Episode 15 · 2 years ago

Team of the Week (Seahawks) | Episode 15


Our first team of the week feature highlights the Seahawks Hockey Club, as Bill Zaniboni gets set to turn the page over to season #4 for his program.

In each of the first three seasons, the Seahawks have made a step forward from the previous year. In their inaugural season, the Seahawks won 14 games. That number climbed up to 26 wins and the franchise's first-ever playoff appearance in the 2018-19 season. Then, this past year (2019-20), the Seahawks won 31 games in the regular season and picked up their first-ever postseason victory.

All in all, while the success on the ice has steadily improved, Zaniboni is more concerned with his team's advancement numbers, which currently sit at 29 NCAA Commitments through three years.

Welcome to the show with Neil Ravn. 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. Welcoming to the east show once again. My name is Neil Raven. This is episode Number Fifteen, the third one of the offseason. In the first time we're highlighting a team of the week, a feature that will be doing from now until the hockey season gets started this upcoming September. I put I assigned a number to every team to a random number generator, and the first team that popped up the seahawks hockey club. So let's welcome in bills an Aboni, the head coach, and GM they. Neil, whow are you? Thanks for coming on, Bill. This is actually the second time that you've been on kind of the revamped podcast. Had you on before the end of the seasons. Not of the season is done. You have three years officially in the books for your program. How do you feel about where a team stands right now as opposed to know previous years and when you were first getting started in the Ahl? Yeah, I definitely think you know, having three years, then I think that we've established our souls of the program that's growing continuously. You know, I think moving, moving players on, advancing is, you know, has been part of the biggest thing for us and for the League, you know. So the culture of the League is really about the players and advancing those guys. So we fall into that culture pretty well and I think we're starting to establish ourselves as a program that competes, you know, every day, and if we just keep getting better, I think things will continue to grow. Any getting to know you, Bill, I know the number that you look at the closest, so the twenty nine commings that you have right now. But you've also won more games every year. You know, the first year you U Fourteen Games, up to twenty six the next year. Each year's been a progression. Last that your second season, you made the playoffs. Didn't want to playoff game, but this thirty year you made the playoffs are and you want to playoff game. Like yeah, no, you care more about the commitments at the end of the day, but you have to at one point, I guess, pay yourself in the back right to say that every year of making a step forward. Yeah, I mean I mean, it's always nice to win. You know, I think having ever returners, I think, is a big thing, you know, having guys that have played in our league and and really understand like any team can win on any given night. So I think, you know, I give a lot of credit to the guys that have been here and have tend to set the tone for new guys coming in. And you know, it's it's a different life right here three where if you do get kids from Tripoli and prep schools and so that they feel that you know they'll come in and and dominate and and that's definitely not the cave. So you know, there's a period of time where there's some humbleness going around and and then, you know, you hopefully your culture takes over to where the guys start to buy in. But yeah, I mean I think, you know, we've all worked pretty hard, from the top down and the organization and trying to get this on the right path. And you just said a key word that I wanted to discuss with you. You said culture. Every team has their own culture in this league. Can you define the seahawks culture? Accountable probably the probably the best way to say that. I mean, you know we're definitely our guys are kind of fall of suit, you know, so where now it's to the point, you know, near three were as a staff. We don't have to do too much because it gets taken care of within, which is nice. You know, guys just know what to expect. Are What we want on and off the ice anywhere, you know, especially in the winter time on the Cape. I get the small community. People know our guys walk around with their jackets on and you know we have to.

