THE #ESHOW
THE #ESHOW

Episode · 1 year ago

Team of the Week (Ducks) | Episode 80

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

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 e show with Neil Raven. With over one THO 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 to catastrophic event. Learn more at penalty box foundation dot Org. What's up? My name is Neil Raven. This episode number eighty of the e show, and on this week's episode we chat with Terry Watt, the head coach and general manager of the PROTEC junior ducks. July of two thousand and twenty one feels a little bit different from July of two thousand and twenty four. What as he and the ducks prepare for their second season in the EHL? The inaugural campaign one as well as the program could have asked for, as the League manage their way through a pandemic hockey season after finishing in third place in the South and placing all of their agil players into NCA hockey. Watts got his sight set on taking a step further this year and the end goal is to make it to providence. Joy Now by Terry Watt, the head coach and general manager the Proteg Junior ducks haws going, Terry, I'm doing well in near how you done? Yeah, I'm doing well. Thank you for coming on the podcast for the first time. We did not get a chance to have you on last offseason. So let's start with the with the comparison question. Compared to where you were last year to where you are at this year, how do you feel about your program I feel I feel pretty good about our program obviously last year was a different year for everybody, everybody in hockey, but no, we, we. I'm happy the way we finished the year, let's put it that way. Yeah, and when we talk about this time last year, in July, knowing that we were encroaching our way towards a covid a pandemic type season, were there nerves at all from you or anybody else in ownership? There? Honestly, no. I mean, and that's in a testament to actually you guys at the League. I mean any time that we talked with you guys or we had coaches meetings or league meetings. You guys assured us that you were going to do everything possible and make sure that we actually had a season last year. We were going to have it start to finish. Obviously, being in your our regular season in first year as an expansion team, there are some concerns, but I would looking back on it, I would pretty much say everyone they went pretty pretty smoothly, pretty good, and the League did a great, tremendous job of making 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 first season coaching in the EHL, one of the main questions I was going to want to ask you was it was obviously your first coaching job in junior's taking over a or in a league that you actually played in. What did that mean to you to have played in what was the Atlanta Junior Hockey League that became the EHL? What does it mean do you to, you know, be a player and then become a coach in this league? To be honest of you, is pretty surreal. It's like it's like kind of like a full three hundred and sixty where in the fact that when I played in this league, obviously was a great league back then and I know the J and Aja merged over the years after I left, but it was a pretty cool it's just to be able to relate to the players that played in this league...

...and I played in this league and just to know how good this league it always has been and how it's been run is a pretty cool experience because I this league is what pretty much gave me my career and started off my career. So it was very rewarding in that way. Was it always a thought process of yours to become a coach first and then coach junior hockey? Become a coach first? Yeah, so it's it just funny how things worked out. I mean, you know, you play hockey for a while, you play college, you play pro and then you don't know what's going to happen. And then I was very fortunate off, very lucky. I was in the right place at the right time where I got offered a coach and the n whl, which is the highest pro women's League, and that ended up leading into me getting asked to work with all the US Olympic and Canadian Olympic women as a skills coach and being a GM and coach in the Pwhpa the last two years. And did I? Did I ever think that I would eventually end up back into guys hockey and junior hockey? The long story is, yes, I find it more rewarding coaching at this level only in the fact that I like the development process and I like I like the advancement and helping kids get to college, whether they're male or female. I definitely enjoyed my time with the women and I would go back there. Obviously, off another offer, good opportunity, came back, but obviously women talk. He's growing right now at 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 just a good opportunity to me to get back into like junior hockey and helping kids get to college. And I'm more passionate about the development process of opposed to the professional process. So let's dive into that more than for a second, because you keep using the word development process. You have to you have to say that. Obviously, when you're working with Olympic women as women's hockey players, do you find yourself teaching as much as you do with with the with the Boys Juniors? Oh, that's a hard question. I think it's two different things. I mean, when you're working with professionals every day, they show up every day. They did. They have the mindset in the mentality where they they know what what it takes to be at that level, to be at the top of their game, and those working with those women is tremendous and you really don't, you really don't get a good appreciation for it until you actually see how dedicated those women are every day and how hard they work. And they're true pros and I'm a firm believer that they deserve equal pay to guy's and I'm a Fulm believers they deserve the same resources as the males do at the professional level because they put in just as much work as the guys do. The difference between them and junior hockey is I think we get young men and we're trying to teach them how to be professionals. We're trying to teach them to get into the routine, we're trying to teach them about taking care of their bodies. We're teaching them about being in the gym, eating right, showing up every day and giving everything you have, and it's just it's two different things. I mean with the women at there or at the pro level, it's like those people already know what's expected and they do that. But at our level it's about like teaching these young men about what it takes to be at that professional level. And let's dive back into the junior side of things. You said...

