As a writer, the voice recorder fills up with incredible quotes and insights from coaches and players across the league. Often there isn’t enough content to use for a full feature article. So, throughout the season I’ll be dropping articles featuring quotes and insight from post game press conferences and weekly media availability. Since these interviews take place via Zoom, they will be called “Zoom Notes”.
The first installment of Zoom Notes features Chicago Wolves Head Coach Ryan Warsofsky and forward David Cotton.
On Tanner Jeannot
Thus far, rookies like Seth Jarvis and Phil Tomasino have really shown up this season for the Chicago Wolves. However, there is one veteran who has been a staple to the Wolves success: Tanner Jeannot.
With four games under his Wolves belt, Jeannot is already scoring at a point per game pace. Although, It is not his ability to score that is making him a threat this season. According to Coach Warsofsky, it’s all in the details. “His (Jeannot) play on the wall, his forecheck capabilities. He hunts pucks on the forecheck really well,” he explained, “Obviously he’s tough and tough to play against. He creates space for his linemates.”
Warsofsky kept the list of attributes going while he explained why Jeannot earned a spot with the leadership core this season. “He lives the right lifestyle to be a professional hockey player and it’s good for those young guys to see that.”
He then ended the list with one of the best things a coach could say about a player, stating that Jeannot “is probably the one player…the reason why we are 4-0 is because of him”
Only One Game in Eight Days?
To start the season, the Wolves played four games in the span of a week. The second week of the season holds one game in eight days.
When we asked David Cotton about the upcoming break, he chuckled a bit and said, “Luckily for me, we’ve had about 10 months of practice with that.” Cotton also knows that it’s not a true break. There is still one game and a handful of practices to be had during those eight days. “We need to just come to the rink and put our work in,” explained Cotton, “Just be ready to play the next game.”
Coach Warsofsky noted the importance of having this break at the beginning of the season. “I know we have extra bodies, but there is a rotation of the lineup we have gone through. Now it’s time to reset mentally, catch our breath, and get to work,” he explained.
Even though the team is off to a hot start, it doesn’t mean there aren’t things the Wolves need to work on during this break. Warsofsky noted that, ”Playing consistently a little bit better without the puck is probably going to be an area of emphasis.”
The Dual Affiliation is Coming Along Nicely
One of the challenges Coach Warsofsky was tasked with at the start of the season was molding two teams into one, harboring the NHL prospects for both the Carolina Hurricanes and Nashville Predators. Luckily for the organization, the would-be Milwaukee Admirals skaters and newly-affiliated Chicago Wolves have already begun to melt together. “The biggest thing for me is we have two affiliations and we’ve become one team. That has been the best sight to see,” Warsofsky said while beaming with pride, “Whether it’s on the bench or it’s in the dressing room or it’s a practice day, you would never know there are two organizations here.”
All season long, Warsofsky has really hit home that it doesn’t really matter that there are two organizations playing as one. “At the end of the day, we are one team — the Chicago Wolves — and we are going to try to win every game that we play.”
The Penalty Kill
On Saturday, February 6, the Rockford IceHogs showed the weakness in the Wolves penalty kill by scoring three power play goals in the first half of the game. Ever since then, the Wolves PK has been more aggressive and have almost perfectly executed their plays. So, why the slow start on the kill for the Wolves?
Coach Warsofsky thinks the PK’s slow start stems from the fact there are a lot of new faces on the team. “I think the biggest thing is, coming from Charlotte, we had two, three guys who came here to play this system that we play,” explained Warsofsky, “So, it takes some time to learn it.”
He also explained this wasn’t the first time one of his team’s struggled with learning the penalty kill. It took the Charlotte Checkers a few games to get used to the system when Warsofsky introduced it to them a few years ago.
Assistant Coach Pat Dwyer runs the PK for the Wolves and speaks to Warsofsky often about improvements. “We talk a lot about it because we think it’s really important,” explained Warsofsky, “We think the PK is a momentum shift in a hockey game.”
As we all know, having control of momentum makes winning games a lot easier.
Importance of Emotional Control
There is no love lost between any of the teams in the Central Division. Every game is full of aggressive hits and sassiness. Some players, like David Cotton, thrive in games full of chippiness. “It gets you invested in the game emotionally,” he explained, “Whenever it’s dead and there is not much body contact out there, it’s a different style of play. Whenever there’s collisions all over the place, you just have to be on your toes more.”
Depending on what’s happening during the game, tempers could flare causing the game to veer from its intended path. According to Warsofsky, the key to not derailing the game is to maintain emotional control.
To end this installment of Zoom Notes, I’m going to lead you out with a quote from Coach Warsofsky on the identity of the Wolves this season.
“I think it’s our team identity, really. We have a team full of competitors. Each guy brings a little something different.
We want to play with controlled emotion. We say it all the time.
I want guys to get fired up.
I want guys to have some emotion.
I want guys to want to be on the ice who want to have the puck
who want to play in certain situations.
That’s what drives competitive people and that’s what drives winners.
We have no problem playing that style of hockey and that’s what we look forward to and that’s what we’re built for. So we saw that tonight; we’ve really seen it all year .
We’re not going to get pushed around. We’re going to have each others back, mainly because we have great emotion in our game. Controlled emotion, hopefully, but something that we talked about is we want team toughness. I think we bring that really every shift.”
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