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Hockey Challenge 2014

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Post Season Q and A with Coach Sumner - Part 2

Here comes Part 2 for you guys. I will have Parts 3 and 4 next week.

Hunnex - An observation that will lead into a question. It's no secret that statistically your teams have struggled on the Power Play since you took over as Head Coach in 2002. The team has finished 16th, 19th, 19th, 20th and 18th in the WHL in Power Play conversion over your 5 seasons. It appeared to my amateur eyes that this year's team had a hard time sticking with the system of getting bodies in front of the net, getting a shot through to the net and then having multiple players crash the net hard for a rebound. Would you associate the struggles to the players not sticking to the system enough? Or might you look to tweak your Power Play strategy going forward?

Sumner - I looked at answering this question a number of times and nothing I wrote was satisfactory to me. Examining statistics when you are in the bottom half is of little use. I was not satisfied and it will be a priority for us next season. Special teams have evolved to be a very significant part of the game now with the renewed emphasis on restraining infractions and taking less penalties and scoring on PP chances are key to being successful in the league today.

The majority of Power Play goals are scored close to the net. It may be a screen or a tip. It may be a rebound but most goals are achieved through traffic at the net. We had a hard time doing that on a regular basis which in the end makes it easier to defend against.

We plan to make this a priority going into next season.

Hunnex - Sena Acolatse... Is he going to stay as a forward or are there plans to move him back to the blue line?

Sumner - Sena is a really special talent. He combines high end skill with high end toughness, a rare combination in a hockey player. I think he took big steps as a player when he moved up front to play. I see him as a forward that will be able to impact games consistently. This is a huge off-season for Sena.

He has a history of showing up to camp short on conditioning. That has to stop and I think it will. He has a better understanding about preparation as he has gained experience and his overall maturity level has also taken a step. Besides, it’s not fun for him to ‘waste’ the first couple months of the season getting in good shape and its certainly not beneficial for our team, on several levels.

That time at the beginning should be invested into earning prime ice-time, and I believe he realizes that now. He’s not a young kid at this level any more. Much is expected and many eyes will be on him and as a hockey player going places, that’s a good thing.

Hunnex - Colin Jacobs played 2 games with you guys back in December... so let's call those 4 playoff games his coming out party. What are your thoughts on Jacobs and how do you see him for next season?

Sumner - Colin Jacobs has incredible focus on where he is going and what it will take to get there. I was very pleased with his two games in December. He had to adjust to a new style compared to the level he had been playing and those adjustments were seamless. Those games set the table for him joining us in playoffs. He didn’t have to go through a feeling out time frame and was very comfortable from his first shift and never looked back. He has smarts, grit, and talent.

He fit in very well here and earned plenty of respect from players and coaches alike. Let’s face it, for stretches in that series he was our best forward. He never backed down, he went to the tough areas of the ice, he wasn’t the least bit intimidated, and he made as much happen offensively as any player we had.

Next year we are obviously excited about having Colin with us full-time. The only thing we will ask of him is to bring the same focus and passion to being a hockey player that we have seen so far, the rest will fall in place for him, he’s a great young player.


That is all for this week. Stay tuned next week as Coach Sumner will answer questions about next Calvin Pickard, Coaches, Captains and more.


4thebirds said...

Wow, great questions and really great, honest answers. Can't wait until next week! Thanks again!

stbird said...

Good Sena question. I was wondering myself as where many others. Glad to hear he will be staying as a forward. Off season hockey sucks, but this helps me get through it. Can't wait till round three.

Mike said...

Great job questioning the power play deficiencies, I'm glad we are going to work on that.

Stephanie Boen said...

Good stuff. Like the Sena question. Wonder who will be captain next season. I vote Prab Rai!

stbird said...

Lindsay Nielsen, if I had to guess will wear the C.

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