We have to do things certain way. You know, all of our guys are billeted with families like it's it's maybe it's a little tighter lifestyle, but it's definitely an organized and accountable and I wanted to talk about your culture because in reaching out to some past players of yours that are in college now, I got some testimonial some quotes from them talking about your organization in yourself in particular, and what you did to get to the next level. And a few different players use the word culture. So I'm just going to read you part of the quote from Brandon Colette. The culture coached in them, only built for the SEAHAWKS, created a unique bond throughout the players from different parts of the world to hear an alumni of yours come back and say something like that, how does that make you feel? Yeah, I mean that's the junior hockey is about and my opinion, know from my experience as a player. I mean obviously it makes you feel good to know that they gained, you know, more so life lessons right than anything else, I think, at the end of the day, and you know it's funny, right, we're in a weird recruiting world right now, but the first thing to tell people all the time, like it doesn't matter if you play in the NHL or you play club hockey at them the day we're all going to play beer league, you know. So it's who you are and what lessons that you know that you're trying to gain at this this time in your life that you can move forward on and help make you a better person. So it's it's good. I mean to hear that kind of stuff is good. I mean someone absorbed something and and for a player like Brandon Colette, he played two years for your program, the second year of particular, his last year. He was kind of part of your goaltending duo, if you will, with Dj Packson. He wasn't the clear cut number one. Dj probably played a few more games than he did, but then coming out of his freshman year he's a anyhc rookie of the on the all rookie team. So when you success story like that, and what I'm trying to say is he wasn't the CLERICOTT number one in this league, but how do you use a success story like that and tell that the future players and future recruits? Well, I think you know what it shows, right. It shows, for one, the depths of the League, you know, and it shows like the determination of guys have to have to make it to the next level and be successful. Brandon did a great job our first year as an organization like he was. He was a big reason, you know. I know it's a small number in fourteen wins, but he was a big reason why we got some of those wins. And then the second year, you know, he got he was kind of put on the back burner with an injury and DJ got, you know, really hot and it was he was already committed. So it was you kind of have to play that, you know, the right morals. What you got to do right, play the right guy who needs to get committed. We got guy committed that might be injured and he just like that, the adversity that he battled through to overcome the injury, to, you know, to become like it was unreal. To see the transformation from him and year one, two, year two, where he wasn't playing this much, and to see him as a teammate and kind of doing like, you know, falling into everything that we preach and to see his work pay an off for him now at the Collegian level is it's awesome. It's what you want for every every one of your kids. And he was a returner, of course, so fast according to now. You know, you talked about return as already, how keen they are from you a year your commitments are huge also, but you know we're when did you start talking about the players from this past year's team about returning for next year? When does that conversation begin after a seasons over? You know, I mean, I think the biggest thing as you focus on the now, because that's what we can control, and you know, once the season is over and then you know, then you figure out a plan for the future. You know, and we were really young last year so we could have had a ton of...

...returners and we're trying to move move some of those guys onto higher level juniors if we can, and if they can't, then they know that, they know they have a home with us. We're all players and that's what's really cool is all the coaches are league played at pretty high levels and I think it'd be wrong for us to not allow those guys to pursue that opportunity in their life, you know. So that's probably step one, and then step two is, you know, I you know, do we want to come back? Did you enjoy it? You know, deal like the livelihood? Did you like the guys, stuff like that, the culture, and I mean guys that played fifteen games right like they still want to come back here. So to me that's, you know, the Camar out of the group. That's the the family bonding that we you know, that we try to do with our guys and that shows that, you know, they want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Do you feel like you ever have to re sell the program to returning players at all? No, not at all. Know, we've been really lucky. I mean we have, you know, like I said, we have guys, you know, they want to come back here, they want to be a part of it. You know John We just had John Murphy for his third year juniors and you know, after his first year here was coach Makish and Green Bay invited him to come the main camp and he ushl and I mean he just came back. He knew he was going to be a d three player. You know, he just knew where he was and part of that is is we're very black and white here with our guys and things kind of speak for themselves. Right the guys play and speak for the cells. So they know where they where they sit and and I think it puts them in a better spot to be successful down the road. And that was a name I wanted to talk about at some point. John Murphy, and a three year veteran for your team. I got to talk with him at the All Star Week that we had and he talked a lot about how you always think about the players first as a coach, and Trevor Vent a class that in his quote also. He truly has a players first mindset. I know what that means. I know you know what that means. A lotop those knows what that means at home. But how do you define a player's first mindset? I mean just bite me right like again, like I go back to, you know, being a player and being in the situation when I was. You know, their age and their shoes and you know the pressure that it's twenty year old fields, you know, going into their last year with no college commitment or and at the end of the day, like their kids, like you gotta as a coach, I think it's really important that you got to show them that you're having fun with them so they can have fun with you and you know, usually you get at least the best out of that kid to make it, you know, so they're reaching a higher potential than the maybe they even thought. But I think the biggest thing is like needs, like our need is not from win, you know, don't take this wrong way, as a league, but you know, it's not the win. Mahrol championship are. Our biggest thing is to make sure guys get what they need to benefit their past. I mean that's you know, that's it the end of the day. That's how we want to run our program and I think that's a great point, because I wanted to ask this. I know we've talked about it a little bit before, but I've always just been blown away a little bit by how tough John Murphy is, like he'll play his yeah, he'll put his face in front of a shot to block it, like he truly and yeah, I was there the day that his season ended with that injury and it was tough. It was tough to watch. First and fullers from ours. But after that, the next day he commits, but then he doesn't go well, but he never went home. He stayed with your team the entire time. was there. Even I thought to maybe had home and when he said no, coach, I'm staying and through the rest of this. How that make you feel? Yeah, I mean it. This, I mean again at this shows the culture of what guys want to you...