...that there weren't a lot of nerves as the season got started last year and then you come out you win your very first two games. Did that feel like a huge weight off your shoulders right away? I'd be lying if I said it wasn't a good feeling. But anybody that's been around and knows it's a long season, right. So we win the first two games, but if we lose it. We win the first two games, but if we lose the next thirty doesn't mean anything, right. Yeah, so, looking back on last year, I mean obviously it was great to start off this season with two wins right off the bat, just to get the the guys some confidence and get them roll in. But after when the season was over and I kind of looked back on it, even though, I mean, like, come on, this is such a good league. V Ahl, the coaching is tremendous in this league. All of our coaches are really good. It's so competitive every day. I mean you can't take a game off. If you take a game off, no matter who you're playing, you're going to lose. And but looking back at the end, at the end of the year, even though our goal is to win, I mean there's that common saying in 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 I kind of kept on referring myself back to the month the the movie money ball with Brad Pitt and Joanah Jonah Hill. Yeah, and I'm not comparing ourselves to Major League Baseball team where the Oakland a's run would what they did, but I firmly believe as an expansion team, we kind of had a home running we didn't even realize it. And 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 as well as we did and we were able to get all of our age outs college commitments. In a way, it was a home running. We didn't even realize it. It was the best thing that you could poss we asked for and you you mentioned how competitive the League was. When you dive into the numbers, I guess you could say, of last year's season, I don't know if you realize this, but we look at just the games that we're just out to buy two goals or less. You won thirteen of them. You lost eleven of them. Included in that total, eight of those losses were by a single goal. When you take a step back now in the offseason and you look 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 that would that can do for you in the standings. And you know that's a good point. You know we actually we actually talked about that a lot, as like organization that coaching staff. I mean I think it's the first half of the year. The first half of the year we were in most of the Games and we lost. We Lat I correct me if I'm wrong, but I think we had either the second or third most overtime law or shootout losses in the entire league. Elect you most, I can most we were like one goal games, right, yeah, and one balance our way, one balance, and you know, it changes everything. But at the end of the day, we were we were a young team, and I'm making excuses for us. We were a young team, we were an expansion team and I'm sure the biggest thing that most is coaches and organizations would tell you is building a culture and a mindset is important to be successful. Yeah, and again, not making excuses, but being in a covid year, it was really hard for I felt, looking back on it, there's really hard for us to like get a culture right away or a mindset or an the right environment we wanted. Yep, with with Covid, because obviously there were some rescheduling of games and stuff like...

