First-year Bucks focusing on development, confidence
The first-year CAHA Bucks program has burst into the Arizona youth hockey scene in a big way this season.
The Bucks have two teams for the 2019-20 season – a combined 11U/12U team coached by Greg Sitrick and a 13U team coached by Daemion Glantz – and both have shown marked improvement over the course of the season.
In late December, the 11U/12U team took second at the Coyotes Cup, while the 13U team fashioned a third-place finish at the same event.
“I think we were surprised by how well we did and that we ended up in the championship game,” said Sitrick. “We were hoping just to be competitive going into the tournament. By the end of the tournament, we were battling for the gold medal and felt we had rightfully earned our shot at it. Although we left the tournament with silver medals, it fired us up for the rest of this season and reinforced a positive mindset that we can compete with anyone if we play to our full potential.”
“Our team was able to honor the game we love so much, and the kids really had fun,” added Glantz. “For our kids, it was their first tournament. We are strictly a 13U team playing up to 14U teams and the self-respect they have gained is invaluable. We were able to beat a couple teams for the first time, see what tournament play is all about and see the level of compete they must sustain in order for that success to be repeated. When we played as individuals, we did not fare well. When we played as a team, we did well. When we do that, I think we can skate with anyone.”
And while both Sitrick and Glantz said being involved with the Bucks from Day 1 has been exciting, seeing the players improve in really a short amount of time has been the biggest reward.
“Our progress is assessed not by wins and losses but our growing ability to compete game by game, regardless of the situation,” Glantz said. “We look at the player’s individual skill set and asses if they are contributing to the team as a whole as well as to a particular line, play or concept. The players measure their own progress and as concept buy-in increases, so does the fun.”
“Everything we do is focused on development,” noted Sitrick. “Progress is assessed by how much we improve game to game. As the kids get better, we become more competitive in our games, we score more goals, we allow less shots, we take less penalties, we convert more on the power play, we see the kids play with more confidence, the speed of our game increases, and so on. Because we are so tuned into our players and their abilities, we are able to assess how and when tweaks need to be made to work with our individual players and within our team chemistries.”
Looking ahead, the Bucks would like to see the program expand into four or six distinct teams at the 14U, 13U, 12U, 11U, 10U and 9U levels.
— Matt Mackinder
(Jan. 29, 2020)