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THE #ESHOW

Episode 26 · 2 years ago

Team of the Week (Little Flyers) | Episode 26

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Mark Catron is heading into his 3rd year serving as the Head Coach and General Manager for both Philadelphia Little Flyers teams in the EHL and EHLP. Prior to taking on the lead role, Catron was just the bench boss for the EHLP team, and has been with the organization for six total seasons. Every year brings a different and unique challenge, with this year being by far the most interesting offseason to date, in terms of recruiting.

Welcome to the e show with Neil Raven. With over onezero NCAA commitments, the ehl is the proven path to college. Turn it up and learn more about the college placement leader at the division two and three levels. Welcome to the east 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 who've experienced a catastrophic event. Learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. Once again, my name is Neil Raven. This episode Number Twenty Six and coming on the PODCAST, the revamped podcast, I should say, for the second time. Let's welcome in the head coach and DM of the Philadelphia little flyers, mark cash on. Welcome to the east show, Mark. Thanks Nail. So let's jump right into it. This year coming up is going to be your third year as the EHL head coach and GM. Of course, previous season spent as an assistant with the EHL team and leading the EHLP team, but the third year as the main guy. How do you feel about where you stand this year compared to previous seasons? You know, Neil, it's I'm sure the same as for all of our coaches. It's such different year of you know, the showcases all being canceled and and you know, the things we would normally go out and doing find players. You know, those aren't available to us. So now it's a lot of it's a lot of video watching and talking to advisors and and King leads from other coaches and things like that. So we feel pretty good considering where we're at right now for EHL and actually the PEA as well. And I don't want to poke too hard, but like, could you give us an astimate? You know you're watching a lot of video. How many hours a week are you spending on the phone or watching video? Oh, you know, probably, you know another then telling a lot, probably ten to fifteen hours, you know, but when you're watching, you know, clips of this and clips of that and on the phone and and you...

...know it's a again, it's it's a necessary evil of what we're in right now and but it will be great to get back in the ranks and see some of the NA camps that are going to be coming up in July. Is it is it easier because you get to do it from home and there's less travel involved, or is there more value that you put in actually seeing a player on the ice in person? Now I like seeing them on the ice in person and compete levels and things like that. You know, when you get clipped from people, you know it's they're never going to send you a clip of them doing something you know wrong your coise giving up back levels for things like that. You know. So you want to see them, you know, just any game situations and and things that I'm sure all the coaches it feel the same that I'd much rather sit in the rink. After all the years I was with the Indian ice and USAHL doing a lot of scouting, it's you just feel better to me to be able to see him in person. And you know, I labeled this as my one depressing question of the podcast, but I knew as soon as I had the little flyers on it have to bring this up. The way last season ended, unfortunately for you. The season gets canceled the day that you went a playoffs series and the way that you won that playoff series. As you lose game one, you come back and win game two pretty emphatically and then you fall behind a game three, three nothing just to come all the way back when the game six three and then, I'm assuming on the bus ride home that's when you found out that the season had been canceled. That correct. Yeah, absolutely. You know, we found out on a ride home. It was the highs and the lows, I guess, for the season, you know, and after such a fun win in game three on the road. You know, to find that out was disappointing, you know, for everybody, you know, for everybody in the League, I'm sure. But yeah, it was an odd way to find out while you're on the bus ride home after winning the series and having a meeting back in the lockers as soon as...

...you get back into the rink and and then going to meet in the we have a meeting with the premier team an hour later because we're about to start their playoff series on that Friday. So yeah, it was it was kind of everything kind of abruptly. Take your equipment and go. And I was going to ask that next AUS. That's that March twelve. That was the Thursday. As you mentioned the piece. He was going to start their series the next day. I think your EHL team was the day after. How quickly did you kind of have to just turn the pays and say all right, guys, we I'm just as disappointed as you are, but you kind of need to get out of town. How quickly did that? How all take place? Yeah, it was pretty quick at first, you know, like everyone we saw it was going to be that just team day break and we thought, okay, we can get into some exit interviews and and things like that. It all kind of unraveled quickly to where the guys, you know, we had guys from, you know, all over the country, you know, and Canadians, and when the rumors came around they were going to shut the borders pretty quickly we had to get those guys out and and basically do exit interviews the day of the that Friday. You know, we had to get a body up at the weekend and then, you know, you're dealing with bill houses and things like that. So it was it was a kind of a crush to get especially the Ahl you know, there their premier team. They're all local kids, so it wasn't as big a rushbook for the for the AHL team, that was it was a pretty big rush to meet with them quickly and then get him out. And for those ehl guys you know, one big thing that obviously outside of the NDSAY comments every year those kids moving on. Before we started this podcast, you mentioned how one thing kind of beneficial for you as the number of kids that you have returning. So of course the season ends typically of exit interviews, you know, after your final game, knowing it's your funal game, but now you're trying to get these kids out of town and you want to talk to all these returners. How much time did you give them to kind of cope with what was going on before you called up the potential returners and say it,...

