New Knights coach Bowman brings winning attitude to club
When the Phoenix Knights hired Mike Bowman to be the program’s new head coach at the start of this offseason, excitement elevated in town for the Western States Hockey League (WSHL) club.
Now with tryouts upcoming, Bowman will be looking for a well-rounded roster to compete with the rest of the WSHL talent pool during the 2016-17 season.
For Bowman, he harps on the discipline side of the game.
“I believe strongly in development at all levels of the game,” said Bowman. “I am a teacher and communication is key to learning. We are continually working to improve weaknesses, as well as working towards players learning the way to play the game at the higher levels. While players cannot be afraid to make mistakes out on the ice, they must be dedicated to minimizing and correcting their errors. The game is played at a fast pace and mistakes are going to happen. The mental mistakes must be kept to a minimum and typically, that comes from proper preparation.
“By becoming better, more mature young men, the players will become better at their craft on the ice as well.”
Bowman has been a coach for 18 years and most recently, spent two seasons as the associate coach and assistant GM with the WSHL’s Casper Coyotes and Arizona Hawks. He was Penn State University’s ACHA Division III coach from 2003-09 and in 2008, was named College Hockey East Coach of the Year.
“I’ve learned the rewards that come with patience with players and development,” said Bowman. “I’ve learned that all players are at least a little different, and one approach doesn’t necessarily work as efficiently for some players as it does for others. I’ve also learned that players have other things going on in their lives that affect their play. As much as you’d like for everything to go away when you walk through the doors to the ice rink, the reality is that it doesn’t. Figuring out how to get the most out of each individual, teaching them how to work effectively with their teammates, and pushing them beyond their own self-created limits are all things that makes players successful.”
Tryouts for next season run Sept. 9-11 at AZ Ice Gilbert and the club will have a conditioning camp Aug. 12-14 in Gilbert as well. A prospects camp in Princeton, Minn., is also slated for July 29-30.
“We are welcoming all types of players at our camps,” Bowman said. “Will over skill is a philosophy I believe strongly in – a player doesn’t have to be the best skilled guy to be able to play at the higher levels. He must be willing to work to improve those skills. Players have to understand the concepts of earning ice time, and making the most of opportunities. They have to identify and be dedicated to pursuing both short- and long-term goals. I want players who will invest as much into the program as the coaches and organization will in them.”
Moving forward, Bowman said he is overjoyed to join a market that is “hungry for the excitement and growth of such a fast-paced sport” and “the opportunity to participate in a winter sport in such an attractive weather venue makes it all the more enjoyable.”
“My short-term expectations for the team next season are to quickly break through the rebuilding phase that the program is in,” noted Bowman. “We will hit the ground running and continue to build throughout the season. Long-term, I expect to see players begin to appear on the radars of higher-level junior teams and college programs. The team will undoubtedly get better as the season rolls along and by the time the Las Vegas showcase rolls around in December, players will have a complete understanding of what’s expected of them on and off the ice, and they will know what makes them successful.
“We will be a team that will be extremely tough to play against once we hit our stride.”
– Matt Mackinder