At midway point, Storm teams displaying daily progress
The holidays are past and the second half of the season has begun in earnest for the Nevada Storm program.
With 11 youth programs at the AA, AAA and high school levels, many of the Storm’s coaches have reason to be confident moving forward after successful first halves.
“The highlight of the season has been watching the growth of each individual player and watching as they have continued to learn what it means to be a team,” said 8U Mite 1 coach Brian Fox. “We ask our kids two questions in the locker room after games and practices: “Did you have fun?” and “Were we better today than we were yesterday?”
For 8U Mite 2 coach Mike Milton, his team is on the upswing.
“The highlight was that not only did Mites 2 take second place in their first tournament ever (Thanksgiving Extravaganza in Escondido, Calif.), but they also won the skills competition,” said Milton. “As the team continues to learn how to play together as a team, we hope to place well in the final two tournaments of the season, including the Cal State Games in San Diego.”
Dell Truax, who coaches the 12U A and 12U AA teams, his teams had numerous reasons to be excited in the first half.
“For our 12U A team, our top highlight for the first half of the season is the players’ improvement both individually and as a team,” Truax said. “The team has improved and is becoming more and more competitive as time goes on. For most players, it is their first experience with travel and competitive hockey and they are all moving in the right direction.
“The highlight of the first half of the season for our 12U AA team was being selected to the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament in Quebec this February. The players are working hard and improving with every ice touch. They are excited to be involved in such a great event in a true hockey community.”
Eric Lacroix coaches the Bantam AA team and has reasonable expectations.
“The first half has been good in the sense of seeing the growth in our younger, first-year players and the leadership of our older guys,” Lacroix said. “We are looking forward to (USA Hockey Youth) Nationals and will put everything into perspective at that time.”
The Las Vegas Sports Academy Storm high school team has made great strides with the skill development of the players and finished the 2016 calendar year by winning four of its last five games.
“Like a jigsaw puzzle, the team needed a few months to get all the pieces organized and working together,” said high school coach Jeff Bruckner. “The team is now at the point in the season in which the pieces are fitting together and the team puzzle is coming into full view. One of the highlights was the opportunity to play against the Nevada Jr. Wolfpack high school team, which was the first time in the history of hockey in Nevada in which two high school teams from Nevada competed against each other.”
The game was played on an outdoor rink in Mammoth Lakes.
Rick Berninger’s Squirt B team had a productive first half.
“We had a front-loaded schedule with a lot of early games,” said Berninger. “We have a young team and just learning and adapting to a full-ice game were our early challenges. We practice on ice three hours a week with two and half hours focused on skills and a half hour working on team concepts. Our primary focus for team concepts was in three main areas – forecheck, breakouts and defensive-zone coverage.”
At the Squirt A level, Bo Lackas said his team “has been a pleasure to watch.”
“The first half of our season, the highlight has been to see the boys gel together as a team,” Lackas said. “During the second half, we will continue to work on development and to keep moving forward as a team.”
— Matt Mackinder