February 26, 2008

My New Role Model

Posted in hockey at 8:35 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I’ve grown and changed a lot as a coach over the past 12 years. A lot of it has to do with experience and maturity. But having role models to help define your approach to the game and how to interact with the kids is also huge.

Meet my new role model: Coach Jules

November 13, 2007

Contact and Testosterone

Posted in hockey at 4:09 pm by Mike Milinkovich

So the Mooseheads had a really interesting game on Sunday night. We won 4-1 in what was by far and away the roughest game we’ve played. We even experienced our first fight (although the ref called it “roughing” so no one got suspended) and as the game went along, it got chippier and chippier. The coaches were actually pretty happy that we ran out of time and couldn’t play the last two minutes or so.

We’ve been coaching the boys to use appropriate body contact to separate the man from the puck right from the beginning of the game. This was the first time they actually listened. But it seems like the earlier in the game the contact starts, the more time there is available for bodychecking to degrade into really rough play.

The strange thing is that I grew up in Nepean and played two years of house league midget and I honestly do not remember a single fight. When I played, if you got checked hard, you checked hard back. But it didn’t degrade to the point of fights or stickwork.

Coaching Midget is definitely a different experience. Lots more testosterone to deal with.

October 14, 2007

Another Year of Hockey Begins

Posted in hockey at 9:22 pm by Mike Milinkovich

Tonight was our first game of the year. Ben is in midget this year, so the boys are bigger and faster. It’s fun hockey to both coach and watch.

I’m coaching again this year as well, along with Don Wilcox. It’s a co-coaching arrangement which is going to be a great learning opportunity. I’ve been coaching teams against Don for at least six years and have always respected him and his style of coaching.

Following the tradition of Don’s teams in the past, we will be called the Mooseheads. Apparently I get to wear a goofy moose hat at tournaments.

We won the game 5-1, which is a nice start to the year. Ben came within a whisker of scoring a goal and played a darn good game.

May 8, 2007

Thanks, Desperadoes

Posted in hockey at 6:53 am by Mike Milinkovich

Sunday evening was our year-end party and the wrap up of another season of hockey. It’s been a great year with a wonderful group of young men. It would have been nice to win the league championship, but no matter how you look at the year was a success.

For me, how I measure success is pretty simple: how many of the boys are going to play again next year? House league hockey is supposed to be fun as well as competitive. But particularly in this age group, many boys loose interest and stop playing. So the fact that everyone on the team is registered again for next year means that I’ve accomplished my real goal as a coach.

I’ve talked to Ben, and he is willing to put up with another year with his Dad as coach, so I will see you all again at the rink in September!

Tournament Champs

April 12, 2007

Sens Game From Portland

Posted in hockey at 10:28 pm by Mike Milinkovich

I’ve been traveling this week and was in Portland for the first Sens playoff game. It really sucked to be away, but I ended up getting very lucky. My colleague Anne recommended Claudia’s as a good bar to go to watch the game, and she was very right. I had a great time!

As it turned out, there was a small but feisty contingent of ex-Ottawans who now live in Portland who use Claudia’s as their Sens-watching HQ. So thanks to Tom, Jeremy, and Kelly for helping me cheer on the Sens to a kick-ass series opener.

The Sens played a very convincing game. They took aways the Penguins time and space through their trademark combination of a super-strong forecheck (Schubert!) and a steady, physical defence (Phillips, Volchenkov). I wonder why the two Penguins fans in the bar left early? 🙂

April 9, 2007

Playoff Angst

Posted in hockey at 10:29 am by Mike Milinkovich

So the Desperadoes survived the round-robin playoffs undefeated. Generally speaking that would be a cause for celebration. However, two wins and three ties in five games is not what I would call convincing.

The bad news is that the team has just not been playing all that well. The other teams in the league have stepped up their play while we’ve been coming out pretty flat. I guess the one consolation is that despite not playing our best, no one managed to beat us.

