Friday, March 31, 2023

Three Helpful Tips for a First-Time Youth Hockey Coach

 James Giacin is a well-respected hockey player and coach who was inducted into the St. Louis Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019. With a wealth of experience paying at the collegiate and professional levels, James Giacin has also served as head coach for the St. Louis Junior Blues Team until 1997.

As a coach, it is important to be able to effectively supervise a team during practices and games, choose game strategies, and decide which players will participate in the game. For beginner coaches, this can be a daunting task, but there are several tips that can help ensure success.

One of the most important things a beginner coach can do is get to know the players on their team. Building a strong bond with players allows a coach to understand their strengths and weaknesses and identify their individual needs in order to help them become better players. It is also important for a coach to prepare for the season ahead by establishing playing strategies, setting goals and guidelines for the team, and making sure that players have the proper equipment for practice sessions. This demonstrates organization and helps players work towards their individual and team goals.

Another helpful tip for beginner coaches is to outline plans for practice sessions. This includes start times for practices, how to organize the rink, the goals to be achieved at each session, and the preferred warmups and drills for each session. It is also important to make practices immersive and engaging in order to motivate and challenge players.

Friday, March 24, 2023

How to Train as a Hockey Player

 James Giacin is a hockey coach based in St. Louis, Missouri. He is an alumnus of St. Lawrence University in New York and began playing hockey while in college. After earning his degree in 1993, St. Louis resident James Giacin played professionally for 3 years before transitioning to coaching.

Training for hockey requires one to develop strength, mobility, and speed. The sport requires a high level of physical fitness and puts a lot of demand on the body, increasing the risk of injury. Players may need to train more frequently depending on their age, experience level, and specific training goals.

A key aspect of training for hockey is prehabilitation, or prehab, which involves exercises and body movements that address weakness in the body to prevent future injuries. To improve strength and speed, players should focus on exercises that target the legs, such as lunges, squats, and leg curls. Upper body strength can be improved through exercises like bench press, chin-ups, and hammer curls. In addition, incorporating mobility exercises at the end of a training session can help improve balance, flexibility, and overall performance on the ice. By following a well-rounded training regime, players can improve their skills and reduce their risk of injury.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

A Look Back at the Los Angeles Kings' 1989 Draft Class

 Since joining the National Hockey League (NHL) in 1967, the Los Angeles Kings have made the playoffs 31 times, won two Stanley Cups, and drafted great players like Butch Goring (1969), Bernie Nicholls (1980), Luc Robitiaille (1984), Rob Blake (1988), and Anze Kopitar (2005). Los Angeles has had many successful drafts throughout its history, but the 1989 NHL Draft was not one of them.

The Kings finished the 1988-89 regular season with 91 points and reached the playoffs before losing in the NHL Divisional Finals. Los Angeles had 12 picks in the 12-round draft the following offseason, but went without its first-round pick. The Western Conference franchise dealt its first-round picks in 1989, 1991, and 1993, along with Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, and $15 million in cash, to the Edmonton Oilers in return for Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley, and Mike Krushelnyski. Only three of Los Angeles' 12 picks in 1989 made the NHL, playing just 205 career games combined. Four of the players the Kings drafted in 1988 and 1990, by comparison, played at least 989 career NHL games.

With its first pick, 39th overall in the second round, the Kings selected defenseman Brent Thompson from the Medicine Hat Tigers of the Western Hockey League (WHL). The most successful of Los Angeles' 12 picks in the draft, Thompson scored one goal and added 10 assists in 121 career regular season games. He also recorded 352 penalty minutes. Thompson played parts of three seasons with the Kings and later played for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes. He has been coaching since the 2003-04 season and is now head coach of the American Hockey League's (AHL) Bridgeport Sound Tigers.

The Kings selected defenseman Jim Maher from the University of Illinois-Chicago with its next pick, 81st overall in the fourth round. Neither Maher nor the team's next four picks (Eric Ricard, Tom Newman, Daniel Rydmark, and Ted Kramer) played in the NHL.

Sean Whyte, drafted by the Kings 165th overall in the eighth round of the draft, played a combined 21 games with Los Angeles in the 1991-92 and 1992-93 seasons. He later played in the AHL, International Hockey League (IHL), and Central Hockey League (CHL). Los Angeles then selected Jim Giacin (Culver Military Academy) and Martin Maskarinec (Sparta Praha) with its next two picks, but neither of these players made the NHL.

Jim Hiller, the only other player the Kings selected to play in the NHL, recorded 20 points in 63 games with the Kings, Detroit Red Wings, and New York Rangers. He had 12 points in 40 games for the Kings as a rookie in 1992-93. Hillier has been coaching since 2002-03 and joined the Kings coaching staff as an assistant for the 2022-23 season after three seasons as an assistant with the Islanders.

Los Angeles also drafted Steve Jacques (Tri-City Americans) and Kevin Sneddon (Harvard University) in 1989. The Quebec Nordiques had the first overall pick in the draft and selected Swedish center Mats Sundin, who went on to record 1,349 points in 1,346 career regular season games. Four other players (Stu Barnes, Bill Guerin, Bobby Holik, and Mike Sillinger) drafted in the first round played at least 1,000 games in the NHL.

Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame 2022 Inductees

 Headquartered in St. Charles, Missouri, the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame (SLAHHOF) is an organization that honors those who have helped grow the sport of ice hockey in St. Louis and surrounding areas. Its inaugural class of inductees in 2008 included players Mark Smith and David Bates, as well as Bud Stege (coach), Charles Busenhart (coach), Eddie Olson (coach), Herman Kriegshauser (administrator), Tom Hurster (administrator), Bill McKenna (referee), and James Jost Sr. (builder).

