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Episode 25 · 2 years ago

Team of the Week (Railers) | Episode 25

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

James Mello is the Head Coach of the EHL team, working underneath Mike Addesa I (General Manager), and alongside fellow coaches Brian Addesa, Sean Bertoni, and Mike Addesa III. On this week's episode of the podcast, Mello talks about the continuity of the staff, and how much everyone learned throughout their first season in the league.

Welcome to the east show with Neil Ravin. With over onezero NCAA commitments, the ehl is the proven path to college. Turn it up and learn more about the college place, but leader at the division two and three levels. Welcome to the e show, presented by the penalty box foundation. The foundation's mission centers around their daily motto we take care of our own as they help out all of those within the hockey community. We experienced the catastrophic event. Learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. Once again, my name is Neil Raven. This episode number twenty five and coming on the podcast for the first time. Let's welcome in James Mellow, the head coach of the railers junior hockey club. Welcome to the east show, James. Neil. Thanks for having me. I appreciate taking the time and then pull me into this. Is gonna be a lot of fun. I know I had you on for an interview the very old version of the podcast. We taught for like five minutes or so some point during the season, but things have been kind of revamped since then and obviously a lot has changed over the last few months as well. So the first question I wanted to ask you is, you know, looking back on where we were at this time last year to this time this year, how do you feel about the railers? I feel as though we were in a much different place today than we were a year ago. You know, last summer was a bit of a scramble and and a last ditch in a sprint to fill a roster and put a team in from the time that we got kind of the okay to join into the eastern hockey league and having now a year of, you know, playing on a consistent basis in the Ahl, having a full year's worth of a recruiting calendar schedule and time frame to kind of, you know, put all of our heads together as a staff and, you know, bring players into the mix that we liked and and really have known and gone to know over the course of the past years as a player in an individual you know, I feel really, really good about where we are as an organization. We've all learned a ton in the past year and we're still continuing to learn, obviously with with what we're dealing with now. So a lot of learning in the past year, that's for sure. And speaking of that learning, obviously it wasn't probably the record wise the year that you wanted it to be for the EHL HLP team had a little bit of a better year. But how shortly into this past season did you start taking notes for the next time that recruiting begune? Was it a month then? Was it two months in did you start saying, you know what, when we go back to recruiting, we need more of this or need to focus more on this. Yeah, I think as the season goes on, you really are able to identify strengths, weaknesses, you know, areas where you can improve. You know, we definitely got the chance pretty early on to realize what it takes to play at this level in the eastern Ucky League. You know, we were at every disadvantage having all new characters coming into this organization and having no returners to kind of fall back on and rely on, build the culture, etc. You know, it's it's I would say. I would say it didn't take very long to learn that recruiting is probably the most important piece to this whole puzzle. You know, if you get the right mentality, right group of guys. You know, we had a lot of that this year, just not enough. And let's talk about recruiting. Last year. Obviously we saw each other first met Denver showcase and in the Las Vegas showcase. You guys were pounding the pavement hard last year and then fast forward of this year. You can't do that, so let's try this. How much time are you spending on the phone right now? Yes, so, you know, fortunately for us, like the the way that we've structural organizations, we got a lot of guys that are contributing a lot of different areas. So we all kind of pull our weight and do our parts. So I mean on a weekly basis. You know, early on in this whole thing, right when the season ended...

