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HockeyEast33
03-06-2013, 07:57 AM
I just said this on the UNH thread...I think that the role of a solid Defensive D-man has been overlooked by to many Women's coaches. They seem to recruit D-man that can put up points more than stop the other teams first line. That is why we have players with big points. Also, the top players by and large go to a small percentage of schools (i.e. MN, WI, Cornell, and the school that has the next Olympic coach)

I totally agree with this. I am constantly shocked when watching D1 games by the poor backward skating techniques of many of the defensemen. I have never seen so much defense being played by defensemen who deliberately turn to skate forwards with onrushing forwards rather than squaring up. Inevitably, these kids get beat regularly to the backside as they turn and in goes the forward on an odd man rush. For me, if you can't skate backwards as well and as agilely as most forwards, you have no business playing defense. But the defense selections to the USA Hockey National Teams are ALL based on how much offense you generate and so are all star teams around the country as a result.

Coaches seem to place a premium on size, followed by offense, followed by the ability to stop people defensively. I actually think that many, if not most, of the best defensive defensemen in the country end up playing D3 hockey because they can't get a shot at D1 because they don't put up stats. That's a poor commentary on the coaching corps in women's hockey.

OnMAA
03-06-2013, 08:22 AM
True sort of - most girls players (at least in NE) repeat a school year and are getting to college when they are 19. A few have even then done a post-grad year in JWHL after that - there is at least one 20 year old freshman that I can think of.

Three points:
1 - Most from Ontario enter college at 18, some at 17. There are some that do a PG year, but that is a minority.
2 - On the opposite side of the spectrum, recruits from Quebec are on average 1.5 years older, as they do 2 years after grade 11, and their age cutoff is at the start of the school year, rather than calendar year.
3 - There is an special "Age Exemption" rule for Men's Hockey, on when they can start and how old they can be. That rule is driven by the fact that the NCAA schools are competing with the Canadian Junior A leagues for the talent pool. That age exemption rule does not exist on the female side, or other sports in general for that matter. This limits the amount of time you can delay the start of your college career, before you start losing years of eligibility.

OnMAA
03-06-2013, 08:24 AM
IMO, this is the key point. Look at the top scorers in men's hockey. Nobody has yet reached 50 points. On the women's side, there are a number of players who have considerably more. In men's hockey, there are a good number of players that have reached the 40-point plateau, and even more that are in the 30-40 range. For women, the very top scorers produce even more, but it tails off more rapidly; the plateaus are narrower. If you're a team that has one, two, or in rare cases even more of these top scorers, then you have people that can are going to get into the scoring column every weekend, and over the course of the season, that will make the difference between winning and losing a number of times. If you are Union, you're left to try to get a couple of goals off of screens, deflections, or scrums and hope that is enough to win games.

The landscape is improving. Even the worst teams have more talent. Their third-line players can hold their own on the ice against a good first line for a time. Fifteen years ago, that resulted in a goal almost right away.

In men's hockey, lower ranked teams have players who weren't heavily recruited but wind up in the Hobey Baker conversation. In women's hockey, that usually only happens with goalies. Once in a while a forward like Melissa Boal or Felicia Nelson will wind up as a top 10 finalist for the Kaz, but because of her impact, she improves her team to the extent that they finish in the upper division of the league. St. Cloud State finished 3rd in the WCHA the year that Nelson, Caitlyn Hogan, Holly Roberts, and Meghan Pezon were seniors; the next year, they were all gone, and SCSU was dreadful.

Programs like Union wind up with the records that they do because there aren't enough offensive players to go around, and the majority of the most gifted wind up on a small number of teams. In theory, that happens in men's hockey as well, but there is less separation on the men's side between the blue-chip recruits and the next tier, and each tier contains more athletes.

This is a key observation. While the dept of the talent pool in women's hockey at the college has increased tremendously over the last 10 years, there is still a much bigger gap between top and bottom in the women's game, compared to the men's game. This is partly driven by the fact that virtually ALL the top women end up playing varisty hockey, where as most of the top tier talent on the men's side plays in the Junior leagues in Canada. Having said that, the biggest factor remains to be the amount of players in the talent pool. The ratio is still about 1/5 or 20%. (Used to be less than 10% years ago)

IIHF numbers:
==========
Canada.....Minor Hockey 455,806 - Females 86,675 (Roughly 19%)
USA.........Minor Hockey 305,453 - Females 66,692 (Roughly 21%)

YabaDabaDoo
03-06-2013, 09:43 AM
I totally agree with this. I am constantly shocked when watching D1 games by the poor backward skating techniques of many of the defensemen. I have never seen so much defense being played by defensemen who deliberately turn to skate forwards with onrushing forwards rather than squaring up. Inevitably, these kids get beat regularly to the backside as they turn and in goes the forward on an odd man rush. For me, if you can't skate backwards as well and as agilely as most forwards, you have no business playing defense. But the defense selections to the USA Hockey National Teams are ALL based on how much offense you generate and so are all star teams around the country as a result.