The SLAHHOF hosted its 14th induction ceremony on Saturday, August 20, at the St. Charles Convention Center. The six-member class included four players (Dan Herr, Brandon Bollig, Neil Komadoski, Aaron Vickar), referee Jim Kehm, and builder Tom Zimmerman. A graduate of Hazelwood Central High School, Herr played roller hockey in his youth and won five gold medals at nationals. Herr later coached ice hockey in St. Louis for three decades.

Bollig, a 35-year-old native of St. Charles who played for the Triple-A Blues, spent two seasons with St. Lawrence University before beginning his pro career with the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League (AHL) in 2009-10. Bollig made his National Hockey League (NHL) debut with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2011-12 and played parts of three seasons with the team, winning a Stanley Cup in 2013. He also spent two seasons with the Calgary Flames. Bollig recorded an NHL career-best 14 points with the Blackhawks in 2013-14. He announced his retirement in 2019 after two more seasons in the AHL.

Bollig wasn't able to attend the ceremony, but recalled memories of growing up playing hockey in the St. Louis area in a video shot beforehand. He remembers standing in the line in an "old-school" rink and sorting through hand-me-down ice hockey equipment: "To think starting there and ultimately ending and realizing that I was able to accomplish a childhood dream is an honor. And the fact that it's recognized here means a lot to me."

Komadoski is a veteran of 502 career NHL regular season games who was born in Canada but later played for the St. Louis Blues. He made his NHL debut with the Los Angeles Kings in 1972-73 and spent six seasons with the team before joining the Blues in 1977-78. Komadoski recorded 25 points in 124 career regular season games with the Blues. His son, Neil Jr., was drafted by the Ottawa Senators and is now a scout for the Vancouver Canucks.

Vickar, born in St. Louis in 1976, played two seasons of college hockey each with the University of North Dakota and Lake Forest College. The 6-foot-1 goaltender last played for the Missouri River Kings of the United Hockey League in 2001-02.

Selected to the SLAHHOF in the builder category, Zimmerman helped save the Meramec Sharks hockey program from bankruptcy and grow it into the regional power it is today. He also led a high school program to win four state championships in six years and has helped grow the sport in St. Louis for more than five decades.

Kehm, meanwhile, refereed his first game while still playing youth hockey in St. Louis and later worked as a referee in the Central Hockey League. He also refereed a handful of NHL games.

Wednesday, March 1, 2023

St. Lawrence University Alumni Who Played in the NHL


Founded in 1925, the men's ice hockey team at St. Lawrence University has a decorated history that includes playing in two NCAA national championship games and winning seven conference tournament titles, the most recent of which occurred in 2021. Known as the Saints, the team has also produced 25 players who have gone on to play in at least one National Hockey League (NHL) game.

Gary Croteau is the most accomplished former Saint in the NHL based on both total games played, goals, and assists. Croteau leads all St. Lawrence alumni with 144 goals and 175 assists for 319 points in 684 career NHL regular season games. Crouteau recorded 105 points through three seasons with the Saints from 1965-68 and played for six teams, including the Los Angeles Kings and California Golden Seals, through 12 seasons in the NHL. Croteau had a career-best season in 1976-77, recording 51 points in 78 games with the Colorado Rockies.

Rich Peverley ranks second among St. Lawrence alumni in points in the NHL. Peverley spent four seasons with the Saints and registered 42 points in 41 games as a senior in 2003-04. He played three seasons in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL) and American Hockey League (AHL) before making his NHL debut with the Nashville Predators in 2006-07. Peverley later played for the Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, and Dallas Stars. He finished his NHL career with 84 goals and 157 assists for 241 points in 442 career games. He also had 21 points in 59 playoff games.

Jamie Baker and Eric Lacroix are the only two other former Saints to record at least 100 points in the NHL. Baker made his NHL debut with the Quebec Nordiques in the 1989-90 season and recorded 150 points in 404 career games with the Nordiques, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks, and Toronto Maple Leafs. Lacroix, meanwhile, was a seventh-round draft pick of the Maple Leafs in 1990 who went on to record 137 points in 472 games with Toronto, Los Angeles, the Colorado Avalanche, New York Rangers, and Ottawa.

Gary Laskoski is one of four goaltenders who played for the Saints to make the NHL and leads all goalies in games played with 59. Laskoski played 46 games for the Kings during the 1982-83 season and finished the year with a win-loss-tie record of 15-20-4 to go along with a 4.56 goals-against average (GAA) and .857 save percentage. Mike McKenna, who ranks second with 35 games played, was the last former Saint to appear in an NHL game. He started one game for the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2018-19 season.

Defenseman Gavin Beyreuther was the only St. Lawrence alumni on an NHL roster to begin the 2022-23 season. A native of Canaan, New Hampshire, Bayreuther recorded at least 17 points in each of his four seasons with the Saints and began his pro career with the Texas Stars of the AHL in 2016-17. He had 14 points in 71 career regular season games entering the 2022-23 season, his third with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Other notable former Saints who played in the NHL include Brandon Bollig, Kevin O'Shea, Kent Carlson, John Zeiler, and David Saunders.

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency Responsibilities

  A managing director at an investment firm in St. Louis, Missouri, James Giaicin leads strategic initiatives to raise capital for insuranc...