Episode 33 · 2 years ago

Team of the Week (RoughRiders) | Episode 33


Eric Lind and Steven Brown have been coaching together longer than any other duo in the league. When the EHL begins its 8th season this fall, Lind and Brown will be the only coaches to have been at the helm of a single organization for all eight years. As time has passed their bond has grown stronger, and their chemistry is similar to that of a pair of forwards who always know where the other one will go next with the puck. Along with the growth in chemistry has been a consistent effort of success, averaging over 25 wins and 10 NCAA Commitments per season, since the league was formed back in 2013.

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've experienced a catastrophic event. Learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. Once again, my name is Neil Raven. This is episode number thirty three of the e show and the team of the week this week it's the Connecticut rough riders. So let's start by welcoming in the head coach in the GM, Eric Lynn. Welcome to the east show, Eric Neil. Thank you for having me, looking forward to it and coming on for the first time on the east show the associate head coach of the rough riders. Welcome to the east show, Stephen Brown. Thanks Neil. Excited and excited for HL season coming up and about that season coming up, the eighth year of the Eh Shell, and we'll get to this later in the podcast. For your one of the teams that's been around since the beginning. So I'll let either one of you take this one. How do we feel heading into a year eight compared to the previous seasons? I'll start off. It is Eric here. I feel very excited and definitely going to be different landscape here with Covid so I feel actually the growth over the eight years between myself and Brownie. It's you to play a huge factor here with just the culture we're going to set and, you know, getting kids used to a different setting. So I'm looking I'm very looking. I'm looking forward to it. And for you, Brownie, looking back on the previous years, you guys, obviously, has I mentioned have have been in the league since the League has formed, back in two thousand and thirteen. How do you look at this year's roster and compared to the previous seasons? Well, last year we were a little heavy and age out players and this year we're sort of returning to our more balanced lineup where we'll have an equal amount of two thousands of ones and O two's and trying to keep within our developmental model of making sure players are prepared for the next step and in terms of the recruiting I know that you guys do it a little bit differently than other programs do. So all Brownie all you want, you start with this one. How do you guys lit it up each offseason? Well, you know, obviously when the next season begins, that's when you're starting the recruiting process. And then sort of add on to that, there's players that you've been looking at for for many years before that, coming out of AAA programs or even in Europe. So we keep the TAB on players, but once the season starts and that player is slated to play in juniors the next season, then we begin to monitor them, watching them online. I mean much different now than eight, nine years ago, and you know there was no hockey TV. So it allows us to be in a lot of places that want trying to get to some live games during the year and then starting conversations La there's via facetime, which is the best way to do things nowadays, and saying if we get them on first gate at any point during the season, or coming out for a private skate and seeing how they're doing on the skills wise front. So, like I said, starting, starting early on the process and our objective is, if we can, is to try to get our players that we're looking at earlier, before showcases to start, because we would rather see players play in season then in a showcase scenario. Ultimately mean sometimes you don't have or you're not fortunate to be able to do that all the time, but if we can get players that are interested in that fit our mold both on skill set and character, which is a big thing for us.

So we like to get them in an earlier to the program and Eric Ah, you go off of that. It seems like you know from my league perspective. I don't want to use the word fifty split, but you guys handle the recruiting together. It's not one person really more than the other. Is that fair? I mean Brownie handles, I would say, you know, the majority of the recruiting. I help them, I help them out, but we also we have a good foundation of local players, so players at you know, either myself or Brownie had a private lessons or I had at the youth level. So I'd say like some of our top players we've known since, you know, you know, seven, eight, nine years old. So that gives us advantage and also, you know, even if players that we've known for a long time, decide to go to another league a lot of those players and I'm coming back to us, which you know, we could relationship. So I think like, like I said, that, like I had half our roster we've known for a long time and then and then the other half, obviously out of stay and stuff that Brownie. That keeps a very good relationship. But Gosh, so off of that, you know, the reason I brought it up is I mentioned right the beginning the title for you, Stephen, is associate head coach. Now for you, Eric, what I noticed with a lot of our teams is you got the guy who's the head coach in the GM who's doing so much of the work and obviously you have some ownership also, but then a lot of these programs just have assistant coaches who, not to knock them, but show up for practicing and in Games and take off, you know, when they don't have to be there. For you guys, you really work full time together to have an assistant who, I said, it's not really your system easy, associate head coach, to have a guy like Brownie with you who's full time like that. How does it make your job easier? I mean I have a here working so long together, but we feed off each other and it makes my life a lot easier and it honestly it makes the players get that much more experience when there's two guys hands on and we also have a goalie coach, Craig Height, that works to take our heart that's also very much involved and and then we also have another assistant that helps us with the off ice and so we have a nice crew and the facility so no helps us out a lot to they have a staff that very involved. So we try to make this experience, you know, the best for the player and that leads into their development on ice and off the ice, and that's I'm staggering here into. I don't know if you guys realize this, but obviously the junior hockey landscape has changed a lot over the years and this upcoming season the Eh Shel will not feature the junior flyers with the revolution and Brownie. I'm not sure if you you probably have an idea of this already, but you're now basically, I guess we can call it an original six team in the EHL. Do you a kind of quiz? You do you do you know who the other five teams are we went over the point? It's it's Rangers. Yes, I don't have the list in front of you. All the teams on top of my Oh God. All, yeah, you got three of them right there, Rangers yourself in Valley. Three more enough to look at the map here. Oh yeah, apple or apple core, Walpole and the little flyers. And what's really interesting when you look at that...