...and we were really ramping up for, you know, the signing deadline to actually start offering contracts, like we were off, we were on the phone a lot. We're on the phone with players, were on the phone with each other, you know, staff meetings couple times a week. We were talking with our general manager and, you know, proposing players and talking about the video that we've watched and seen. You know, there's less pounding the pavement of physically getting out of the home and, you know, being in ranks, etc. But I think in the long run we probably looked at more players over the course this, you know, offseason, just because of the access to video, and I think you know a little bit of everybody out there scrambled to, you know, get contacts with coaches and to get out and get looked at because, knowing that, you know, these showcases and events that we relied on last year, like Denver in Vegas, you know, had so much uncertainty around them. I know some of them are still going to take place, but you know, it definitely was a different season recruiting this year. You know, we're extremely excited about the group of guys that we've got coming in for year two and we're in a much better place today than we were a year ago at this point going into, you know, the summer fall, getting ready for the season. You know, we got a much better handle on numbers, etc. And you started to touch on it right there. You talked about the staff a little bit and I want to focus first on the coaches, because you're one of four coaches. You're the the EHL head coach. Alongside you is Brian Odessa. At the EHLP level, you guys have Sean Brettoni and Mike Adessa the third. It seems like you have two a very full staff that all works well in sync together. Obviously you got two guys focusing on the EHL and to focusing on the EHLSP, but my takeaway and watching you guys work together, it's more like you're just one big organization. Is that a fair assumption? I mean it's an extremely fair assumption. I mean where you know, we're family run organization. I mean our general manager is my CADESSA. You mentioned my Cadessa, the third and Brian. Those are his sons, and Matt our owner. You know. So I mean we're we're very involved as a family organization. You know, we don't have separate entities with our premier in our EHL team, and it's it's funny. You actually said you get two guys, folcus on premiere to on Ahl. It's really top to bottom, like I'm looking at guys to bring in through a premiere team that we see developing to plan our EHL team one day, as, do you know, our premiere coaches etc. We're really looking at it from a full, you know, top to bottom organization with every guy that we bring in. You know, we really look for guys that we see as making the steps and continuing to climb the ladder toward playing college hockey. And you said a name there that I wanted to touch on at some point in this conversation. The last name Edessa. Obviously one of the questions I get throughout the years. How many different ODESSAS are involved with the railers. She touched on how there's there's four of them right there, but the one that's really kind of leading the charge for you that gem my cadess has been involved with hockey, in hockey for decades. Not going to have you tell every single story that he's told you, but I'm sure he's in just like a wealth of knowledge and you're probably like a sponge for everything that he has to say. Is that correct? So I knew I knew obviously a little bit about my Cadessa when I was junior's back in the former eastern junior league for a guy named Sean Trombley, who are in the monarchs program. The Boston Junior bulldogs were kind of the parallel, the team in parallel in that Atlantic junior league and coach at desks was, you know, the guy who ran that program for years and years and years and put kids to college programs and kind of competed with Shawn in terms of college placements. So I always knew of him. I didn't have, you know, intimate knowledge of him at the time. I remember playing against them in the old hockey and Boston tournament where I think we we actually beat him in the finals and he brought one of his bulldogs team. I was up there with a team from, you know, Rhode Island, and you know he really has just like you'd mentioned, like a wealth of...

...knowledge. I mean I looked up his you know, his profile and everything go to elite, elite hockey prospects and you know his first job in coaching was like back in like the late like the s. You know, like he's been in coaching for, you know, as long as he's been around. And National Championship Division One college coach. I mean a guy like me who was early on in my coaching career and young and, you know, eager to learn. I've learned more in the past year through, you know, the leading up process to last season, you know, through the conversations I had with him pre and postgame throughout the year. Obviously, you know, in the offseason now preparing for this upcoming year. I've learned more in the last year than I had probably my entire career up to this point, which I never would have guessed would have been possible, but it was and you know, I'm very thankful for that and I you know, I tell him all the time. You know, I'm very fortunate to be a part of, you know, kind of his legacy, because he's mentored a lot of not just young men through, you know, the junior process to college, but you know, a lot of young coaches in their path on to, you know, whatever they do for the future, and I'm, like I said, I'm pretty fortunate to have had, you know, this opportunity that I'm you know, I'm working to make the most of and I'm not going to have you tell every story, as I mentioned, but let's let's hear one. Let's hear one moment this past season, not sure if it was a story or a piece of advice, where he kind of pulled you aside and it really stuck with you when you kept whatever he's said with you throughout the rest of the season and still to this day. was there one key moment like that? Yeah, I mean there's been a obviously, like the whole his whole life is kind of in you know, phrases and things to take and sink on. You know he said something very early on when we were, you know, working with other coaches and other people within the League, and you know, he had said something that like when, when we all hold hands, the load gets a little bit lighter, you know, where we all, you know, are helping each other out to be successful. You know how much easier things become and it and it really is as far as our organization goes again, having everybody, you know, contributing and and and being a willing participant in the whole kind of model, which is what you want from a team in general. You know that that really stuck with me and I've used it in several scenarios since with different situations in different levels of kids and people and you know, especially even with what we're going through now dealing with covid nineteen, etcetera, it's you know, it's one of those points and times where, you know, the load gets a little lighter when we all kind of care about each other and hope out a little bit. But in terms of stories, I mean he's got a million of them. Probably the one I love the most was when he was at Calgary talking about I'm like, I'm hoping I'm not stepping out of Bouncer, but you know, talking about somebody like Johnny Goodrell, where he was bringing Johnny Good Roll into the mix and Calgary and you know, big advocate for him and you know the per office saying, you know, we don't, we don't train jockeys here in Calgary and Johnny's just a small guy. But you know, coach of death is seeing so much of value in him, whether or not that's true, and it's just kind of matriculately to that, but that's kind of his way of, you know, telling stories and everything like that. I mean it really what he says carries so much weight in so many ways and it just a lot of it all sticks with you. It really does. Well, I love that that motto in that story. And let's go back now. You started to touch on your playing days before they're in juniors, in the old Ej you played for the monarchs and then you went on to Dartmouth. What was it about Dartmouth that kind of appealed to you and and why did you choose the school? Yeah, I got real lucky. I tried out for the monarchs on an open trialut there were five other goals there and I have to make the other spot with a kid at the time, Ryan Simpson, who's headed the Providence College. The following year, you know, got a chance to play a little bit more because Ryan Simpson went to providence early the through injury. So I found myself in a better situation initially and you know, through playing with Jimmy Goddett, who's...

