Episode · 3 months ago

Team of the Week (Ducks) | Episode 80


On this week's episode of the #EShow, we chat with Terry Watt, the Head Coach and General Manager of the Protec Jr. Ducks (1:15). July of 2021 feels a little bit different from July of 2020 for Watt, as he and the Ducks prepare for their 2nd season in the EHL. The inaugural campaign went as well as the program could have wanted, as the league managed its way through the pandemic hockey season. After finishing in 3rd place in the south and placing all of their age-out players into NCAA hockey, Watt's got his sights set on taking a step further this year, and the end goal is to make it to Providence.

Welcome to the show, with neil rabbin,with over one thousand mca commitments, the eh l is the proven path to collegeturn it up and learn more about the college placement leader at thedivision. Two and three levels welcome to the e show presented by thepony box foundation foundation's mission centers around their daily mode.We take care of our own as they help out all of those within the hockeycommunity who experience a catastrophic event, learn more at pelly oxfoundation, dot org. What's up, my name is neil ravin. This is episode numbereighty of the e show and on this week's episode we chat with terry watt, thehead coach and gentle manager of the protec junior ducks july of twothousand, and twenty one feels a little bit different from july of two thousandand twenty for what, as he and the ducks prepare for their second seasonin the eh l, the inaugural campaign went as well as the program could haveasked for, as the league managed their way through a pandemic hockey seasonafter finishing a third place in the south and placing all of their alplayers into nta hockey wat's got his site set on taking a step further thisyear and the end goal is to make it the providence. I'm joy now by terry watt, the headcoach and gentle manager, the protect junior ducks, has going terry, i'm doing well neo. How re you doingi'm doing well. Thank you for coming on the podcast. For the first time, we didnot get a chance to have you on last off season. So, let's start with thewith the comparison question compared to where you were last year to whereyou are this year. How do you feel about your program? I feel i feel pretty good about ourprogram. Obviously, last year was a different year for everybody, everybodyin hockey, but no, we we i'm happy the way wefinished the year. Let's put it that way, yeah and when we talk about thistime last year in july, knowing that we were now encroaching our way towards a coved, apandemic type season, were there nerves at all from you or or anybody else inownership. There, honestly, no, i mean and that's an a testament toactually you guys at the league. I mean any time that we talked with you guysor we had coaches meetings or league meetings. You guys assured us that you were going to do everythingpossible to make sure that we actually had a season. Last year we were goingto have it start to finish, obviously being in your our regularseason and first year as an expansion team. There are some concerns, but iwould looking back on it. I would pretty much say everyone thing wentpretty pretty smoothly pretty good and the league did a tremendous job ofmaking sure that we had a season and we played all of our games start to finish,and if i had had a chance to have you on last summer, before your firstseason, coaching in the eh l, one of the main questions i was going to wantto ask you was: it was obviously your first coaching job in juniors, takingover a in a league that you actually played inwhat did that mean to you to have played in what was the atlantic juniorhockey league? That became the eh? What did it mean to you to? You, know, be aplayer and then become a coach in this league. To be honest with you is, it is prettysurreal. It's like it's like kind of like a full thread sixty where, in thefact that, when i played in this league, a obviously with a great league back then-and i know the uj and j merged over the years after i left, but it was a pretty cool just to be able torelate to the player that played in...

...this league and i played in this leagueand just to know how good this league, it always has been, and how it's beenrun is a pretty cool experience, because this league is what pretty much gave memy career and started off my career. So it was very rewarding in that way. Wasit always a thought process of yours to become a coach first and then coachjunior aki become a coach vers yeah, so it just funny how things work out. Imean you know you play hockey for a while. You lay college, you play proand then you don't know what's going to happen and then i was very fortunate ofvery lucky. I was in the right place at the right time where i got off, or the coach and n w h,l, which is the highest pro woman's league and that ended up leading into me. Getting asked to work with all theus olympic and canadian olymic women as a skills, coach and being a gm, ancoach in the p, w ha the last two years and did i did. I ever think that iwould eventually end up back into guys hockey and junior hockey. The longstory is yes, i find it more rewarding coaching at this level. Only in thefact that i, like the development process- and i like i like theadvancement and helping kids get to college, whether they're, male orfemale. I definitely enjoyed my time with the women and i would go back there. Obviously, anoff a good opportunity came back, but obviously women hockey is growing rightnow with the landscape, and i did what i had to do with them and help them out,and i still actually work with the women on the side. But it was us a good opportunity to meto get back into like junior hockey and helping kids get to college and i'mmore possint about the development process opposed to the professionalprocess. So let's dive into that more then for a second, because you keepusing the word development process you have to. You have to say that,obviously, when you're working with olympic women, it's woman's hockeyplayers, did you find yourself teaching as much as you do with with the withthe boys juniors? Oh that's a hard question. I it's two different things. I meanwhen you're working with professionals every day they show up every day. They have themindset in the mentality where they know what what it takes to be at thatlevel to be at the top of their game and those working with those women istremendous. And you really: don't you really don't get a goodappreciation for it until you actually see how dedicated those women are everyday and how hard they work and their true pros and i'm a firm believer thatthey deserve equal pay to guys and a most full believer and they deserve thesame resources as the males do at the professional level, because they put injust as much work as the guys do. The difference between them and juniorhockey is, i think we get young men and we're trying toteach them how to be professionals, we're trying to teach them to get intothe routine. We're trying to teach them about taking care of their bodies wereteaching them about being in the gym, eating right, showing up every day and givingeverything you have. And it's just it's two different things i mean with thewomen at the ore at the pro level. It's like those people already know what'sexpected, and they do that. But at our level, it's about like teaching theseyoung men about what it takes to be at that professional level. Yea and let'sdive back into the junior side of things, you said that there weren't alot of nerves as the season got started...