...said, Hey, are you coming back? You know, some of them was just recently, to be honest, meal, you know, because we had to do a lot of things in the rank and then obviously rings have been just like yet all the other rings of then shut down for three months, and this even getting back into my office was kind of tricky, you know, when they were just ten workers allowed in the rink total. So it was a lot of texting, a lot of phone calls with players from last year just to kind of talk come through that first month. And you know, first obviously the priority was to get the guys into their colleges who weren't committee yet and then working on the nineteen and eighteen year olds coming back and in trying to resign them. You know, it's not even knowing, you know, the questions of are we going to have a season and those kind of things, you know. So it was it was a challenge this year for sure. And and speaking of those returners, I wanted it to bring this up somehow over the course the podcast. There's different pipelines that develop over the over the course of years. You know, with the little flyers there was a stretch of years where a number of players went off to Utica, obviously with a pair of former coaches in rocky Russo and George Lewis, now down in Texas. Has Been a number of players that have taken off to go play for the Ameral Bulls for a game here, a game there, are full season like Alex Peterson. But even before those two coaches ended up in Texas, there's kind of been this Texas to Aston Pipeline in your mind. How did that develop and how is it continued all the way through this past year? Jacob Berg, your captain? Well, it started actually with Rocky Russel, you know, and rocky did a great job of recruiting around the you know, the country not just packs up. It also like the Detroit area as well. We would get a lot of kids from and then, you know, the way you kind of keep kept going was, you know, the players would connect it to their other players, you know,...

...and that was, you know, order to their coach, who connect you to players and and once they realized, you know, you had a had a good experience here, or we're getting a lot of college looks like they always do in the Ahl, then it was a much easier sell to come play in Ehl, you know, from Texas, from Detroit, from those places, because the bottom line all these kids that they want to play college hockey. You know. So, but it really all started with ucky Russo do you have to sell the city aspect of Philadelphia and say hey, yes, it is a suburb, but we are still just under a half hour right to downtown Philly. Yeah, I mean we actually sell more of the team in the League and organization and the success betend the past with, you know, on the ice, but mostly, you know, the success of twenty kids in college. You know. So that's our biggest selling point is actually the league and getting to college and play, you know, Ncaa College Hockey. So that's probably our biggest one. And then you know it's obviously it doesn't hurt when you're when you're right outside of Philadelphia. They know there's things to do outside of the root as well. And I asked that because I know a lot of the Boston teams sell the fact that you know that they're in and around a city like that, so the kids can go catch a red sox game or or a Bruins game. Same with you, with Phillys and flyers and a whole teams are are right next to each other. They're in Philly. But back back on track to I mentioned earlier on this podcast that you be kind of began with a little fires as the EH L P head coach. We're always assisting the EHL team. The EHL teams been around almost since the the becoming of the EHL when it became a league in two thousand and thirteen. But the EHLP team is relatively new, only the past few seasons, but it's been very successful each and every year. And now over the past couple of years it seems like you're bringing a lot of players up from the EHLP team to the EHL team. So how how...

