Mission Statement: Talent wins games, but chemistry can take teams further
I want to talk a little about my recent experience at the USA Hockey National Championships where our 18U AA team made it to a hallowed place, the national championship game.
It is a place only three other teams have been in Arizona’s entire hockey history. The journey was very special but fueled by something that I have preached for years, and that’s team chemistry.
When our town was in the middle of tryouts, I see kids moving from one jersey to another and all the experts are assessing their teams’ talent and talent pool. Parents are jockeying for position to get the AAA label.
I am on the other end of the spectrum, knowing I have 90 percent of the same players back in the Mission AZ mix and having a true understanding of where they fit as a piece to a much bigger puzzle.
Each team is built for the purpose of growth, but more importantly, the essential piece of chemistry.
Talent will win you games, but chemistry takes you to a different place.
Players have to buy in to their roles and be willing to do what it takes for the player next to them. It is truly that simple, right?
I have said for years that with the push towards individual marketing, goals, and junior hockey pressure, teams are tougher and tougher to build these days. That is why this 18U team and all it accomplished this season was truly so special. Guys sacrificed for each other and the reward was well worth it.
Look at the NHL playoffs this year and the Carolina Hurricanes. Not a ton of star power but they bought in to their coach and their coach to them. It is truly a throwback of what I still think is so special about hockey. Teams still beat individual talent and it can’t be more apparent than this example on the biggest stage.
The lesson here, folks, is that the game of hockey is the ultimate team sport. If you don’t have that special sauce or ingredient of chemistry, then don’t expect to be truly successful.
Bouncing from organization to organization, chasing A’s and looking for the greener grass has not only hindered team development, but in my opinion, the true experience of the player.
Our 18U Mission team was truly a group of young men that were willing to put aside personal agendas for a common goal. Not only was the reward a memory that they will have forever, but by doing it right, every player on that roster now has the opportunity to play college or junior hockey. Proving my last point, that if you focus on team success first, the individual rewards will come.
It was truly a fairy tale year that was built on years of loyalty, consistency and belief in each other. They stayed in one place, worked through some tough times and adversity, but ended up in a place they all could only dream about.
Jeremy Goltz is the director of hockey operations for Mission Arizona.
(July 10, 2019)