...know, they want to be around it, and shows, you know, how much a lot like it meant a lot to him to see the team have success this year, just because, I mean, like, you know, he's been through it at the start. He's been through it, you know, and every step of the way is you know as much as I have. You know, and I mean he's been a huge part of building this thing up and, you know, kind of set in the foundation for our culture. So, you know, he's a kid that I've told him, you know, the amount of gratitude that we have for him to trust in US and, you know, understand and believe and what we're trying to do. And I mean, you know he's he's a guy that will have a big part of this program move it forward. You know, as we follow him in the college drinks and I'm sure if Stuey courtland's ever near you guys are probably going to have to go watch him play. Yeah, I mean, you know what, it's kind of funny because, you know, we still, I watch a lot of division three games on a computer because they're free to watch, you know, and it's this fun to support the guys that have that have played here and talk to him after Games and, you know, just keep that relationship going. And you touching this a little bit at the very beginning of the PODCAST, but recruiting this offseason, this has to first and foremost be probably the most the unique recruiting plan you never had to come up with. Yeah, it's definitely different. You know, we're obviously it's fortunate that we have video and technology and doing that kind of stuff and now we're trying to you know, you got to use it to the to the most of your ability every day. But and you know, nowadays at the players, you know, communication is not the it's not on the top of their priority list. So you know, you got to really be resilient and work hard for it and, you know, I think I think our league is as a good job of that, like I think the coaches do a good job and and that's how I know that, you know, we're still staying healthy and moving forward. How hard do you have to stay on a kid in an offseason like this if you truly want to be a part of your team? You know, I don't know. I I don't know how much pushing you do. I think the biggest thing is a lot of people have, you know, so many there's so many uncertainties right then and you just kind of kind of take it as it comes and you know, just kind of build a relationship rather than, you know, pushing them to the team. Just kind of check in and do that kind of stuff, and eventually they're going to make their own decision anyway. And you want guys that want to be in your program you know, whether whether they're got that scored a hundred goals or I got that scored fifteen, you're going to get the most of the guys I want to be with you. So that's kind of the approach that we've been taking here. If there's ever a player that kind of has like a wishywashy type conversation with you and you don't feel that full commitment from his end, you kind of just hang up the phone and cross him off the list. Yeah, I mean we've gotten to that point, I think, in the last week. You know, we just say, okay, you know, we just at this time we don't feel like we'd be the right program for you. And it's nothing negative, you know, it's there's a lot of research that can be done, there's communications that could be done. You know, we're we do too, is we offer guys that were recruiting to talk to players that have been through our program. You know, and I think hearing it from a guy that's gone through it on the daytoday basis is is a huge avenue to learn Rasan here from coaches. I mean there's a million junior teams out there and they probably he'll hear a lot of the thing stuff all the time. So some of your stuff is going in one year and out the other, you know. So I think a big portion is that is you know, talk to a player that's been through it. You get their side of the story of the UPS, the downs and between and and you know, if you don't get...