...important has adding that program under your organization been to your overall success? Well, it's been right, actually great for the local kids, to be honest, Neil. Before there weren't a lot of local players playing on our EHL team and it was a it was such a big step to try to go for one of our trip play programs or our double a programs and and try to play Ehl hockey was, you know, was a big step for them, you know with the level of competitiveness and bringing guys in from out of town and things like that. So I remember the day rocky and I talked to John Jacoba and said, listen, this would be great to have kind of a stepping stone of the local or for the local kids to get, you know, some junior experience, learned a kind of the game, the twenty minute periods, like, you know, the stuff about the game that's they're just not used to, and see if they can work their way up. And you know, the first year was a struggle because nobody knew what it was and and it was a you know, struggle at the beginning and then we kind of built that into making the playoffs and then the following year, once people saw it, we were getting a lot of a lot of local kids that wanted to come play for it. So we were the trail bigger and the last two seasons that read really been successful for us, not only in the League but also we moved up I think five, six or seven players, not in during the year but after the season, from the P to the EHL. And we did that again this year and I know I have two names in the back of my mine that I think you're going to say when I ask you this next question. But are there a couple success stories like that that have been a local kids that I needed that time to developed, who have played a year in the EH LP and then move on to Ehl? Do you want to tell us about yeah, probably the one that has done the best show of doing that as probably nate donning. You know nate started with us in the PEA and and and then one to...

...the AHL for one year and now he's a newman and he gets a ton of blame time as a freshman and and he's a talented hockey player and and he's probably, you know, our I would say, as the biggest thing that came from the P to the e right into college and he did it one year, one year, one year. You know. So and probably the other one where maybe beat Kyle Scott. You know, he was on the PEA and halfway through the season be at thretty, five goals in the pea halfway through the season and we pulled them up to the EHL and he finished the season and played the next and then went to college as a nineteenyear old and he's a love belly now. So we have something probably coming in this year that you know will be pretty good. You know, they're young kids. Are O two's that are from our P team from last year that I think will be that same route. You know, we'll do very well this year once they kind of learned it, you know, the AHL level, and and I think they'll he'll do well by the end of the year and then maybe going into next year. And those are two of the three names that I was thinking that you would bring up, which leads well into the next question. I actually there's been so many memories that I've had from playoff runs over the years or playoff games that I've I've been on the color color commentating for play by play for but I remember specifically coming down for a game that you guys had against a team that was called the Connecticut oilers. That was it's just a one year team, obviously different from the rough riders team that change names a few years ago. But you're playing the Connecticut oilers and Kyles Scott scored a goal and I think it puts you up by four or five, like the game was already over, but the bench absolutely erupted and I was kind of stunned by it because I didn't know the back story. But as you just started to stay there, Kyle Scott put up huge point totals in the EHLP, but I believe that was his first goal in the EHL and it took him a while to get to that point. So what I want to ask you is, you know, was it discouraging for...

Kyle or did you really kind of Simm down throughout the time and say hey, this is this is the jump that we were telling you about. It's really a bigger jump than players expect. Well, you know that year when we brought kyle off, that was George Lewis, was was the ehl coach that year. You know, they had a pretty strong team as well with octo back, and so they'll you know, so bringing him up and putting on the fourth line was, you know, just for him to kind of get his feet wet in that and it is such a big jump for people they don't understand until they get into it, and and not only from the speed aspect, from the strength of the players and the talent of the players. You know, they've all said the same thing. You know, that it's the first thing that kind of hits and how strong they are or how hard they compete for puks. And I think that mighty clock Kyle early on and I think it really benefited him his second year getting that, you know, two months or whatever was we had him up for the EHL, you know, because in the pe he was hey, go out and for a goal and lead it and have that guy. When he went up to the ehl He became that let me just kind of Laurna's I'm going here and get my feet where as I'm going, because you had guys that were already kind of kind of controlling the team, you know, on the ice, and I'm not sure if you remember that eruption, but like it totally caught me off guard. That's why I knew I wanted to brocket bring up that story at some point. But continuing on, you mentioned John Giacobo's name in this podcast. He's actually a former owner of the little fires is now the rink there. Ice Works owns the team. But there's been one other name who's been a constant in the organization throughout, Anthony Larusso obviously nicknamed alow. A lot of people are on the League of heard it. I've mentioned his name on this podcast before. I don't even know what his official title is, but can you describe what what he does to help view and how you know how invaluable his work is, you know, to your overall success? Yeah,...

