August 23, 2013 – Selecting which players will make the team is always hard. Just ask Team Canada. Even with the best talent in the world, they often struggle to find the winning formula.
What does that have to do with North Vancouver Minor Hockey? Well for one, it highlights the difficulty of finding a team within a disparate group of individual players, no matter what the age or skill levels of the players are. The biggest challenge in rep team selection always seems to be this: should the best raw talent be chosen, or should team balance and depth be the main concern?
With rep tryouts now underway, North Vancouver MHA Director of Hockey Operations Dan Cioffi is happy to let the independent evaluators do their job – giving the association an unbiased view of player talent – but he knows it still falls upon the coaches to select and build teams that are both capable of on ice success while also being positive environment for long term player development.
“We were able to bring in some good young coach with a lot of passion,” said Cioffi. “Our goal for our coaches is the same as for our players; we want to mentor the coaches who will in turn mentor the players.”
When is comes to player selection, talent is important, but for Cioffi, it is even more important to identify players who can buy into a team-first mentality.
“Coming from Junior hockey, you always evaluate players based on how they are going to fit into a role, but minor hockey is different because all of your players are going to play on a regular basis,” said Cioffi. “We’re looking for kids with good character, good work ethic, who are good teammates and show commitment to playing within a team environment.”
North Vancouver Minor Hockey has noticeably shifted the focus of its rep program over the last five from one that tried to push elite players into the bantam draft towards building teams with more emphasis on depth and scoring by committee, and this emphasis on team development is now beginning to pay dividends for the association.
“I think we had a good season last year across all the rep teams,” said Cioffi. “Going into this season we’re going to try to build on that. Lots of players experienced success last year, either winning their flight or the President’s Series banner, or teams found success by winning a tournament.”
Perhaps the best performance amongst the rep teams came from the Midget A1 team who won a Flight 1 league title with an 11W-4L-3T record. While the players returning to the Midget A1 team should make them a strong contender once again, Cioffi added that there is a lot of talent to choose from at the Peewee and Bantam groups.
“It’s hard to say right now, but just looking at some of the growth over the summer by those players it will be very interesting to see how those two groups unfold,” said Cioffi.
BC Hockey Hub was at Harry Jarome Arena in North Vancouver on Friday as some of those Peewee players auditioned for the rep team.
It will be a tough lineup to crack. Here’s a look at last year’s top peewee rep squad (video uploaded by Coach Ghuman)