...that kind of effort on a players and then you know, I don't know how much the the want is there to be here. Well, that's an interesting way to have the players kind of learn a different perspective. Also, do you also ever have a player reached out to your assistant coach, Lj fellows, played in this league and all the Leagu's change a little bit it since he played in the League, but he won an ehl championship in this league. Yeah, yeah, I mean he's he's been a great asset through this, you know, through this pandemic that we're in. And you know his he went. He you don't want to college hockey. He he's becoming a barstool police officer. So I mean he's literally came in as a player, went through his college and now coming back to the community where he's from and becoming a police officer. I mean he's kind of taken, you know, the path that you know that we try to get our players on. You know, find a really good d through home, getting an education, you know, and enjoyed the game because you love to play it and and find a way to get something out of it. So, yeah, he's been awesome and guys definitely have been reaching out to him continuously throughout the spring here and finding that d three pass is obviously the biggest key. Your and say comments of the biggest key. As I mentioned, you have twenty nine commits overall total as of right now. But when he really focused in on the agel players, I'm sure you know that that percentage is pretty high. But you know, when you actually circle, how many you move on from you to year? Your one eleven of twelve. Here, two nine of twelve. This year, seven commits so far, but it's going to be nine of nine. That e was up almost ninety percent of your agel players. What do you cudit that to and do you have to pay yourself out on the back a little bit? No, I don't think we're. You know, I think I mean that's US doing our job, you know, for the kids. I mean that you know they're you paid a play hockey in ear league and our job as coaches is to make sure that, you know, we're doing our job. But I give a lot of credit to the players because you know they have to go through the process and you don't take the time out. These are big decisions to kids. That's you know, they can come to a junior team and and not like getting maybe go somewhere else or after a year, to you know, change teams and leagues or whatever. But you know, you make that college to him, you're hopefully making decision for the next four years your life. So you know, it's our job to kind of listen to them, see what they want, you know, and help narrow things down and give them maybe some different options. And then, you know, it's sitting out with MOMS and DADS and finding out financially, you know, how low can we get prices to and where can we move on things? And, as I was saying, there are seven of nine, could be not of nine. So obviously the commitments kind of paste themselves throughout the year. Some kids want to commit fast or some other kids want to, you know, sit in a way their options. How do you have all those separate conversations, knowing that literally every story's different. Oh Yeah, and and you know kids, kids are so different, right, like CJ Klein, who committed to Milwaukee School Engineering, I mean had offers out of the gate and was so in this ice of on things, you know. And you get a guy like Pat O'Neil, who knew, you know, he was excited about Norwich coming into the year. They talked to him last year and he knew as soon as he got his offer, he that's where he was going to school. So, you know, again it's that relationship to bill with players like you can sit I can sit down, you know, with CJ for the first three months of the year just laugh about it. It No, you know, confident in our in ourselves, of the staff and him as a player that you know, we know we're going to get something done. We just, you know, we need to sit down like air pros and cons and I mean, yeah, I mean it's just you got to take the time and invest in the kids, you know, and talk in it is, you know, you do have to talk to mom and dad and you got to make sure that... know, hopefully your kids that are going to school or they're for the right reason, which is to get a degree and play at the highest level they can play. And I noticed with your commits it feels like the kids are going with a want to go. Not that teams in our league push kids in a certain direction, but over the years I've seen a few pipelines develop right like the little flyers for years and number of kids to UTICA and as a couple other examples like that. For your commitments, it just feels like a mixed bag of mixed variety. Do you kind of leave that up to them to bring the options to you, or is that it kind of a credit to your network of d three coaches? Well, probably a little bit of both. You know, I think I'm fortunate to have grown up out here, old East and played, you know, played out here, but then obviously playing juniors and college hockey in the Midwest and playing pro kindal all over. You know, your network grows and actual like personal relationships grow. So I think that's part of it. You know. I think the other part of it too is we like our location is a lot different than most of the teams in our league where, you know, we don't have ten or fifteen kids from Massachusetts playing on the cave. So our kids are coming from all over, which to me is great for junior hockey because it helps you. You know, you're around different guys right different, different upbringings, different, you know, this different all the way around and helped you mature. So I think that's probably another big reason, is that we do have kids from all over and you know, they all have different aspirations, and I mean you know are one of our biggest guys last year who didn't commit was DJ Paxson. He committed and now is in the Marines in Alaska. You know what I mean, like so it's not like guys, they just have different paths and you just have to support them, you know. I mean, at the end of the day, that's their life. It's on ours. We've already had our chance to do all this stuff is players. It's just it's very unique to see where all your kids end up. From Castleton, L Myra, Becker, Northland College. You mentioned msoe for seas a client, Norwich for Pat O'Neil. It's a great variety of different destinations for your players. And then you have a kid like Dj Paxson, who we've talked about in this podcast. Was a phenomenal goalie and now he's in the Marines. So he's he's found a path for life at that point and that's a lot of credit to you. And now with the last topics they wanted to talk about, I kind of gave you a little bit of a preview so I didn't catch you too much off guard with half of the topic, but I'm going to catch you a little bit off guard with the first half. Obviously I've mentioned you have you've had three years in the League and you've you see a lot of players come in out of your Jeoris, but obviously a lot of players are on the League as well. Are there any players that you've you've gone up against on teams in the League and you're like I want a kid like that on my team in the future. Yeah, I mean I think every I think almost every team in our league as a guy like that, you know, which speaks highly of the league. But yeah, I don't know if if there's just one. You know, I think if I had to pick one from this past year it would probably be the kid off of the Rangers, Rickett, who's also in Norwich commit just you know, physical presence, gold touch, you know, around the net, stuff like that. He would probably be a guy that I would I would take on my team any day of the week. Okay, well, if if I was playing against Norwich next year in Rickett and O'Neil are on the same line, I would ask the coach of I could skip that shift because with those two players there's settle, there's similar physical style of play. It would just not be fun to match up against. But Yeah,...