Bob Gott son at the monarchs that year, Bob got got to see me play a lot as undersized goalie. I really didn't have any opportunities through the season, despite having a pretty good year, and then we went to the finals and you know, I have like backtoback shutouts in the finals and then suddenly that kind of proof the people I could I could play. And you know, then I got an offer from Dartmouth and once you kind of set foot on campus at Dartmouth, it's pretty easy to understand why you want to spend time there. You know, I fell in love with the campus, I fell in love with the program, the coaches and you know, most of all, I was an opportunity to put myself in the best, you know, one of the best educational situations I could using the sport hockey. You know, Ivy Leagues was something for me that my family. That was the first in my family on the mail side to go to an Ivy League school. You know, my grandfather was a dairy farmer, so you know, I felt pretty privileged and lucky to go to a school like that and, on top of it, to play Division One college hockey. You know, I felt very lucky, very blessed and I don't like to talk about it a whole lot, but you know it was a very, very important part of my life. Well, let's talk about the two shutouts then, because obviously the goalie position is so unique. I never try and act like I know more about it than anybody else, because I really don't know much about it at all. I just know that there's a lot of pressure on that position. But for guys that maybe you bring in, whether it's ehl goalies or ehl P goalies, do you tell that story and and show them that hey, one start, two starts, can really make all the difference for you? You know, I have because, like in unless you've really played the position and you've been through it. It's definitely it's a different it's totally different feeling as when you're, you know, the guy getting the nod versus the Guy Sitting on the bench. And you know, I maybe having to play the good teammate role and worry about your development until you get that opportunity. You know, for me, I you know, Division One college didn't look like it was going to be an opportunity until, you know, I did something like that and prove myself. I mean I had very good players around me. You know, Paul Thompson went to you and AH, she's the current captain for the Hl Team Mountain Springfield. You know, Denny Carney went to Yale. Tom Pe's older Clarkson, buyed a PC. I think we had like fifteen kids that went on to NCAA programs. So I had a good team around me. But once you prove yourself and and you show that you could do it, and maybe one of those little areas of your game that people have doubts about, maybe the size. For me, I was under six foot, but you go in and you compete and can play at that level. You know, you set aside some of those doubts, you know, which is something I pass on to my goalies and wooster, I pass onto my goalies that I train out year back in Rhode Island, because I want on to have a pretty good career at Dartmouth too. So I mean, if I had missed the boat on that, it would have been a totally different trajectory for me. But goaltending is very much about capitalizing on opportunities. You only get a small window sometimes, so maybe you only have thirty minutes, but you have to go in and that thirty minutes in relief and you got to stop all twenty, you know, to get the next opportunity, and you do that enough times, then you start to become the number one guy that they rely on. And you know, my story was no different in college and I didn't play a single game freshman year. It took twelve games into my sophomore year and then I played every game my junior year and ended up splitting time into my senior year. So I mean it's it's constantly evolving and you know, you just have to really make the time you spend out their accounts. So you can't take a rep off, you can't take a shift off goal. He's definitely under a little bit of a microscope, but takes a unique position person to play the position. So there's there's usually a reason why you gravitate toward the goal. And with the full staff do you guys have with the railers? Do you kind of step up and say I'm the goalie guy also, or do you let some of the other coaches kind of tapefully in that times as well? Yeah, we have. We've had another gentleman that's helped us, Zach Leebowitz, who has worked with tough university in the past working with goaltenders, as helped with...