ALO is is tremendous for us. He's he's our team president, and even before that he was involved with so much. Like if you needed something, even back when John G owned it, you know, we needed something in the rink, we went right the ALO and and step on and they would get it taking care of. But now his you know he is. You know, you say he's your right hand man and that's what he is for me. You know, he takes care of everything. As far as the paperwork for everything, the ordering of everything, the bus is a hotels, everything like that that at every coach's listening understands exactly. You need one of those guys if they're not doing to themselves, and that's a load, does that for us. But you also, you know, takes care of the questionnaires and the website and the social media and things like that, and the biggest six clever meet and and you know, for those who don't know, you coach both teams. You know you have an assistant, but you're really the head coach of both the H on ehlp teams, and Alo, I know he had to hop on the bench for an EHLP showcase game at one point last year because your assistant was sick. In but in being the head coach for both teams, how how early in the summer? Obviously this year is probably a little bit different, but how early in the summer do you sit down with a and, because he does the scheduling, the need to discuss, you know, here the weekends, when I want you to try and book this and book that so that you can be at every single game possible. Yeah, we actually had been doing that. It's almost a nonstop thing. With with Alo and I that, you know, between getting contracts up of players, which he also does that as well, and you know, we have our budget, things like that he takes care of. So we're constantly doing that stuff deal and and I know the next thing coming up, the next big thing coming up, is a scheduling meeting and and and we have to take that in consideration that we can try to you know,...

...backtoback game so I could be on the bench for both and things like that, but it is definitely a challenge, you know. And coming up this year also, something that's going to be new and unique for you guys is you're the only philly team remaining the junior flyers and revolution eats selling and relocating. Obviously it puts you on the bus, you know, more often than you were before, but do you take any any positives out of there's nobody else competing around you in the League, and do you sell that now? I mean, I think it was it was sad for us to have those teams pulled out because again, it was great rivalries. You know, they were great coaches, you know, friends of mine with rugs and and and Jerry, and it was great completely drive to the Games and you know, it didn't take like it does like for most times, when you get on the bus and it's you know, nine hours later you're getting back or whatever it is. But but now, I mean as far as recruiting goes, you know we've had some of those players contact me who did not want to leave town or move to another city, more so for the Ahl, but or not the PA. You know, we haven't heard a lot problem. Maybe we will come August when, you knowbody kind of gets back into it, things like that. But but I'm sad to see them both go because I like it. First of all, there they were pretty coaches and good friends of mine and one cause in those still, whether you know they're in the league or not, they're most of the showcases obviously take place up in New England, the Boston area, where more of the division three schools are. And you guys spend the decent amount of time on the bus. Do you think that helps bring your team's Ehl and EHLP, closer together as a unit? Yeah, I think the Bush strips are a lot of fun for the kids. You know they're they have their rituals they do on the bus and some of them are crazy, but but for the most part,...

...you know, it's a great bonding thing for them and and you know, yeah, we spend a lot of time going north, and for good reason, you know. The colleges are there and that's why they're in this league is they wanted to college and play hockey and and so it's a it's a thing that we know we have to do. But this year, you know, have a few more this year for sure. Are, you know, the team New Jersey and not too far way. Eighty seven's are too far away, you know, and a lot of teams are kind of up and back with the connecticuts and apple cores. So it's not terrible, you know, it's just, you know, those drive ball games that you play thirty in the morning. We're great and we touched on this offseason being, you know, as unique as ever and obviously for yourself and a lot of coaches in the league, they do more than just coach the teams you have. You have hockey schools that you run throughout the summer. So I don't want to press too hard here all again, but you know, how is the offseason effect of the players at hockey schools, for you. Yeah, it's been really affected in different you know again, I mean nine or ten different stakes, and each of them have their own rules of opening and levels and phases and things like that. So, you know, for instance, I'll be in Indiana next week, which is wide open, and then the week after that is Tellinois, has been canceled, and the week after that Nationale just was canceled, you know, because of, you know, the state not opening arena or Nash Thal's cases spiking coronavirus. So it's been probably the hardest summer in thirty one years I've been running this to kind of figure out what's going to happen next and you know, you start to mention they are the different states that you you cross into. So let's put more of a positive spin on it. I've asked this question to a few different coaches over the course of the summer during these team of the week features. Obviously you're going across the country and it's plenty of ranks you go into when you're in...