...sorry, I'm meant to cut you off. No, yeah, I agree a hundred percent. Yeah, so the other part of this topic that I did give you a little bit of a preview force. I didn't catch it too much off guard. I'm going to do this with every guy over the course of this summer. As I've mentioned multiple times, you got three years experience in this league, three sets of rosters that choose from. If you were heading into over time of a finals game or a playoff game right now. Can I get your seahawks starting lineup? Three fowards to D and a goalie can come from any of the three years. Yeah, I mean up brought. I would have Trevor Ven a clause and I would have John Murphy and Pad O'Neal. So those would be my three folds. My to D would be John Ban of ITT and CJ Kleine. And this the biggest controversy was our goaltending, because you know, and I'm not hopefully don't come off arrogant anyway, but three years we've had three years of really good goaltending here. I would I would say coals would be our number one, just because you played on the team with fourteen wins and the numbers were great and a lot of those games we won was because of him and Packson. So I would say Colette. Well, that lot, I think it if you're in Caulis, you know, and that lot of Legit, like I talked about. I talked about the physical presence, if you will, if you go up against a ricky and I ohneil combined together, Danovitz and Kline are like a pair of twins. Puis. Yeah, and he got to courtland commits on there and then I claus and John Murphy and then, as we mentioned, onneil going to Norwich. And you're right, you've had a lot of success in gold from Garton Colette to Dj Packson to this past year. Yet Tristan Hadley and Philip slider. And Yeah, I know you'd love to have Hadley back next year, but yeah, much credit to you give to a guy like slider who at one point of the year kind of similar to the Colette Packs in here right. Paxson probably was the number one, Hallie was probably the number one, but slider was a big reason. You Want Your first playoff game. Yeah, yeah, I mean he he was probably the biggest student of the game that we had in that and you know, coming from he was our first ear Peean Oi that we've had here in three Yors, you know. So it was it was a great experience when he was on. He was on and he kind of started to get really hot towards the end and he got flue. or so. He came in in game two against the wizards and hasn't played. You know, you didn't play in three weeks and heways. I mean you think you were that that game? He was unreal. Yeah, I mean it's just it's been a special three years for your program and I think what will be exciting to watch in year four for you guys. As you know, shortly after you get things started you'll hit the seventy five wind mark as a program as I mentioned, you got two more commits coming this year, so you're going to cross over the thirty mark and not not to pump your tires too much their bill, but I've watched you do this in what you said yourself is a very unique location. And the one last last question I had to ask you. As you know, by being in the Cape, you're a bus trip to everyone. Is there extra value in that, like what benefits do you get out of that? Just being with the boys? You know, haven't building relationships, and I mean that's the end of the day, like that's the best part of this thing. You know, seeing these guys come together and you know... the laps and stuff that you here and jokes you here on the bus drive is I don't know, to me it brings you back as a player. You don't know, great, that might my back and probably do with I'll being on a bus all the time, but but it's just it's comical, you know, and and again it brings you back to being a kid, you know, being being on those trips and and just enjoy being a hockey players. For some of these guys, like this is the only time in their life where they can be as close to a prockey player as they'll ever get, you know, and to see those guys build those relationships and now keep them, like now that we're three years old. So we have guys all over, but you know, now seeing, you know, Band Amos and collect down and Nashville would Niclaus, because that's reach. We don't visit in the summer and that's the stuff that's really cool to see the guys keep in touch and really still be a part of each other's lives. That's awesome. Well, Hey, I appreciate you, but you being the first team of the week and what is a unique offseason, so I hope that you could continue to stay safe here. I hope they're recruiting goes well and we'll talk to you soon. Thanks Bill. Yeah, thanks for having thanks for listening to the e show. Learn more at Eastern Hockey League Dot Org and follow us on Facebook, twitter, instagram and Youtube. Also, be sure to subscribe and get notified when next week's PODCAST is released.

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