...other goaltenders. So we have a guy that comes in regularly, which, you know, was great for me because it takes a little bit of weight off on my shoulders where I don't have to you know, always worried about goalies because there's there's enough there to keep you busy for a while. But you know, when you're the head coach, you want also put your attention on the team aspects of the game that really need to be worked on as well. But goaltenders, obviously you haven't seen many teams that have gone far and deep into to the tournament and any level that don't have a solid goaltender. So we definitely give our guys time. There's no question. And in looking at your stats from college, I was going to ask you it was you had some pretty good numbers. was there ever a thought to continue playing, try and do some sort of minor pro career or shortly after you went right back into coaching? Was that always your plan? I guess you never really have a yet. You have an idea but never have a plan. I mean I was very fortunate. I mean my my junior year we were very good, you know. I think I finished ECCO like a three eight and EC AC play, which you know, we were very competitive that season. But after my senior year I had to hip surgeries, I had the impingement with torn Laboram and the year I was graduating was also a lockout year. So you know, I was looking at that kind of east coast level. I was going to play, you know, potentially down in Florida with the ever blades or a program like that. And then when you have a lockout situation, you know, I think at the end of the day I was offered maybe a federal league contract and I just said, graduated from Dartmouth, I guess, to hip surgeries and you know I at that point in my life I was I knew what I wanted. I wanted to get into coaching. So I was ready to I was ready to call it and move on. You know, I had done enough in my college career that I was satisfied and you know, I really don't have any regrets not not continuing and trying to play, to be honest with you. So then let's change gears a little bit here and I want to ask a question that I have asked a lot of coaches on the podcast this offseason. Obviously, whether it's playing or now coaching, you've probably stepped foot in a number of different ranks, especially here in New England. Maybe it's Thompson arena, but is there one rink that you always kind of cherish going back to the you get excited going back into Um? You know, I played my youth hockey in Chicago. I moved out here my freshman year of high school. I went to Lasal Academy and Providence and are one of our big rivals was Mount St Charles. My Freshman Year Mount St Charles ended the Twenty Six year state championship run that they were on with you know, Bill Balisle, the USA Hockey Hall of fame coach, etc. And there was something about Mount St Charles Rink, adle art arena with the chicken wire fence, the small neutral zone, like the tight weird angles and like. I used to love playing at Mount St Charles and I think I loved coaching there more because I got to coach at Lasalle following graduation and everything. But that's obviously if you've never you've never been to wound soccer riod island to see attle art arena, it's something to see just one of those good old, good old high school barns that has a ton of history, ton of tradition. They've, you know, put a bunch of guys into the NHL through that program, you know. So that's one that I always really liked and I've played, you know, Joe Lewis and all those and I still loved addle our arena. Well, what I like about that question is I've asked every coach on the podcast this offseason and I haven't had a repeat answer yet. So changing gears a little bit more. Obviously a very unique offseason one that's been spent with all of us really just quarantine for as long as we can really remember. But one difficulty for you, if you will, but also something beautiful, is you're a new dad. How is that process been? I'm sure it was challenging becoming a new dad during a time like this. I had to be right. Yeah, so, I mean, obviously me and my wife took nine months...

...to get to that point, so we were kind of seeing all this transpire and we weren't real sure what life was going to be like bringing a baby and into quarantine. You know, I've spent the last year again around my family. First, you know, family up in up in Worcester. You know, coach Odessa, and I've heard, you know, a million different things on advice and fatherhood and being a good husband and everything, and I've been so looking forward to this moment. You know, to be honest, the quarantine for us the last two months since we've had the baby. My Wife's she's got six months off for work, so we're pretty fortunate there. And then for me, since we're in the offseason recruiting and which largely has been done by phone. You know, we've been we've been locked down in our house for a couple months, for better for worse. Now we've been we've been certainly becoming more acquainted with ourselves, obviously spending a ton of quality time with our child, but going through the difficulties of, you know, not necessarily allowing you even grandparents yet and family members to hold the child and the baby and to really lend a hand and help in anyway. It's really you know, I took my my hat and have a ton of respect and love for my wife, who does a ton, because it's certainly not easy with two people raising a child, that's for sure, and you found some some civil lining in there and that maybe it is an okay time for it to happen. But that's what I was going to say is obviously having a baby is something that's, you know, a huge moment in someone's life and you just really can't share it with too much other than your wife right now. But not to get on that depressent. I'm not depressing. Yeah, and now to get after that, but actually it's it's it's awesome that it did land in the time where you can spend that time together and now, looking forward, as we start to kind of slowly work our way through the phases out of this. Back on the Honcky side of things, you guys are heading towards your second year. Obviously the goals for both teams are to advanced further than you and you did before. Is there a set wind total? What's the the main goal for year to? Let's start with the EHL to. Yeah, I mean, obviously, you know, we want to have a very different year than we had last year. You know, we have always discussed the team that we want to be in the envision for this program and now having the full year to get the guys that we believe can get us there. Like we want to put ourselves in a position, you know, to make playoffs and to put ourselves in a position to have all ice for this upcoming season. would be our goal. We don't really have a wind total that we'd like to hit. That really hasn't been discussed, but you know, I know my general managers a competitive guy. I'm an extreme competitor myself. It was a difficult year to go through having that mindset. So we're really looking forward to, you know, stepping into a year two with, you know, knowing what we know now that we didn't know last year and having a full year to prepare for you know what we're about to go through for this season. So and and whins aside, you whether you had more or less, whatever, you guys still had a strong class of NCA commitments. was, of course, at the at the end of the day, that that's why we're all here, that's why everyone's involved in the EHL. I'm sure you're proud of every single one of them and where they're heading next year, but is there one in particular and a story as to why you're extra proud of that one commit not to be honest, I'm I'm proud of all of the guys that I look at the list now and and for, you know, the gentleman that are moving onto plans to Waa College, and we've got a slew of guys that are going on to place h a division one to where, you know, they're finding a great fit academically, you know, athletically and and everything's going to be fantastic for them. But for the guys that have made into the NCAA program, you know, obviously college placements what we're what we're here for. You know, we had our kind of our horses that found homes earlier, earlier on, so to speak. You know, they got more attention and and we're able to find homes and have maybe more visits. The thing I'm really proud of is...