...the League as well. Is there a rink or two that you get excited about returning to a favorite rank from our catcher on, you know, last shows I was really impressed with where the spartans play. Last year first time we've been there, when we did the showcase there, and I thought that was a great rink. But, you know, no one of these ranks for years now when you're you can get a kind of a mental picture of the set up of the rink and behind the bench and things like that, which always, I think, for me personally, helps me kind of get myself ready for a game and things. But but now, I mean I obviously love my own rank here because, you know, we have a grace facility here in Philadelphia. But there are a lot of great rinks in our league. But as far as I do any camps around, I you know I love going to Nashville. It's the predators practice rink and the city itself is just an awesome place to be for a week. So that's one I probably afforded to the most and now will skip into summer. But well, you get to go back there again next summer, hopefully. The best part about the question to sorry are you can say no. I we we do clinics during the year during like our break, for for for Christmas soul. I'll be back incember. So it's our you go the best part about that question is I've got a different answer each and every time, and that's the first time I had heard this spartans rank. I'm sure for you, though, one part that helped was you went up there and you beat the avalanche and the wizards in that showcase, so two teams that you had faced in the frozen finals the year before. But now, looking ahead, as we get prepared for the two thousand, two thousand and twenty one season, which right now all in the caastions are, we're planning on starting on time. But each year with the little flyers, do well outside of obviously winning hockey games, is they put players in school. Every year it seems like there's at least six commiss this past year seven. And the one thing that stands...

...out about the little flyers commitments or the variety of different schools that the players advance on too. Do you take pride in the fact that you kids come in and they want to go all over the place and you help find the right fit for them? Yeah, that's one of the things I think, and I'm sure all the coaches in the same way. As you know, we want to get them to a school where they'll get the best education of is they want to do in life and then, you know, the bonus of that is they get to play college hockey. You know. So when they come in and in the beginning in our training camp, they fill out papers formed me about what are you they want to do? What are the colleges that have that? If you know, I have them do some homework on it. So that gives us kind of some somewhere to start looking for them or connecting to those coaches. But it has been great, you know, to especially with the showcases. I think the Hil does such a great job of these showcases, of getting the colleges they're so it makes it easier on us to coaches, to you know, put the kids in front of those guys and then they'll contact you or they you know, right now, the lot of a kind of take the right to the kids. You know, the kids will come in and tell me, this coach got a hold of that coach kind of home, which is awesome. I mean that's just it is great. Yeah, that's probably our one of our selling points. As they you know, listener, our twenty year olds fool to college and they play hockey. You know, and and a great thing about this week, Mell, honestly, is that the kids that come out of it, they seem to be doing a great job as freshman is impact players. You know, not just from our team but from from all the teams in Ehl. You look in some of them how they're doing in there when they're d three colleges, and you know they're doing getting plenty of ice time, you know, and that just says a lot about the league, honestly, and that's probably the unwritten gold is to keep putting kids in the college and stuff coming year, obviously, with a number of returners coming back as well, I would expect that. Be Shocked. Otherwise, if that could in number, isn't that, you know, eight, nine or ten once again? But then in two thousand and twousand and twenty one goals in terms of winning...

...hockey games, is there's still a chip on your shoulder or at all, for the frozen finals losses or for not being able to finish this past year? How quickly into this upcoming season are you going to bring up those moments to this year's team and say hey, let's finish it for those guys. Yeah, you know, it's not something we kind of dwell on much, you know, because every year, you know, we all have different teams, you know, and it's something that I think more of the coaches keeping their mind of how to prepare them for those. You know, the frozen four is a lot different in and you know, having done that for the first two years, the first two years, you know, and it's the whole different experience of the four games and four days and being on the road for five days, like it's a it's a different thing. So I think as a coach that's more my goal is kind of prepared them more for that if we get to that point. You know, it's hard to get to that point. You know, there's some good teams. Last year we had some really strong teams in the south and and it was going to be a challenge for us to get to that again. But I know the first two years when we were there, it was a mentally and physically draining like it was a tough weekend, you know, and the team that comes out of that honestly deserves it because, you know you got to fight your way through that and so you don't do all year, you know, and you do it right there in that weekend and it's you know, it's a high pressure but it is very physically and mentally tiring from the team. So, you know, I think more so the dwell on, Hey, we got to get this back and we got to do that. I think it's more of let's what do we have to do to get back there and then prepare for that. And, speaking of those finals, for this last question, I gave you kind of a heads up a day before. I've have had to do that for for everyone just to make sure I don't totally catch you guys off guard. But let me let me frame it for you. Say where we're at. The two thousand and twenty one now frozen finals. You can...

