Arizona Rubber

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Lady Coyotes coaches committed to improvement


The Arizona Lady Coyotes 16U and 19U AA teams are working together to progress through the annual grind of a hockey season.

With the current season well underway, showing progress and improving on a daily basis is at the top of the to-do lists for Lady Coyotes coaches. While the teams are limited in players, the coaching staff is impressed with how well the girls are working together to succeed, both on the road and at home.

Tom Johnson, head coach for both the 16U and 19U teams, said that he is enjoying working with both teams this year.

“The older girls are doing a great job mentoring and pushing the younger girls,” Johnson said. “The younger girls are very respectful of the older girls.”

The 16U team took part in the AZYHL Pre-Season Seeding Jamboree held in September. Assistant coach Matt Shott, also an assistant with the 19U team, was pleased by the team’s determination.

“The coaches were impressed by the girls; they are hardworking,” Shott said. “Improving their confidence to skate with the puck is a priority.”

Johnson is also trying to improve the girls’ confidence on the ice and reiterating that making mistakes on the ice can be a positive.

“I tell them to work and get the puck back – to try new things and get creative,” Johnson said. “But if we don’t take a chance, we can’t correct it. If the effort is put in, good things will happen.”

Next up for the 16U team is the Nike Bauer Invite in Detroit from Nov. 13-15. Shott states that as long as the team plays defensively and smart, he expects the girls to exceed expectations.

“It’s a tournament to let our team have the travel experience,” Shott said. “Half of our team has played travel, so it’s important for the younger ones to go.”

Johnson also wants the team to gain travel experience, which in turn will help the squad play stronger on the road.

“We are doing the showcase to put them at a level so they can compete with girls their age, to grow their confidence and continue in their success,” explained Johnson.

The 19U team traveled to New Mexico for a round robin invitational the last weekend of September.

“They played hard and well and in good position, doing stuff that Tom has been teaching them,” Shott said. “It was a good experience and it showed us what we have at the 19U level, what they can do.”

The team played four games, including games against teams from Utah and New Mexico, who will be coming to Arizona in November for the Cranberry Cup.

Recently, a showcase in Chicago for the 19U team over Columbus Day weekend, the High Performance College Showcase, made for a recruitment event for college-bound players, as well as an educational opportunity for the entire team.

“What they get is what expectations college coaches are going to have,” Johnson said. “When you get to these showcases, it’s not about the wins and the losses, but it’s about putting yourself in the spotlight and showing what you can do – working hard, not being lazy, showcasing your skills and your competition level.”

“The tournament was definitely an eye-opener for a lot of the girls and showed the difference between youth hockey and college hockey,” said Shott. “They all got a sniff of how to get ready for college and they all learned what they need to improve on.”

Photo/Ken Chadwick

— Katy Wolpoff

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