...we took a group of guys at the start of the year and we finished with like almost the exact same group of guys. We added a few to kind of round out the whole roster, but you know, we committed to these young men who, you know, maybe didn't find a home in another program or where that that last roster spot that maybe played a different role within our program that they wouldn't have this past year and as a result, some of these kids found great fits for them where they're still going to have to work and develop to be, you know, firm contributors at their college program. But you know, some of these kids had the chance where, you know, down the stretch and the last eight or nine games, when you know we had kind of moved some guys around to allow for these gentlemen who didn't have college opportunities yet to kind of move to the forefront, you know some of them really got noticed and they, you know, after peeling back some of the layers where we were competitive down the stretch. I think it really helped some of these young men in their case to sell themselves to some of these coaches. There's no question about it. And you know, obviously Brendan crews are really cool. Full story just simply in the fact that he came so late in the year with US goaltender. You know there's a ton of goalies out there. He's his last year of junior eligibility and you know, he played his first game with us, his second game was up at the huskies and he had like like sixty some shots and only gave up four goals, and that sparked some interest and we started kind of calling coaches and before you know it, you know, Brent had several opportunities to go and visits down the stretch and I just talked to him the other day. You know he's excited to go to Salem state in the hall and you know I love stories like that where it's like just when you think you're at the end of the rope and maybe you get traded to this team that's not going to make playoffs and only got eight or nine games left. What are you going to do? With it. You know, he decided not to feel bad for himself and you know he picked up and he went to work and, my goodness, I'm so proud of the fact that, you know, he made it to where he made it to, and that's a similar story to what you told for yourself. You know, for that position, it only takes a start or two to get some interest. Then all of a sudden it's another commitment for your team, and I was going to if I had to predict one that you'd probably bring up, I thought it was going to be that one. So I have to get myself a slight padder back, as I had a feeling that would be the kid. I'll be honestly. You know I love John Corsheen, Andrew Miller, Mat Orlando, Matt Smith, Tucker George like. They accomplished so much this year and helped us establish a first year program and really again like put us in a position where we were competitive in terms of college placements because of, you know, the accomplishments these young men were able to make. But, like I said, it was just a really, really, really cool story. I thought you branded maybe I sympathize because I'm I'm a goaltender, but you know, we're hoping we're not done with that list still and we've got some guys were continuing to work for and you know, maybe had a couple more to that. Well, that's awesome. I'll be sure to keep an eye of her. Hopefully some more commitments then and, like I mentioned, we're starting to kind of work our way through the phases. Now back out of the ice. I'm glad to hear that you're back on the ice in Rhode Island and I'm congratulations, I could say on the podcast. Now for the new baby and stay safe. Thank you. Thank you for coming on the podcast and good luck with the rest of the offseason. Now it's again. It's my pleasure. I appreciate you having the appreciate taking the time and, like we're really excited to get into the season. So, you know, best to you and yours and I hope everybody stays safe out there and we'll be back in the ring soon enough. Thanks, James. Talk to you soon. All right, take care enough. Thanks for listening to the show. Learn more at Eastern Hockey League Dot Org and follow us on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Youtube. Also be sure to subscribe and get notified when next week's PODCAST is released.

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