...use any player you want, and I asked you to go back to the years that you were in assistant in the EHL. There's been a lot of good little flyers teams. So if you could put out anybody on the ice to start, we'll call it an overtime game in Providence. Let's let's have three forwards to d a goalie in little flyers history. Yeah, it's funny, be Ab, when you gave me the heads up yesterday, you know, I immediately text rocky and George Down Amarillo and Halo, and there must have been a hundred tech between the three of them, four of us going over. I'm like, you know, because I said great, just what we went do is Ellie, they guys. But you know, so we we came up with a list collectively and and you know there's a couple guys that were before I was here. So I had to tell rocky he can't use those names. So we'll start with our forwards and we'll go with Austin Kelly, if you remember Austin, Yep, and you want to national? Yeah, want a national. Yeahpionship at the division three level. So yeah, yeah, we went with Alex Peterson, who now, you know, went from us to and you mentioned earlier, to Amrillo. Now it plays at Holy Cross. Ye, but the one player from that came right from our league, a local kid here in Philadelphia. And then we have to go with Alex occerback, you know. You know, yeah, like ninety points and ours the ninety nine points that he missed six weeks that season for a broken corbone. So but then, you know, we have to have our honorable mentions and you know, Austin Master and might Gim Papa, both, you know, play for us two years ago, you know for trifort players for us and doing you know, Austin obviously had a great year at Stevenson. So I think you forward unit. That is a hood shit forward unit right there. Yeah, it was. We debated out a lot of...

...names, but all right, so it defense. We went Nick Miguel Bz okay, you remember him. Yeah, back he was a strong defenseman for us who at the time, I think, broke the scoring record for Defenseman at forty eight point or forty nine point two. And then we couldn't leave Viet Morose off. You know, we get eight points, I think two years ago. And yes, that might be a tough record to beat for a defenseman. Yeah, mcguil Ds with the defension of the year the year. He was in the EHL now at curry now. And obviously Morose W was was a top candidate the year. I think it was nick's Crolis that got the award. But I will say this about Zeki before we get to the gold. The goalie is obviously with these team of the week features, I've been reaching out two players for testimonials from their time with the little fires and the fastest response of any of the players was morose. I think by that time I hit send, if I counted to ten, I already had a response back. Yes, I want to give you a quote. Yes, give me, give me a give me a couple of minutes. He was like lightning quick. You're just luck he was texting you, because they'll talk your ear off. So so let's hear you having goal now and are in our goal. We had a tough choice herey was. We went with Brendon Brawley, you know, over over Sam James. It was a tough one and Katie, both of them actually what goaltend of the year awards came downs trinity now probably at Plus State, and I'll have to say this. I'm not to say this because you're on the podcast. Of all the LINEUPS, I've heard that maybe number one. It's definitely top three, but there's been so many just excellent little flyers teams over the years. Obviously everyone knows about the regular season championships and and then multiple appearances now to the frozen final us and you've been in the finals in each of the two years that we've had them and you are a step away. Obviously, this past year will...

...never will never know how that series would have gone with the revolution. What was kind of, I guess, upsetting of for me, but I'm sure even more for you, is the fact that it was actually supposed to be both the EHL and EHLP teams facing off against each other to make it the providence. So unfortunately, yeah, you weren't able to have either of those series. Obviously, things have kind of just progressed here faster than anyone would have expected and we hope that you're staying safe right now. Obviously you get to go out to Indiana, you were saying, but you don't get to go to Nashville. Hopefully you get to back get back on the ice with a few more of these schools soon, but keep up with the recruiting mark. I'm glad we got to have you on the podcast and enjoy the rest of the offseason, if you can. Thank Neil. Thanks for listening to the e 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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