...last year and then you come out and youwin your ferry first, two games did that feel like a huge weight off yourshoulders right away. I'd be lying. If i said it, it wasn't agood feeling, but anybody that's been around and knowsit's a long season right. So we win the first two games, but if welose it, we win the first two games, but if we lose the next thirty doesn'tmean anything right, yeah. So looking back on last year, i meanobviously was great to start out this season with two wins right off the batjust to get the guys some confidence and get them rolling. But after when the season was over andi kind of looked back on it, even though i mean i come on, this issuch a good lead. Thl. The coaching is tremendous in this league. All of ourcoaches are really good. It's so competitive. Every day i meanyou can't take a game off. If you take a game off no matter who you're playingyou're going to lose and but looking back at the end at the endof the year, even though our goal is to win, i mean there's that common sayingin sports. If you don't win the last game of the year, nothing matters right,but obviously it sucked that we lost in the second round of playoffs. But ikind of kept on referring myself back to the mon. The movie money ball withbradded and jon jon a hell and i'm not comparing ourselves to a major league,baseball team or the okana's run, would what they did. But i firmly believe, asan expansion team, we kind of had a home run and we didn't even realize itin the fact that it's hard. This is a good league,there's good coaches, there's good players and the fact that we did aswell as we did and we were able to get all of our age outs college commitmentsin a way it was a home run and we didn't even realize it. It was the bestthing that you could possibly ask for, and you you mentioned how competitivethe league was when you dive into the numbers, i guess you could say of lastyear's season. I don't know if you realize this, but we look at just thegames that were just carded by two goals or less you won thirteen of them.You lost eleven of them included in that total. Eight of those losses wereby a single goal. When you take a step back now in the off season, and youlook at those numbers, how do you find a way as a coach to come out on top?You know maybe three quarters of the time moving forward. No one went thatwhat that can do for you in the standings, and you know that's a good point. Youknow we. Actually we actually talked about that a lot oflike organization and coaching stuff. I mean, i think, it's the first half ofthe year, the first half of the year we were inmost of the games and we lost we low. I correct me if i'm wrong, but i think wehad either the second or third most over time law or shoot out losses inthe entire league. So a moonees, we were like one goal: games right, yeahand one balance or away one balance. You know it changes everything, but at the end of the day we were we were ayoung team and i might make an excuses for us. We were a young team, we werean expansion team and i'm sure the biggest thing that most of his coachesand organizations would tell you is building a culture in a mindset isimportant to be successful and again not making excuses, but being in acoved year. It was really hard for i self, looking back on it, it's reallyhard for us to like get a culture right away or a mindsetor the right environment we wanted with with ovid, because obviously there weresome rescheduling of games and stuff... that. So we we win a couple andthen we'd have to be off a couple days and and the guys weren't allowed to likehang out really outside of the rink and balm together. So i think you'll noticeat the end of the year, we started to do a lot better, but i think it'sbecause it took a lot a little bit longer for our team to kind of gell andfor us to build that environment and that culture and that mindset that wereally wanted to build. So, let's say, let's go into that end of the year,because you want six straight games to go into the going to the post season.Could you ask, could you ask for anything better than to have that run? No, honestly, no, i mean again anothercliche saying in hockey it's not where how you start d tell you finish rightand it's about peeking at the right timeand our team definitely pieced at the righttime. At the end of the year, when the game started to matter more and whenintensity picked up our guys started to come together, theystarted to jail. They started to get that culture and environment and thatmindset that we wanted and, like you said, winning contagious and losingcontagious, and once we started to get that taste of winning our guys werejust hungry and they just had something to prove yeah, and you mentioned howyoung your team was. But you also mentioned helping all of your age outsget committed, which is an accomplishment on sone, and i think itwas a few of your age, outin particular down the stretch that really stepped upand helped leave you on that six game, winning streak that turned into twowins against the apple core that helps you win that playoff series. Obviouslyyou did lose the little flyers in the following round, but a team that youhad a great chance against. But let's talk about one player first inparticular, you have a chance to bring in a goalie and match sales late in theyear last year and he played in nine total games for you in all nine gameswho he made over thirty safes, and he won six games for you throughout thattime. How big of an impact that he make on this whole organization, maddie was maddie was a big addition tolock room. There's no question about that, but insaying that i also want to touch on our other goalies. I mean our other goaliesthroughout the whole year, put us into position that we did. We were in formaddie to kind of step in so without all the other goalies prior to him. Wewould even had the opportunity in the standings and up finishing where we didor get us where we were so. I want to give them credit by being successful tothe whole year prior to maddie getting there, but when mani did get there, hecame with that. Obviously he came from the y seven, which is a winning organization with a winningattitude in that winning environment and the mentality, and he kind of justright from day one came in our locker room and he kind of just took it over it's hardto explain unless she were there, he just he gave. I don't even want to saythat he gave our team a chance to win every night down the stretch. I would say that hewon games for us ye, there's different when you guys picked up your firstvictory against the eighty seven down the stretch and he was in goal i shutout when in their building did he say anything to you? How much of thatmoment i mean to him that reaction does a lot that when we honestly, if you had toask me any turning point in our season, that was probably one of them, because we obviously struggled with the t sevenall year i mean so like most teams must be honest here...