...original six, apple core a few different head coaches over the years. Warriors had Andy Hines for all those years. Now they're head coach is Ryan McGrath. Rich DiCaprio took over for Mario Martin yellow towards the beginning of the EHL, and little fires, obviously, three different head coaches since the league was formed. So of the original six teams, Brownie, you're the only coaching duo that's been together the entire time. So you're technically the longest coaching or tenured coaching duo in the HL. As I make you feel, it's it's like Eric said, we have an unbelievable synergy. It's it's sometimes it's a Yin Yang, but we definitely, like Eric's said, we totally feed off of each other because we compliment each other really well. And if I sort of go back to the beginning, when I start started with Eric, I had just started. I had taken a year off ear away from the bench. I was working with a Quebec tew team out of Wilkes beare because I was a little burnt out for coaching for thirty years and I just needed a break. And they had opened Sono at the rink and I had met Eric and you know, they call me in and I helped them the first year out just doing you know video, but that was when we were in the EJ and and then, you know, came on board and just as an assistant and and just really like what Eric was teaching on from his skill set and obviously he's one of the best skating instructors probably in the world, definitely in the United States, you know, in the tops there for sure. And he was looking at the game from the skill set and the development aspect and me, coming out of pro and college, looking at the game differently, more into tactical and so the more I worked with Eric, and it took years for me to really understand sort of his philosophy and his and his styling, it was a great place to be and that's why I haven't moved since then. It's not so much as going and finding a team for myself. It is just happy with the environment that I'm in and really enjoying to come to the rink every day and and seeing, you know, happy we can develop and move those players and that's the Nice thing about junior. Before coming to rough riders, I only coach Juniors for one year at Aka Stockholm back in one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven, but it was my favorite age group, even more favorite professional guys. So once I once I started working more and more and then we started getting players onto university and seeing how they are performed at university. That that for me and being fifty six coming up in November, it's very rewarding it to be requirement and we'll stick with you for this next one because obviously it's been a few years now since the name change and I think everyone knows the rough riders are now, but in the beginning years you guys were the Connecticut oilers the first few years. Can you kind of take us through the process of how things change and why it's benefited you so much? Well once first of all, we're part of the rough riders sports clubs. The Rough Riders Sports Club is owned by Tony's Dao, is the owner of USHL team eater rapids Iowa, and then we have a facility out in Colorado which houses our eighteen and under play. But when we had the oilers in the beginning it was still a rough riders brand with the same low going and the same marketing arm. But we had used the oilers because there was a team called the home oilers that played out of Norwalk, a Semibus, some semi pro team back in the S and s. So that's where they use that in from the history standpoint. And then as the program through to grow and the oilers quickly started a game recognition from from...

...our youth teams like ours and eighteens. At that point here at ak we thought it was more beneficial for the rough riders group who transition names are rough riders across the board, and so the rough riders arm very strong. A lot of people don't miss but the rough rider those right of other sport like Lacrosse, basketball and even product the like. And Eric, will shift to you for this next question. I've brought it up a few times with the team of the week features this offseason, because what I've noticed about the answers to this question is they've all been pretty unique. For you guys, this past March, obviously the way that the season ended was probably completely unpredictable. When we started the year you never could have thought that that we would have had to cancel the season with two weeks to go before our finals. But for you guys, you actually your seasonless technically over. I know that this is a kind of a tough way to bring it up, but you would lost your series against the junior flyers. And why I'm asking this question is because the different coaches that I've talked to, you know, for example, bills in a bony, who lost in the same round you did, said that he was happy that his team wasn't still playing because he wouldn't have known how to handle not having that closure. Do you, did you guys feel the same way having that closure, or would you have still, you know, obviously preferred to have won that series and still been playing? Yeah, I mean, first of all, you know, my prayers and herd goes out carry with it's fun passing. There is a crazy sary, you know, very well, being Aaron they put. They put a coach in that dating know the lineup. So that was that was and you know, we played very well that first game. We're rolling on all cylinders and you could see they kind of Letur team pulled together and I think they really did play for Gary. You know, that was a different team that I seen in a regular season. That person. They played at a passion. I think they played for Jerry that those two games. But I was proud of our team. They developed throughout the year and and it was unfortunate and they like that. So let's put you guys on the spot. Then say you do get through that playoff series is and then the season gets canceled the way it did. How would you handle the meeting to pass the message to your players that unfortunately, it was over before you could see any sort of finish line? I mean I think it's like white you know things come up, you know things that are not expected and I think it's a it's a learning lesson for these players. You know life that they but you want it and and take it a positive manner because I mean literally the world hasn't seen anything like this. Covid so everyone's adapting and I don't look at the positive, positive side of it all, and we're obviously closer to the start of next season, obviously, than the ending of this past season. Stephen, the season ends, you lose that tough series with the junior flyers who, Erica mentioned, were just purely motivated by the passing of Jerry demus The Sun. They it was pretty inspiring what they did. We've talked in the past in the offseason about how we always need time to decompress and and close things out. How quickly did you turn the page and start, you know, having the exit interviews and then beginning the recruiting for this upcoming year? Yes, so we we finished on them on it was a Monday. Oh, no, Tuesday. When Wednesday? What? Whatever the next day was, we were...