Coaches seem to place a premium on size, followed by offense, followed by the ability to stop people defensively. I actually think that many, if not most, of the best defensive defensemen in the country end up playing D3 hockey because they can't get a shot at D1 because they don't put up stats. That's a poor commentary on the coaching corps in women's hockey.

When looking at the state of women’s hockey and to your point Union in particular and to your point regarding D, It seems to me that she “CAB” has tried to start from the net out, Union’s goaltending for the past 3 to 4 years has been superb! I believe that both last years and the present could have gone anywhere.
No one is talking about the man behind the curtain, that being USA Hockey Player Development and the “AT LARGE” selection process. I believe that every D1 & D3 coach gets the player development selection list and uses it as the starting point for their recruiting so by association parents and players place a great deal importance on make the list. Unbeknown to many that USA Hockey is really only interested in “Maybe” 13 to 15 players out of the 60 to 80 headed to the beloved camp, not that the other players aren’t good but they are needed to create the competitive environment to see how the anointed do.
Two years ago USA Hockey created the “Active Player Pool” that was supposed to be updated monthly and never was they should have said annually because that was the case. USA Hockey created the “Warren Strelow Program” Maybe in the beginning “the first three years” it was something but the last three were a joke and for a program that touts the selection of the nations be goalies, the Olympians/top National team players were given a pass? And there has NEVER been transparency when it comes to any of its selection processes.
Back to the point, schools like Union also are hamstrung in another way that other schools with scholarships aren’t that being the carrot and stick.
The NCAA does not make it very easy for a player of a team who is good but not playing to look elsewhere in that they “the player” must sign their death warrant by going to the coach and ask for a release before they can start conversation.
So there is a lot of areas for improvement, maybe CAB & Co. should try to get the U18 National team gig? Worked for BC

Call It
03-06-2013, 10:33 AM
[QUOTE=OnMAA;5657756]This is a key observation. While the dept of the talent pool in women's hockey at the college has increased tremendously over the last 10 years, there is still a much bigger gap between top and bottom in the women's game, compared to the men's game. This is partly driven by the fact that virtually ALL the top women end up playing varisty hockey, where as most of the top tier talent on the men's side plays in the Junior leagues in Canada. QUOTE]

This is an excellent point. All of the top girls from the World play NCAA. The Top Talent on the Men's side play WHL, OHL, QMJHL, AHL or some even go to the NHL at 18 or 19 thus allowing for a much more even playing field in the NCAA. If all of the top 18-23 year old men played NCAA, I imagine it would look the Women's side with the top being excellent and the bottom not so much.

Hux
03-06-2013, 10:43 AM
So there is a lot of areas for improvement, maybe CAB & Co. should try to get the U18 National team gig? Worked for BC

Still not going to do any good. Where do parents want their kids to go? 1) Harvard, for the name and the fact the team is consistently in the top 10 2) Top 10 scholarship schools for the free ride 3) Dartmouth, Princeton or a D1 school offering cash.

If any of the top 10 scholarship schools decided to do away with athletic scholarships on November 1 they would have seen their commits bolt and within three seasons would fall out of the top 20.

Hockeydad4two
03-06-2013, 03:20 PM
Still not going to do any good. Where do parents want their kids to go? 1) Harvard, for the name and the fact the team is consistently in the top 10 2) Top 10 scholarship schools for the free ride 3) Dartmouth, Princeton or a D1 school offering cash.

If any of the top 10 scholarship schools decided to do away with athletic scholarships on November 1 they would have seen their commits bolt and within three seasons would fall out of the top 20.

I have to agree here. What parent, by the time their daughter is 13,14... doesn't look at the cost of college and think that hockey may be a route to a free education.

Flarrow
03-06-2013, 05:34 PM
Two points I can agree with: CallIt and Hockeyeast33 have it right on the importance of Defense, and the lack of its dynamic presence on a lot of teams; and I think Yabadabadoo nails it about the distortion in women’s hockey introduced by the misguided development programs of USAHockey. These are ‘big issue’ concerns, but when I look at Assano and Union, I think she has consistently failed to coach her defense, and I think that she thinks she can only recruit non-National players, either from the US or and Canada. Maybe she's right--but I've seen some very good talent wasted on her teams.
Over the years I’ve watched game after game where the defense she puts on the ice cannot clear the puck from the defensive zone. They might get possession, but all too often the d givesit right back. The opponents often get at least three 'pulses' of offensive play before the game changes, and that change is not that Union takes the puck on the offense, but rather that a goal is scored, often on the opponent’s second or third effort. Getting the puck out of the zone, hitting the lead skater on a breakout, D following to the net: fundamental skills that Assano does not know how to develop, even when she has players who come to the team with those skills. And re: goalies—I believe Day was committed before Assano arrived. And even then Assano didn’t show any skill with the defense in front of Day.
I won’t blame USAHockey alone. Any parent of a girl at 13 who starts thinking ‘my kid’s gonna go to school for free’ is going to fall into that USAHockey trap. That’s a course for five years of hellish pressure on the kid. There is no ‘pro ticket’ to which girls can aspire; a National team slot or a scholarship may be the highest recognition they’ll get, and both of them are tightly managed, athletic and political selections. (How many college scholarships go to girls because USAHockey wants them to be available? And/or because the coaches want to be on the Team’s good side, for coaching slots or for providing players, both team and practice bodies? Again, see Yabadabadoo)
So why do they play? Because it’s a beautiful game and they are skilled at it. What happens when a coach thinks (s)he wins or loses the games, not the players on the ice? You get a team with diminishing skill, effort, and heart. If Assano goes now or in another year, the next coach has to address that condition at Union.