The good news is that we finished on a bit of a high note. I thought that our game on Saturday was a much-improved effort over our game on Wednesday. The team was looser, skating harder and just generally playing much better. And that was with a very juggled line-up. Not one of our regular forward lines or defensive pairing were together that game.

This weekend is the finals, and I am pretty optimistic that we have a good shot at winning it all. The best news is that we have everyone back from vacation — including Brandon, our #2 goal scorer who has missed the past three games — and all of our regular lines back together again. If we play the way we did in the Almonte tournament, we should have a great weekend.

Go Desperadoes!

March 5, 2007

What a weekend!

Posted in hockey at 2:58 am by Mike Milinkovich

Four games in two days.

The Desperadoes played in the Almonte tournament this weekend and had an outstanding outing. Our second game against Stittsville was probably our best game of the year. The team played with amazing determination. The entire coaching staff has been trying to get the team to play more physically all year, and I think for the very first time we played a game where we dominated that part of the game. This is a bit of an exaggeration, but we’re more used to winning on style and grace than hit and grind. In that game we did both and it was a beauty.

Unfortunately, in the championship game we came out a little bit flat. In my view we just weren’t skating in the first period and ended up down 1-0. In the second period we gave up a second goal, but by the end we were starting to challenge more. During the huddle between the second and third periods, Dylan Paquette said “guys, we can do this”, and we almost did. In the third period, we really carried the play to Orleans. I thought we clearly dominated, and tying the score at 2-2 with 55 seconds to go was probably one of the best moments of the season. It really sucked to lose in overtime.

Here is a datapoint: in the entire city of Orleans, there are only two house league “A” teams. Those teams are good, and I believe that we gave a team better than any in Nepean a real scare.

There was a plan behind why we booked into this tournament at this time of the year. The first reason was that Lanark county teams are generally more physical. Getting a tune-up on hard-hitting hockey is a good idea before going into the play-offs. The second reason was to work on what it takes to be a winning team. All through Saturday we coaches were working on the defensive side of the game, and with two shut-outs out of three games I think the message was getting through.

But the championship game taught the team an invaluable lesson to take into the playoffs: You cannot afford to take a period off. Let’s hope everyone remembers that over the next couple of weeks.

Sunday morning’s league game was a real shocker. Before the game the entire dressing room was whining about how tired and sore they all were from the tournament. Frankly, I was expecting the team to go out and lose. I mean, really, they had every excuse available to them if they had come out soft and slow.

Instead they kicked butt. What a great way to end the season.

February 18, 2007

That’s More Like It!

Posted in hockey at 12:40 pm by Mike Milinkovich

The Desperadoes won this morning 5-0. Actually, I think it should have been 5-1, as the other team got a goal that was called back that we all thought was in.

The boys played much better than last weekend. The real heart of our team is the defensive corp, and having them all in the game made a big difference. But in general the effort was much improved across the whole team. Much more aggressive forechecking, more contact, passing plays, going to the net hard,… It was all better.

February 11, 2007

On Losing

Posted in hockey at 10:57 pm by Mike Milinkovich

Well, the Desperadoes (Team C) finally lost their first game of the year. As a matter of fact we got beat pretty badly, 4-1.

It’s been pretty obvious for a while that this was coming. The team just has not been playing all that well for the past month. Hopefully this will be a wake up call for the boys. Having won all their games so far, complacency has set in.

Still, no reason to panic. Including tournaments we have an 18-1-3 record on the season which is a darn impressive record. We were missing three good defencemen this weekend and at least four of the boys were suffering from colds. Hopefully next weekend with a practice Saturday, game on Sunday will get us back on track.

January 13, 2007

Oh Baby!

Posted in hockey at 11:57 pm by Mike Milinkovich

The Senators on a serious roll, with today’s 8-3 win over the Habs just the latest sign that they’ve figured out how to score in bunches again. What a fun game to watch if you are a Sens fan.

The Desperados won their exhibition game this evening 5-2 despite having only 10 skaters on the bench. It was a kinda sloppy game, with the main highlight being Lorne’s hat-trick.

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