On Sunday, March 24, 2019, the New England Wolves officially closed the book on the 2018-19 season. As a nearly 40 year old man, who's been coaching for what seems like a lifetime, this season has brought a new appreciation for the business of coaching and the landscape we are in. The season finished in an EHLP Championship for our program, the first in Wolves History.
Tier III Jr hockey and recruiting in that marketplace is a multi-year, 24 hour a day job. It requires patience, a thick-skin, perseverance, and an understanding that no player you acquire is going to be a finished product. There is a significant cost in both dollars and man-hours to acquire these players. The players that take the leap of faith in signing with your program should be committed to improvement. You as an organization, also, need to be committed to providing the pathway for them to improve, as improvement is essential to becoming a finished product that can be recruited to a college hockey program.
This season alone the Wolves EHLP team (which went 36-10) had 6 kids quit… for reasons that included “I’m really homesick”, “I really value my sleep”, and “My mom thinks my injury is pretty serious”. Additionally, I traded away another 4 players, mostly due to discipline and culture issues, as I felt that their presence in the locker room (saying racially bigoted speech, immaturity, bullying) either had or was having a negative impact on our teams ability to be successful.
We define our program as comprehensive. At the Wolves, players each have skills in the morning, followed by a workout and video and then a second team practice later that day. It’s work, but it’s the fastest way for us to help our players become successful. Moreover, they have access to college credits, weekly “Peak Performance Counseling Sessions”, and a Volunteer program that provides each year to the Lakes Region of NH over 1000 man hours of community service and to date has raised over 80k for the Cure Starts Now Foundation. This formula has paid off with… in the last 4 seasons (EHL- 2017-18/ 2018-19 & EHLP 2017-18/ 2018-19) we’ve made the playoffs in 3 of those seasons, and put over 20 kids into College Hockey, including one into Pro Hockey.
Being in Laconia, NH isn’t like being in Philadelphia, New York or Boston… our population of 15,000 people makes us the largest town within a 50 mile radius. When players walk down the street, our residents know the Wolves. Our home playoff games each had several hundred people in the building, and the championship game at Providence College was well attended by “Wolves Nation”. Fans gave up their weekend to drive to Providence to support our boys, which is truly remarkable.
As we approach the time of tryouts and showcases, when recruiting for your rosters really heats up, I implore all Junior Hockey players and parents to do a few things. Players, look at yourself in the mirror. If you can’t accept the fact that the pathway to college hockey is a ladder and not an elevator… that you have to earn to advance, then maybe you’re just kidding yourself and you need to go play a recreational level of hockey. If someone is in your ear, telling you they can get you there faster, maybe they aren’t being honest with you. Parents, "quitting" used to be a bad word. I don’t know when this changed, but I still think quitting doesn’t make life easier.
Congrats to our 2018-19 EHLP New England Wolves. You learned that winning requires dedication, commitment, and that you are going to have to overcome obstacles to get what you want. That resistance and pain are temporary, you can push through those and become tougher on the other side. You learned the harder you work the better you become. That addition by subtraction is a REAL mathematical formula sometimes.
You brought a championship to the small town of Laconia, NH. You earned it. I am proud of all the great young men and parents of all the players who finished their seasons in New England Wolves sweaters for the 2018-19 season. Thank you as well to Laconia. Keep going as great things ahead.
- Andrew Trimble