Episode 27 · 2 years ago

Team of the Week (Wolves) | Episode 27


Working as a cohesive unit, Andrew Trimble, Tim Kunes, and Connor Bates have brought the New England Wolves program a long way over the past few years. Every season they make a step forward, both on and off the ice. From setting new high-marks for win totals, to winning an EHLP Championship and the Humanitarians of the Year Award (twice), every season brings the Wolves another step closer towards the top of the league. Tim and Connor are the guests on this week's podcast, as they discuss where the bar has been set for the upcoming 2020-21 campaign.

Welcome to the east 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 have experienced a catastrophic event. Learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. Once again, my name is Neo Raven. This is episode number twenty seven of the east show. We have got a pair of guests joining me on the podcast today, so let's start by welcoming in the EHL head coach of the New England wolves team, Tim Qun's. Welcome to the east show, Tim. Thanks Neil. Thanks for having and while this is I think the second time I've had tim on, maybe it's the third time. It's the first time, though, for Connor Bates, the EH L P head coach for the wolves. Welcome to the east show, conner. Thanks nel. So Tim, let's start things off with you. I believe your first year in the League was the two thousand and sixteen seventeen season a year after I came in. So you've had a few offseasons of this. But how do you feel about where the program stands this offseason compared to previous years? Yeah, it feels great. You know, I think since I been here we've really tried to improve every year going into the seasons and and this offseason is no different. You know, just we're our team is at now in July. You know, I think think we have a good group on paper. So obviously we have a lot of work to do when when it's show up, but you know, we're in a good spot and you know, I think just just by judging on our past seasons that gotten better on the ice during those seasons. So we look to take another step next year and obviously you can learn so much about the way your team performs, you know, on the ice. But speaking of the off the ice, that of things, being able to go through a, you know, a few different offseasons, how much do you learn during these months about, you know, the extra work that you put in during this time really just benefits you during the year? Yeah, well, you said it like you know, I think when you start coaching at this level don't realize how much recruiting is is necessary to build these teams. So you know the effort you put in the offseason is gonna you know that products will show on ice. So but and it's more than just recruiting to write. Like, you know, planning for the seasons and like after we talked to you, coach Bates and myself, we're going to have a little meeting and you know, we'll be discussing different we want to want to do on ice and how we can work together to have to successful teams. And for you, Connor, you've been an assistant with the program for a few years, but this year will be the first year that you the head coach of the EH LP team. How do you feel about your team? Yeah, I'm I'm really excited. Obviously everyone's excited to get the season started. But like, like coach team said, I think on paper the premier team will should be pretty good. So a lot of work to do, but I'm really excited and Tim you guys. You know, for those that don't know, you're one of two programs that have co owners and Co coaches, the other one being the New Jersey eighty seven's Adam hoolie and Matthew Keenan. It's you, and Andrew Trimble. You own the team, you coach the team and over the years you've kind of reshuffled the staff. You know, you were the head coach of the EHLP team one year and you was, of course, for a couple of years. Now you have connor as the EHLP head coach.

Was this kind of the way you wanted this all to shape out with? And you as the GM, you in charge of the EHL and Connor and charge of the EHLP. You know, I don't think we necessarily had those. You know that that idea when we we started three four years ago, but I think we've kind of just that's a point where we can put everyone in a spot where they can work to their strengths and that that's worked out to be the best best fit for everyone and for the program and well, I should say for Andrew is. Yes, he's the GM but he's also kind of an assistant for both of you guys. And Connor, you have a pretty good history with our league and I mentioned you've been an assistant before with the wolves. Now the EHLP head coach I'm sure you're still going to do stuff with the EHL team. Can you kindd of take us back? Was it always a goal of years to return to New Hampshire and coach in this state? Yeah, I mean I kind of knew that when I was done playing I'd always like to get into coaching and and a new Andrew Trimble a little bit. So I came over here one day and talk to these guys and they're awesome to work for it. It's been a great fit. So I couldn't have worked out any better. I'm I'm thrilled with how it worked out. I don't know if I'd say that was always the plan, but couldn't be more happy without it ended up. And Tim you started to touch on you know, every year has been a step forward. It's one thing that people have noticed for the wolves is as the seasons progress, the wolves get better and when you look back at the previous year it's a step above with where they were. Obviously the easiest way to see that is in terms of the victories on the ice, but there any other aspects of the way that the team is playing that you want to make sure that you carry those over into this upcoming season. Yeah, well, I think you know it's not just wins and losses, but you know the actual game on the ice. We raise the level every year and you know the teams we want to have or are fast and skilled. You know that can play like played modern hockey when you play for the wolves and you know we set higher expectations of the players beyond just wins and losses. and Connor speaking of the winds and loss as. I kind of had to have to go to this though, for the EHLP team, coming off two years ago a championship, last year didn't end in that championship. Will kind of touch on that later in the PODCAST, but the team was a contender once again throughout the year. Do you feel pressure taking over a team that has been right there at the top of the division each of the past two years? I don't know if I'd call it called pressure. I have high expectations for any team I've ever been on or worked with. So I think that's kind of the goal and in the past is the past. You know, every every year you start with a bunch of new guys and that's the goal for us. So I don't really feel any pressure on that but it is that the expectation absolutely and Tim you know, I don't know if I want to call this a tough for depressing question or how I want to word it exactly, but obviously the way that last season ended, especially for the teams that were still involved, was that kind of hurt. You know, obviously the season had to get canceled. We weren't able able to finish things off where we were. We were about probably two weeks away from crowning a champion. And when one guy that stuck out to what he said was bills in a bony, the head coach of the Seahawks Hockey Club, who lost to the wizards in their first round, serious and said, you know, thank all be lost if we had still been alive in the playoffs and probably would have stung that much more. Do you kind of have that same feeling? I don't want to...