...we struggle, but then i mean, i believe, the four five games out ofthe four or five games we played prior to maddie coming to us. Three of them were one goal games and ithink two of them they beat us by two or three goals, but they were stillclose games. We were into, i believe, three of those five games. We wereactually leading going into the third period and they came back and beat us, but that's a testament to the ty sevensand their character as a group that they had, but that when at their rink in their barnand matt's first game against his old team and getting a shut out, i wouldsay that was a big turning point for our team, because our team now knewthey had the confidence that they could beat. The t seven and it was obviouslywas huge for mat, and you asked me about what he said to me. It wasn'treally. There was no word. It was more. It was more of an. It was more of anemotional thing where we hugged it. We hugged it out afterwards and i told himi was super proud of him yeah and then, from a forward perspective, a player that joined your program alittle bit earlier than sales did was conor tartalion. He joined your team inmid november average, just under a point per game with thirty points andthirty one, but was stood up to me done the stretch for him with a ten pointsin the last five regular season games and then four more points in the postseason, including a game winner and, of course, he's going off to college. Thisfall as well. How proud of you proud of him, are you of what he accomplishedthis past year. Tags takes tags, is a tremendous hockey player anda lot of people probably don't know this, but he had a had some thingsgoing on in his life and he kind of struggled at the beginning. When he gotto us, i mean he was still a great player, but once he started to getsettled in and and get into our rhythm, it would behard to say that he didn't put the team on his shoulders at the end of the yearand lead the way yeah. He he had a tough year personally and to see him overcome that and be able toturn it on and put the team on his shoulders at the end of the year andstep up in a big way. I think he scored like two or three game winning goaldown the stretch and the last team ten games, and he also scored that overtime,winning goal and against apple core in the final game. I'm very very, very, very proud of thatkid and super happy for him that he's one of those rare kids that got tochoose where he went to school because he had options, but that's a testamentto his hard work and his hard play in this league that so many schools werewilling to commit to him and he got to choose where he wanted to go yeah andhe's had enough to lake forest college. This fall a player, that's alsocommitted, but not heading off until the following fall is tyler ebling. Ifanny more isn't in in this league this past year, i think appling, i said o tohas as good an argument as anyone to be the rookie of the year. Were yousurprised by how good he was in his first season in the eh l? Yes, i i had a lot of people in the local areawhere we live, where we're kind of doubting my decision taking him. Okay, but i didn't know- and i honestlyi had- i had people that had were reaching out to me that had doubts andbut he would train with me in the summer at the rink, and i just saw hiswork at thic it every day, and i'm like this, this kid's work, i think alone,is going to get them places and tie is one of those guys where he wasgiven an opportunity with her i'm going... be on like if he wars with anotherteam. This year you may have not got the opportunity, but because we were anexpansion team and all the players were new to me. I was due to them. Soopportunities were out the window. You know what i mean, so i didn't have anyfavorites. I didn't have my first line in place or my second line in place. Iplayed it as that. Whoever shows up and competes you're goin. That's what lineyou're going to be on every day and from the drop of the pock tie, earnedhis way in our top six and he just ran with it. He never lookedback. I can't speak volumes about that kid and, like you know it's, this iswhy i like love coaching junior hockey. It's like i said it's that developmentprocess and just watching kids be able to get to levels. They want to tie sidein my office to choose story and in september, and when i do my interviewswith all my players about their their grades and what are their goals forcollege and where do they want to go the first school that evelin said to mewhen he said of my office he's like coach, i want to be an engineer. Myparents are both engineers, it's just what i've always done. My dream:schools, milwaukee school engineering and three months later, coch joden from milwaukee school ofengineering colome and said i want tyler ablin and that that's why we dothis. You know what i mean ye to be able to call tyler into my office andsay: melaki school engineering wants to commit to you it's just such arewarding feeling. Just maybe i see that that kid put the smile on his faceand just just know that everything that he's done up to this date is paid offand he is at two hundred foot player and any tum in this league would belucky to m yep, and i know you mentioned this earlier- that the sayingof, if, if you don't win the last game of the season, it doesn't really matter.Obviously, there's only one champion from this past year, but with the thirdplace finished with the games that you won down the stretch and thecommitments and everything else that you guys accomplished in year, numberone: where do you truly set the bar as your main goal heading into your numbertwo? I knew you're going to ask me that i ha you well. Obviously the championship wouldbe will be. You know the cream of the crowd, the best thing that you want,but but how do you build off of what was a great foundational year? If you will yeah-and i mean obviously obviously- and i mean likei'm not like- i would i would i like to think that we would agree that our teamdid pretty well for an expansion team, so the bar is pretty high for next year.Let's put it that way, and i have seven eligible returners, versewill say all those seven eligible returners have been invited to nds andall camps, so whether they end up back with me yetis still unknown, but if i can retain those sevenexperienced players and mix them in with the players that i've alreadysigned for next year, i'm very confident that we can be better than wewere last year. Obviously, the goal is to win every year, not making any excuses, but the bar ispretty high in my mind. Let's put it that way. We all do this as coaches andteams and organizations were in this to win and anything else other thanwinning it, because we're so competitive it feels like a failure,but the bar right now is really high. Idon't want to put any predictions out, but i expect i expect my team if i canretain at least five of my returners...

