monday night's lines:
White Sweatt--Vlassopoulos--Walsky
Red McCulloch--Johnson--Testwuide
Blue DeBoer--Rau--Schultz
Gold Overman--McMillin--Patrosso
Maroon Thauwald--Lampl

What are your thoughts about these combinations? Post a comment.

An interesting article on the utility of face shields, which features the contrasting stances of Boston Bruin and former CC defenseman Mark Stuart, and his father, Michael Stuart, who is USA Hockey's Chief Medical Officer. It mentions Stuart's older siblings and former Tigers, Colin and Mike Stuart.

Tiger Tracks:
--Mark Cullen assigned to Grand Rapids (AHL).
--Marty Sertich reports to Iowa Stars (AHL) training camp.


CCtig said...

Welcome back Kate! I'm fine with the combos (for now).

I just feel Vlassopoulos, Walsky, and yes even Patrosso, will have a more productive season than many fans may think.

Goodness I am getting excited for the season to begin!

Kate Crandall said...

Hey, thanks for leaving a comment!
Look for regular articles in the Gazette to start next week. Can't believe the season's here already.
Off to practice...

gmf1a said...

Been waiting for years for CC to have the defensive attitude you wrote about - word for word.

I am not convinced we have that commitment to physical team defensive .... time will tell.

Great to hear about Wysopal, the two new D-man are needed to play right away.

Probably too early to worry about line combos (or if not Thauwald and Lampl should worry a lot)

Kate Crandall said...

Definitely way too early to say what the lines will look like against Calgary, let alone Minnesota. I liked the look of Johnson, bookended by two big-bodied forwards in Testwuide and McCulloch, both of whom look much quicker than last season. It'll be neat to see how the lines change over the next few weeks.

ElGordo said...

I just hope that CC's D is a little stronger than last year. Matt will be missed this year and I hope that Richard Bachman and Drew O'Connell are able to keep as good or close to what Matt was able to do for CC last year.

Kate Crandall said...

It will be interesting to see how the goalie situation pans out. I was in the exact same situation as Drew O'Connell in college--played two years behind a great goalie--and it is a tough position to be in mentally. Even Zaba struggled with putting too much pressure on himself after Curtis McElhinney graduated. There's always an adjustment period, the question is how long will the coaches give O'Connell? Tough call.