...say was it easier that you guys had lost, but do you kind of have that same perspective as Bill has? Yeah, I mean, yeah, it's tough to say. You know, at the same time, you know you feel for those teams that were there, were still in at who were fighting for a championship. You know, to have it in that way. So it's a tough situation, but it's not one that, you know, was unique to just our league. So everybody that plays hockey pretty much around the world was in a similar situation. So just trying to control what we can and and prepare for this season coming up. And Connor, it kind of sounds like it was just a matter of turned the page right away for the wolves. Is that way you? Did you take a week to kind of let things set in, or how quickly did did things start to unfold and and you became the EHLP head coach after the season ended? Yeah, I think we had some discussions and about that throughout the year and that was kind of our plan. But yeah, you get a little little time away from the rink, but you always want to jump right back into it. You guys can get away for a little while, but everyone wants to get right back to it. So pretty much got right to work. So let's start talking about the playing careers now, because he's kind of has a your own unique path that ultimately then led you to Laconia. Tim, can you take us through years and as you take us through your journey, can you kind of tell the folks at home, any individuals they it was coaches or mentors that you had along the way that they maybe touched you a lesson or two that have stuck with you to your time now being an ehl head coach. Yeah, sure so. I'm I'm originally from one island New York. Grew up playing hockey there. When I was young. I was fortunate to have two good coaches who both had sons my age, so I always played on their teams. I had Russian coach named Alexey Nikahora who was, you know, unbelievable coach and definitely helped me get into the player that I would become. And I also played for Ed Gall y any well, believe you still a used to coaching in this league for the bobcats. I also played on some good teams for for Eddie. I left home to play junior hockey when I was sixteen in Massachusetts. I played two years. Then I you know, I was I was drafted by the Carolyn hurricanes my last year of junior and I went to Boston College for four years after that. At Boston College played for Jerry York, who you know, obviously famous coach. I think winning a Sault time coach in college hockey and my junior year we got to win a national championship. So that was pretty pretty special. That I'll never forget. And After College I've played played eight years of pro hockey, mostly in Europe in I think five, five different countries. So really I think, you know, when I think about my playing career in the different coaches, you know, I've had such a wide range of coaches from, you know, all different nationalities and different leagues that really, when you get into coaching, I think you kind of just take the bits and pieces from the coaches you had that you know, you thought were were positive and try to, you know, I try to incorporate those with my own personality, you know, and you know I'm not going to be Jerry York, but there's some stuff you can learn from every coach and you know, but ultimately...