...that. So we win a couple and then we'd have to be off a couple days and and the guys weren't allowed to like hang out really outside of the rink and bond together. So I think you'll notice at the end of the year we started to do a lot better, but I think it's just because it took a lot, a little bit longer for our team to kind of Gel and for us to build that environment, in that culture, in that mindset that we really wanted to build. So let's let's go into that end of the year, because you want six straight games to go to the going to the postseason. Could you ask? Could you ask for anything better than to have that run? No, honestly, no. I mean, again, another cliche saying in hockey it's not where how you start, to tell you finish right, and it's about peeking at the right time. YEA, and our team definitely peeked at the right time at the end of the year, when the game started the matter more and when intensity picked up, our guys started to come together, they started to Gel, they started to get that culture and environment in that mindset that we wanted. And, like you said, winning scantagious and losing scantagious, and once we started to get that taste of winning, our guys were just hungry and they just had something to prove. Yeah, and you mentioned how young your team was, but you also mentioned helping all of your age outs get committed, which is an accomplishment on its own and I think it was a few of your agels to particular down the stretch that really stepped up and helped lead you on that six game winning streak that turned into two wins against the Apple Corps. That helps you win that playoff series. Obviously you did lose the little fires in the following round, but a team that you had a great chance against. But let's talk about one player first. In particular. You have a chance to bring in a goalie, and Matt sales late in the year last year and he played in nine total games for you and all nine games he made over thirty staves and he won six games for you throughout that time. How big of an impact that he make on this the whole organization? Not Maddie was Maddie was a big addition to the locker room. There's no question about that. But I'm saying that I also want to touch on our other goalie is I mean our other goalies throughout the whole year put us into position that we did. We were in for Maddie to kind of step in. So without all the other goalies prior to him, we would even had the opportunity in the standings end up finishing where we did. Or get us where we were. So I want to give them credit by being successful to the whole year prior to Maddie getting there. But when Maddie did get there, he came with that. Obviously he came from the seven S, which is a winning organization, with that winning attitude, in that winning environment and the mentality, and he kind of just right from day one, came in our locker room and he kind of just took it over. It's it's hard to explain unless you were there. He just he gave I don't even want to say that he gave our team a chance to win every night down the stretch. I would say that he won games for us. There's a different when you guys picked up your first victory against the eighty seven's down the stretch and he was in goal a shutout when in their building, did he say anything to you? How much of that moment and mean to him? That reaction tells a lot that w I honestly, if you had to ask me any turning point in our season, that was probably one of them, because we obviously struggled with the sevens all year. I mean so like most teams. Must be honest here. We struggled with them. I mean, I believe the for...

...five game out of the four or five games we played prior to Maddie coming to us, three of them were one goal games and I think two of them they beat us by two or three goals, but they were still close games. We were in the I believe three of those five games we were actually leading going into the third period and they came back and beat us. But that's a testament to the seven's and their character as a group that they had. But that win at their rink in their barn and Matt's first game against his old team and getting a shut out, I would say that was a big turning point for our team because our team now knew they had the confidence that they could beat the seven's and it was obviously was huge for Matt and you asked me about what he said. To me, it wasn't really there was no words. It was more it was more of an it was more of an emotional thing where we we hoped it. We hugged it out afterwards and I told him I was super proud of them. Yeah, and then, from a forward perspective, a player that joined your program a little bit earlier than sales did, was conner Tartag Leone he joined your team in mid November, average just under a point per game, with thirty points in thirty one, but was stood out to meet down the stretch for him with a ten points in 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 this fall as well. How proud of you, proud of him? Are Are you of what he accomplished his past year? Tags takes tags is a tremendous hockey player and a lot of people probably don't know this, but he had to get some things going on in his life and he kind of struggled at the beginning when he got to us. I mean he was still a great player, but once he started to get settled in and and get into our rhythm, it would be hard to say that he didn't put the team on his shoulders at the end of the year and lead the way. Yeah, he he had a tough year personally and you see him overcome that and be able to turn it on and put the team on his shoulders at the end of the year and step up in a big way. I think he scored like two or three game winning goals down the stretch and last team ten games and he also scored that overtime winning goal against apple core in the final game. I'm very, very, very very proud of that kid and super happy for him that he's one of those rare kids that to choose where he went to school because he had options. But that's a testament to his hard work and his hard player in this league that so many schools were willing to commit him and he got to choose where he wanted to go. Yeah, and he's heading off to Lake Forest College this fall. A player that's also committed but not heading off until the following fall, is Tyler ebling. If anymore isn't in this league this past year, I think appling, as an Oto, has as good an argument as anyone to be the rookie of the year. Where you surprised by how good he was in his first season in the EHL? Yes, I had a lot of people in the local Ara where we live were we're kind of doubting my decision taking him. Okay, but I didn't know, and I honestly I had. I had people that had were reaching out to me that had doubts and but he would train with me in the summer at the rink and I just saw his work at that it every day and I'm like this, this kid's work at it alone is going to get them places, and Hie is one of those g guys where he was given an opportunity with their I'm going to be on like...