...back in the building. We did exit the COVID NHL cancelation was Thursday. The EHL was at zero pm that afternoon, so I think the NHL announced that noon. So we were already done and players were already on the way, our European players. We told them to get on planes, so they the last flights out of the states were on Friday. So our finished player and our lobby and player were already gone by Friday, so we were already in that process and then headed down to the rink. That's all sort of the last time I had seen Eric. Just quickly and tap took all my school already cleared my desk out and went home and like started in the Turret and just starting recruiting, because we knew at that point that if we could get a jump on everyone's to some some some leaves were still going on just for a little bit and before people will wake we could take a quick steps. We were already starting on next season, calling CCM and getting in our our order all like we I had the time to do that and now let's continue to find that positive silver lining behind all this as we look ahead to the eighth season. You know there's no betting when it comes to the EHL, but one bet with the rough riders is your consistency. When you look back over the seven years, we start with the wind totals, twenty six, thirty one, two thousand and eight, seventeen, thirty one, twenty two, twenty eight, and you go to the commitments, twelve thirteen, twelve thirteen, twelve seven nine. You could pencil in twenty five wins, ten commitments every year. Stephen, will start with you. What do you credit that consistency to? When we bring players into the building, our objective is to develop mentally make them ready for the next process, the next step, which college. That player could be a young player where their three or four years of junior left two years, or even that player that's just coming for just one year of Juniors, and during that process it's important that they start learning the basics again. We have to evaluate their game or we've been recruiting them are and we have to improve this because when they get to university they're working more in the tactical environment who their play rather small nuance business skills. So you know, as I alluded to before, Eric is, you know, one of the best skating instructors on this planet and they have that that that nugget in the building every day from the skill set to start working on what their deficiencies are and then we start to overlay that from the technical work to obviously the more tactical work. But at the end of the day only one team can win a championship everything, and so they're going to be eighteen teams in the AHL, for example, that will not win a championship. But what is the end goal? The end goal is getting the player to NCAA hockey, which the AHL is on a tremendous job, the best fear for for that country right now. As far as play special division free, of course we have guys going you one as well, but when he's an end so we get eliminated whenever we get eliminated, going through and winning hip, that's secondary. So when the player comes up to our office in the morning during the season and says hey, hey, coaches, want to university, thank you so much for all your help for us, that's a championship with that's the most rewarding part for us. And through the process as well. We also take care of our players through college. Can practice with us when they can, especially in the beginning of season, maybe in the spring of the summer as well. And then there's some players that have aspirations of moving on to pro hockey and we do help them move on to that... level war whether it's Canada or Europe. As I said, the development of the athlete is important. The Balance Roster is important that you are you're always having players coming through and staying with you a number of years and not just in and out for one year. And off of that Eric Brownie mentioned, you know your championships are when the kids come to the office and and let you know that they've officially made their commitment for you guys. I don't have the full breakdown right here in front of me, but you know your average of ten commits per year is to a variety of different schools. It's not all to the same study AC or CCC program. You guys send players to all different universities and colleges across the country. What do you credit that variety to? I would do I credit variety to what the players looking for and where they're coming from, and then also a huge part thhl. You know. You know that the Games that were playing, you know a lot of schools are looking at are looking at those players. So it's the fit of the schools and obviously it's a relationships you know Brownie has and that I have to the colleges. I mean it's up all division three. They're like we I remember we've had some division one guys where, you know, I really felt there the vision one player and I made those calls that you want schools and you know there is one defenseman in mind. There's fifteen division one coaches at a game to look at them, you know, and then, you know, even going back to like how to Wilkinson, that was the captain that army and defenseman year, Sophomore Year in La League. You know, just that relationship of him getting there. He want to go to army. I was I knew the coaches very well and I thought he'd be asked to the team and they went either way. They took him and actually had the actually caught another defenseman. So I think it's just coaches trusting you. It's the same when we get a recruit. You know, if my buddy recommends a player and that player turns out to be, you know, good and character, you know we're big on character players and and and I'll trust him again. We send a kid that's not very doesn't work out well, I won't go back to that guy. So I it's the same with the colleges. They have to trust you and a lot of our players that go on and up being captains and, you know, making a very big impact at these school so that's where we get a lot of repeat and that's where other schools want to take players also, and we also if we have a young player. You know, I moved players onto the BCHL that all went on the division. One Nick Germaine, who was a captain at Quinny PAC and we have Paul macaboy that's going to be at colgate. He's one of the leading goal scorers is past year and you know, and we're always in touch. They keep they come back in the summers and Spring and and we have a handful of guys doing very well at the pro level, like a Nikki Simona played for us. He should get shot with the C KNOWC sharks this year and there's a bunch of guys oversee. So I think it's just the credit. You know that that we can we're big, like Brownie said, undeveloped in skaters and the skill set and I just think that's where the Games going and and that's why our players are doing so well at the collegiate level and I think that's a great transition. That you started to mention some of the names, because for this last question, I've asked it all summer long to our team of the weak features and for them you can maybe say it was a little bit easier because they don't have as many years of a...