...have to have to be yourself and find Your Own Way and in coaching. So definitely I think all those all those experiences playing for different coaches has has helped me here. And I have to ask one follow up before we get to connors playing career. You mentioned the national title playing at BC Freddy Myers no longer the head coach the East Coast Wizards, but he played at Boston University. And one thing about Freddy that I always noticed he's never really little when it came to recruiting. Pound of his chest over, you know, I played four hundred games in the NHL. Also. Do you ever feel like you have to bring up that you played at BC? You want to Nashville titlely, do you try and let you know if somebody asked you about you're playing career? Maybe then you bring it up. How do you how do you address that? Yeah, I don't know. I you know, it's it's not the first thing that we bring up ward when we're trying to sign a player. But you know, I I think all all my experiences that you know that we have, I think those can contribute to to what we can offer here at the wolves and mostly when when recruiting, it's a you know, we're focused on the program that myself, Andrew and and Connor of built here in Laconia and that we think it's unique and we can really help developed players and it's something that's all that they'll enjoy. So yeah, really that's that's what we focus on when we're trying to bring players to Laconia and connor for a year. Let's go back. Let's learn about your playing career. I obviously started to mention you played in this league, but a lot want to buy a former name. At that point it was the Atlantic junior hockey league. Do you ever kind of reference that when giving messages to the current wolves players? Do you mention the fact you know, I play in this league? Obviously the League has changed over the years, but I have the same experience you guys are having playing in this league. Yeah, I don't know if I necessarily reference that, but I think when when speaking the guys, I can say that when I'm telling hi about this is a good league. It's you know, gets college commitments for done it every year for sentence, been around and it's the truth right. So it makes it easy and speaking from experience, it makes it a little bit easier when you're relaying that message to these guys. And you know, we touched on this staff Andrew Tremble, Tim counes and yourself. You're technically, I guess you could say, the closest in age to the players. So do you ever feel like there are times when the players kind of maybe come to you first four things, or do you not notice that at all? Yeah, I think that happens sometimes. I think everyone's got different personalities to write. So some guys might come to me, some guys might go to Tim, some guys might go to Andrew. But obviously in the past, being the assistant, it's easy to talk to it to the assistant as well. And let's hear it now. Let's can you kind of take us through your journey through the League and then we're ultimately got to you because it's where a lot of our players and ended up at this school. Yeah, absolutely. So. I grew up right in Laconia, played youth hockey in New Hampshire. When I was in high school. I played a couple of years of high school and then I went right to juniors. While I was still in high school there was a team different program in Lakonia, so I played a few seasons there. That was the Atlantic junior hockey league, but I played for a team down south in the League and ended up going to university New England by freshman year. I had a great time there. The hockey was good. Just wasn't the best best fit school wise for me. So I ended up transferring to Johnson and Wales. Played three seasons there. Had A blast. Coach Nolac was he's a he's a great coach. He's now at you mass dartmouth, but he was an awesome guy to play for. We had some pretty good teams and then after that I you know, I kind of thought...

I was done with hockey and and I got a call to go to camp in Manchester with for the monarchs. Tried that out and unfortunately didn't make that team, but ended up in the southern pro league for a little while. And you mentioned this in there, that you started at you and and then ended up at Johnson and Wales. We've had a number of players that have had the transfer all so obviously we do our best as a lead to put players, you know, in the best fit for them. Was the transfer process easy? Was it hard? You know, when you look back on it, what do you remember? Yeah, I definitely wouldn't recommend it. It's not it's not a fun thing to be doing, but it was the right decision for me. Think when I tell guys what they're looking when they want to go to school, but they really have to take somewhere that they love the school, not just just the hockey. has to be a good fit on both fence so I can kind of speak from experience on that that that's really important. And now we'll call it more of a fun question for each of you, something that I've asked with every team of the week feature so far at this offseason. Will start with Tim obviously, whether it's through juniors or your years in college or the pro career that you had, there's a number of ranks that you stepped into. I can only imagine with the grand total is at this point. Is there one or two that that really stand out to you that you remember and you know you can't wait to get back to those rinks someday? All that. I can't wait to go back to you know. I guess it's always nice to be nice to go back to to Boston College, you know, to see see my old college team. You know I haven't given and with coaching and playing, you know I haven't made it back there during the season because we've always had our own games and practices. So yeah, that to be my answer. All right. Connor, yeah, you know, probably, and honestly, just any any rinking college there different atmosphere and such a short season when you get to college at those games are so intense. So anytime you could, you can play a college hockey game. That's that's the best. Well, I guess the best part about that question is I haven't I haven't got the same answer twice so far this offseason. So Tim back to you. One aspect that your program really prides itself on is what you guys do off the ice. And you know, if anybody ever asked, they always say that there's no program that's more tied in to their community. And then New England Wolves and obviously the Conia community. You guys do so much community service with them. They come to your games. You probably get the biggest crowds of anyone in our league. Is this something that you guys try and stay consistent with every year or, just like on the ice, do you try and raise the bar even higher on a yearly basis? Yeah, well, you know, I know that we've won like twice from the League humanitarians of the year, you know, and and we typically get over a thousand hours of community service. So you know, I'm not sure how much we can raise. Guys have like practices in the Games and school work and stuff like that. But it's for sure work consistent in our in our work in the community here. It's definitely the smallest market in our league, you know, and like you said, we have many members of the community who are or host families who come to the Games who now with, you know, some of our youth teams who've actually play for the for the wolves. So it's definitely a fun, fun thing to be a part of, you know, to be be in this area and and be involved in the community. And who is the driving force behind all these events for for the wolves? Is the Andy Timble?...