...mixed in with all the other additionalplayers that i have signed to date. I expect us to be one or two in ourdivision. Next year. Okay, i, like that prediction- and you mentioned the seven-you know eligible returners- that you have obviously doesn't fill the wholeroster. So when you compare last off season to this off season again, howmuch has your recruiting message changed towards new perspective playersbased off of what your team did accomplish this past year? The message is not much different, o tobe honest with you. The messages of you want to come to a great organizationwith great ownership. Again sorry little shout out here imean not to get off a side topic here, but i can't speak enough for my ownersas kellen devi and my boss, so bakin and stephen roar hockey of director. Everyone knows that it takes an entireteam in an entire organization to be successful and without those guys andladies, we wouldn't have been as good as we were last year or successful. But it's it's just it's just. The messageis just that. If you want to come to a place where you get treated great, our facility isbeautiful. It's nice, great, locker, room, great dream, great trainers. Ifyou want to come to a place where you're going to develop where we areexpecting to be really good next year and playing in our league in theyoule's, a big selling point to just our league speaks for itself at collegeplacements, but the message honestly, this off season hasn't changed much.It's just. We want guys that want to be here andif you want to be a part of what we've built off of last year, because lookhow well we did do last year in our first year think about what we can build off andjust keep on continuing to get better and stronger, and that's really themessage this off season is building off of last year and just getting to thegoal next year is to get to the providence and anything other than that.I'm not going to be happy with myself or or organization. To be honest withyou, that's the goal next year is providence and we give our goal everyyear. Is it continue to ly to get better? We don't want it, we don't wantto decline. We want to continue to go up the ladder. That's the goal, that'sthe message! Well, there you go two questions later, so i did get the maingoal out of you reach the frozen finals, all right there, we go we'll mark itdown a well. I appreciate you come on the podcast for the first time andenjoy the rest of the off season. Thanks me be for havin me thanks forlistening to the echo, learn more at eastern hockey league dot org andfollow us on facebook, twitter, instagram and youtube also be sure tosubscribe and get notified. When next week's poncas is released, a.

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