...track record to go off of. So that which is different from you guys. As we've mentioned a few times in this podcast, you're one of only six organizations that's been in the league since it's inception back in two thousand and thirteen, and you guys being the only two coaches that have been in the league that entire time. So the way I frame this question is we go to the two thousand and twenty one frozen finals and you're about to start your first game and going back to two thousand and thirteen, you can have any rough rider that you want on the ice. So if you two want to work on this together, who would be your three forwards, your to Defenseman and your one goaltender that you would send out there for that starting lineup? I intensely they did not talk to Brownie about this, because I want to kind of I want to feed off him. Will pray on the same page of players. But, Ronnie, why don't? Why don't you start off and then I'll pick the next one and so forth? Well, you want to do the four words, will do for words. I mean definitely Walker Harris has to be up there. Yeah, he's when he's my number one two. Yeah, he's a definitely on that front. As far as a, you know, a top player, we also have Nick Germain it, and I don't want to interrupt that. I think Walker Harris is going to get a Hil try out. I'm not trying to jinx it, but I think he'll taking to get a h I'll try out this year. Yeah, so I we definitely have him and then obviously Nick Germaine would be another, another forward that was definitely an our top the top group of players, and those two are pretty big standouts we've had. We've had a variety of other forwards and that have been impactful. Of Lucas Pomier Day, who's currently playing in in the what Sphl, and had some stints in the e see as well. And I'm just trying to think of are you got any more guys? I did not have Nick Jermaine and my top three, but even though I coached him since he's seven years both. But I had Lucas and then what was that last one week? You cut out there for a second. I was that third forward. I had a tie between Joey Whitmore and Tad action for a third spot. Okay, okay, that's good and it yeah, and then on defense out Alex Wilkinson, and then I secondly, I had I had Danny MC mcmilliemall, yeah, that's what I would have said. Yeah, mcmullen, yeah, exactly. Yeah, and then obviously Telford takes takes that. Yep, that was the one that I was pretty convinced you guys were going to be set on, with Tilford and Net and then obviously some of those other names. They're Walker Harris just helped Wesleyan when the nest cactus past year. Unfortunately, with the way the season ended, they didn't get to even play in the NCAA tournament. But in the NCAA tournament I always reference what Todd Jackson did. He spent three years with you guys and then as a freshman, maybe he could have gone and been a fourth or Third Line Division One guy, but as a freshman he scores the game winning goal in the National Championship game for Norwich she you just mentioned Nick Jermain, a captain at Quinnipiac, Alex Wilkinson, Michael Tilford, you guys have had. That's a great, tremendous history and so many good players that have come through there and, as I mentioned earlier in the pods casts, it seems like every year you can pencil in the rough riders for at least twenty five wins and at least ten commitments. One of the organizations that's built off of this consistency and is really probably the most consistent of all the teams in the League. So I'm looking forward to watching you guys again this year seeing...

...what new players you bring in, because I'm sure there's going to be some. Maybe there's another AJ Bella forty goal scorer coming into your line up here soon. But I wish you the best of luck with the rest of the offseason and in this upcoming year as well. Thank you for coming on the PODCAST, yell. Thank you very much having a thanks, neal, and now you do a great job at the AHL and since you've come on, the AHL's really hit hit the wheel and and is flying, and just keep up the work you're doing for men us off. Yeah, we can't thank you enough, fell, for all your hard work. Thank you. Thanks, guys, appreciate it. 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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