Skate79
03-06-2013, 09:08 PM
I am constantly shocked when watching D1 games by the poor backward skating techniques of many of the defensemen. I have never seen so much defense being played by defensemen who deliberately turn to skate forwards with onrushing forwards rather than squaring up. Inevitably, these kids get beat regularly to the backside as they turn and in goes the forward on an odd man rush. For me, if you can't skate backwards as well and as agilely as most forwards, you have no business playing defense. But the defense selections to the USA Hockey National Teams are ALL based on how much offense you generate and so are all star teams around the country as a result.

Harvard's top three D (Edney, Picard and Romatoski) are all offensive minded and as you say, take an angle rather than squaring up to the onrushing forward. There are times they skate backwards but it often is only for a couple of strides before turning sideways. I don't see this changing any time soon.

Regarding Asano. She was a defenseman at Harvard and very good at headmanning the puck. Of course when she played, skating wasn't anything close to what it is today so it made it easier to make the breakout pass. Perhaps her teaching skills aren't what they should be. Julie Chu is on her staff so having a former and current Olympian should help in recruiting, one would think. But if Asano-Barcomb's system doesn't play to the strengths of her recruits, well, then you have the performances that Union has put forth the past few years. The question may be, can another coach do any better? And if so, who is that coach? Might this be a problem with admissions and not being able to get the recruits that Asano wants to compete at the D-1 level?

Call It
03-06-2013, 09:20 PM
I have to agree here. What parent, by the time their daughter is 13,14... doesn't look at the cost of college and think that hockey may be a route to a free education.

Even the bender's parents do. Seriously, their Daughter can't shot the puck from the blue line to the goal in the air and they are thinking D1. Sorry but true

hockeydad09
03-15-2013, 03:48 PM
Now that the Uconn coach is history, perhaps the Union AD will wise up and follow in their footsteps...


Thanks for the comments.
Heard from a lot of voices I’ve come to ‘respect’ here, for the most part, for what that’s worth.

I tried to get a Union thread going this year, but backed off when it was pointed out to me that rfd8585 (I assume that’s Ryan Fay of UnionHockeyNews) had ‘already started one’. That thread hasn’t lived up to this site’s honorable discussion traditions; it’s been mostly college PR.

This has been a hard season to watch, again. CAB just can’t seem to get a team to play together. Some good individual players, but the team’s back seems to be broken.

In Fay’s blog wrap-up of senior day there were some telling quotes: “ Rambo said…'One of the most memorable moments of her Union career came early on. In my freshman year, I took out my assistant coach in the first practice. That was pretty funny,'she recalled." That’s a career memory for a four year player? Fay continued:“There's still a ways to go -- notably in league play, where zero of the team's seven wins have come. ‘We're more successful outside of our league, which makes me wonder what we need to do in the league,’ Barcomb said. ‘At the end of the season, you always re-evaluate and try to figure out what will make you better.’
Rambo already has the answer. ‘We need to have more good recruiting classes. We could use some good goal scorers and playmakers,’ she said, likely aware of the team ranking last in Division I at 1.24 goals a game.”

So the players know the coach is weak at recruiting, and the coach, after years playing and coaching in the league says ‘We're more successful outside of our league, which makes me wonder what we need to do in the league,’ … ‘At the end of the season, you always re-evaluate and try to figure out what will make you better.’

That ‘close game at Harvard? “Kurio, who is tied for 10th place on the program's career goals list with 13, said one of her best memories came much more recently. Last Saturday, she scored with 16 seconds left in the game to force an eventual 1-1 tie at Yale. "I was pretty shocked that it went in, actually," she said. "I was just trying to get to the net and luckily it went in.” [Fay, UHblog]. And the Dec/Jan season change of direction? How much of that had to do with Assistant Coach Chu’s playing schedule this year?

Can CAB carry the team on her own? Other than having played with her, CAB’s requirement to coach for her is apparently only to have played under her. Is that too closed of a loop? And is that another breakdown of Union’s recruiting efforts for the team?

I remain firm in my belief that the best thing for Union Women’s Hockey would be to allow CAB spend some time far away from D1 hockey; perhaps she needs to continue to wonder what it takes to coach in the league. If the AD keeps her, I’m inclined to listen to the voices that say the women’s team at Union is just a Title 9 beard for the men’s team. I can’t imagine that helps recruiting.
I’m really not interested in linking this thread to Colgate. And my original questions remain.