Yeah, I'd say Andrew Sets sets most of those up. You know, he's been involved in hockey this area longer than I have. Connors from here, but he was probably still playing when Andrew was was involved here. So that was something that was important to him and certainly easy for for myself and coach Bates to get behind. And you know, you can see the impact that it has not just done on members of the community but also for the players and in our programs. They you know, they might not know what to expect going into when we're doing community service or something like that, but ultimately they enjoy themselves and and yeah, it's a good experience for everyone. And Connor, I kind of mentioned this earlier. You know, being closest and aids to the players. They sometimes come to you before they maybe go to the to the CO owners and the CO coaches and Andrew and Tim. Have you ever had situations where player comes to you and says, you know, I'm tired, we just had practice, or I want to I want to work out. Do I really have to do this community service? Yeah, I think you always get a little pushback at first, but at the end of the day we the community service they do is is some pretty cool stuffing and they, I think they end up having a lot of fun when they do it right. So I know they helped out at the pond hockey and so they get some pretty cool experiences out of it and and I think they have a good time. So after the first one they usually excited to do it actually okay, and then continuing to talk about the players, obviously the our number one customers. In my opinion, this is a very unique offseason, that's for sure, and I don't if you want to call at the elephant in the room. You know this covid nineteen virus. I'm going to ask this question to you, Connor. Your program as one of the first teams to come out with a list of, you know, safety precautions that you guys are going to be taking. How important is it to you and the rest of the staff to make sure the players feel safe from the moment they arrived in Laconia this fall and then especially their parents at home? Yeah, I think that's one of the number one priorities right when, when these kids go away from home, that you want them and then their parents to know that they're safe where they're at. So I think that's that's very important to us. Obviously there were some guidelines that we came out with and I think those will continue to evolve. If we have to do more, we will, but whatever it is, we want the players feel safe and we want their parents to know that we're putting them in a position to succeed and also be the safe while they're here. And I'm not sure which one of the you guys handles the the billeting the most. Maybe it's actually Andrews, so he'd be the one to answer this question, but obviously you guys are located in in a region that, you know, knock on what, if you will, hasn't had too many cases because you're so far north in New Hampshire. Has it been a struggle to find families that want to welcome in players from all over the country in the world, or have you guys kind of had the same response that you always have had in one of the teams that has the most host families? Well, I think first we can give a shout out to carry moll as ours, our host family coordinator. Carry has two kids who play hockey and then she also takes three, three players in your home every year. So she works very hard at, you know, setting up and finding new host families. You know, given given the year that we're in, it it is a little bit tougher this year, but we still do have a great, great support of our host families and you know, we have many coming back and I know that, you know, all the players really really enjoy the families they stay out. Obviously...

...that's just a tough question because I know that there's a number of families for other teams that are just wondering how safe it is to welcome in players from you know all across the country because you just don't know, don't know what to expect at the same time. But let's wrap things up with a kind of a goals question for each of you. will start with Connor. We've touched on this a few times now. The EHLP, the head coach this upcoming year. Where's the bar set for you and E H LP title? Yeah, I think you can't set the bar lower than that, right. So they won the championship two seasons ago and and they had a pretty good chance lash year. They ran into a strong lumberjacks team. But I don't know, you don't said high goals, you got nothing to shoot for. So I think that's the goal coming into training camp and Tim for the EHL team. Yeah, you know, for me and and in our program we kind of have three goals that we want to develop players, make them better hockey players and we want to move them on to college hockey, which is the ultimate goal of this league, and then we want to win, you know. So those those three goals to develop, to move on to college and then to win some hockey teams, you know, and and so those three are kind of all on the same level for me. Definitely want to win as much as the next coach and I think we're going to have a really strong team at the HL level and where we're really looking forward to it. Maybe I could change my answer further rank to the Meryl Fay Arena. We're really looking forward to to getting going here. Well, that's awesome. The great goals for both teams and, as I mentioned throughout this podcast, the wolves are a program that does it both on and off the ice. So I want to thank you both your time. I know that you're now going to go meet with each other's to continue prepping for the for the this upcoming season. Good luck with the rest of the offseason and please stay stay safe and stay healthy. Thanks for low for having US you. Thank you now. 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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