...if he was with another team this year, he may have not got the opportunity, but because we were an expansion team and all the players were new to me, I was do to them, so opportunities were out the window. You know what I mean, though, I didn't have any favorites. I didn't have my first line in place or my second line in place. I played it as that whoever shows up and competes, you're good. That's what line you're going to be on every day. And from the drop of the Poctie earned his way in our top six and he just ran with it. You you never looked back. I can't speak volumes about that kid and, like you know, it's this is why I like love coaching junior hockey. It's, like I said, it's that development process and just watching kids be able to get to the levels they want to tie side in my office. The true story and in September and when I do my interviews with all my players about their their grades and what are their goals for college and where do they want to go? The first school that ebling said to me when he's had in my office, he's like, coach, I want to be an engineer. My parents are both engineers. It's just what I've always done. My Dream Schools Milwaukee School of Engineering. And three months later coach Johnson from Milwaukee School of Engineering called me and said I want Tyler Eve one and that that's why we do this. You know what I mean? To be able to call Tyler and to my office and say Milwaukee School of Engineering wants to commit to you. It's just such a rewarding ceiling, just maybe a let's see that the kid put the smile on his face and just just know that everything that he's done up to this date is paid off and he's a two hundred foot player and any team in this league would be lucky. Tom Yep, and I know you mentioned this earlier, that the saying of 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 third place finished, with the Games that you want down the stretch and the commitments and everything else that you guys accomplished in year number one, where do you truly set the bar as your main goal heading into year number two? I knew you're gonna ask me that at you. Well, obviously the championship would be will be, you know, yeah, 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, I mean obviously, obviously, and I mean like I'm not like I would. I would like to think that we would agree that our team did pretty well for an expansion team. So the bars pretty high for next year, let's put it that way. And I have seven eligible returners versus, will say. All of those seven eligible returners have been invited to NCDC and all camps, so whether they end up back with me yet is still unknown. But if I can retain those seven experienced players and mix them in with the players that I've already signed for next year, I'm very confident that we we can be better than we were last year. Obviously the goals to win every year. Not Making any excuses, but the bars pretty high in my mind. Let's put it that way. We all do this as coaches and teams and organizations. We're in this to win and anything else other than winning is because we're so competitive. It feels like a failure. But the bar right now is really high. I don't want to put any predictions out, okay, but I expect. I expect my team, if I can retain at least five of my returners, mixed in with all the other additional players that I've signed today,...

I expect us to be one or two in our division next year. Okay, I like that prediction. And you mentioned the seven, you know, eligible returners that you have. Obviously doesn't fill the whole roster. So when you compare last offseason to this offseason again, how much has your recruiting message change towards New Perspective players based off of what your team did accomplish this past year? The message is not much different, Neil, to be honestly, the messages that you want to come to a great organization with great ownership. Again, sorry little shout out here. I mean not to get off a side topic here, but I can't speak enough for my owners, Pascal and Debby, and my boss Showbikino and Steven Rue are hockey offs director. Everyone knows that it takes an entire team and an entire organization to be successful and without those guys and ladies we wouldn't have been as good as we were last year or successful. But it's it's just, it's just. The message is just that if you want to come to a place where you get treated great. Our facility is beautiful, it's nice, great locker room, Great Drim, great trainers, if you want to come to a place where you're going to develop, where we are expecting to be really good next year and playing in our league and the HL's a big selling point to just our league speaks for itself with college placements. But the message, honestly, this offseason hasn't changed much. It's just we want guys that want to be here and if you want to be a part of what we've built off of last year, because look how well we did do last year at our first year, think about what we can build off of and just keep on continuing to get better and stronger, and that's really the message this offseason is building off of last year and just getting to the goal next year is to get to the providence and anything other than that and I'm not going to be happy with myself for or or organization. To be honest with you. That's the goal next years Providence, and we keep our goal every year. Is it continually to get better. We don't want it. We don't want to decline, we want to continue to go up the ladder and that's the goal. That's the message. Well, there you go at two questions later. So I did get the main goal out of you. Reads the frozen finals. All right, there we go. We'll mark it down. Well, I appreciate you come on the podcast for the first time and enjoy the rest of the offseason. Thanks, Neil. Thanks for having me. 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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