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Greg,, I don't come on a board to dress anyone down nor did I feel I came anywhere close to doing that and am sorry if I somehow offended you or anyone else. I am just stating a fact that fans, like we all are, can get carried away with micro managing from the stands about our home team to a point that it gets like a growing cancer of disdain towards particular players who really do not deserve that degree of criticism. Everyone on this team has made lots of mistakes game after game. I could point out mistakes Schneider has made, Sova has made, and Mele has made, as well as with the rest of the players both here and gone. And much of it has been a result of the other teams having a deeper resource of talent that can force those mistakes. In the Schneider incident you mention with the bad pass, there also was a player who I will not mention that fumbled that pass onto the opponents stick. And I don't name the player because it is moot. It was all an error, a breakdown, a bad play, a play they wish they had back, and yet also a good forechecking goal by the opponent. But gosh darn this team is coming alive now and backbiting some mistakes just serve no purpose. I have never seen a goal overturned because fans complained about a mistake or because a player hung his head low enough. And you are correct, Bremner will handle mistakes. He handles many mistakes every game and will continue to do so. And he is changing the tone and tempo of the games. Its not going to be mistake free. As we saw in the rubber match with Pensacola, there will be some more losses. But damn wasn't that a thrilling game. But back to the point,, you used your accolades to give me a little dressing down so let me say just for information purposes only that I have 51 years of experience in ice hockey and actively played 15 years. And yet I will admit that does not make me perfect on what I see on the ice or how I weigh it. I too have to temper myself down when seeing mistakes. What I try to keep in mind is that mistakes can happen and thus they will happen at times. And you are correct, Bremner will handle mistakes. He handles many mistakes every game and he will continue to coach against bad play and as well coach for good play. And I like what he is doing. Now as to the Captain situation,, and about who wears the C. In hockey, the team captain might not be close to being considered the best player on the team. Very frequently in hockey, the team captain is not the best skater, or the best scorer or the toughest guy on the team. It is something much more important than raw, pure skill: It's leadership. And its also requires vast knowledge of the game and the ability to discern the rules of the game in communication with the referee. The Captain of the team should have many qualities and they are too numerous to mention here. And there have even been elaborate books written on the subject of what it takes to be the captain of an ice hockey team. Being Captain indeed is an honor,,but it is not bestowed on any player simply to honor them. It is bestowed on a player by the Coach who feels that player has all the correct leadership skills to be the Captain of the Team. If the Coach is ejected from the game, its usually the Captain that steps in. Now as to whether Sova or Mele could be the Captain, yes I believe they could and believe they could do it well. But it is not just because they are very good players. I see leadership in them too. But the person running the daily operations of the team is Dan Bremner and it is he who will hand out the "C". And he has done so. If he ever changes it, I will understand and if he does not I will understand. I do not have the hands on knowledge of the day to day actions of the team to pick the Captain. The Coach will have the best knowledge of that. All I ask is that if you have faith in Bremner, then please trust him with his choice of "C". On the one other issue I made a point to show was Mele, Schneider and Sova (and Barone) were on the ice playing shorthanded in crunch time, and that Bremner sent them out there. You said that I was incorrect and it was because they are the veterans. And no I was not incorrect. It was because Bremner knew it was the best three players he had in that situation and I am so proud of them coming thru. And I know you were too. But all said, do know that I recognize you love hockey and see that you do know hockey well as do the other people on the board. And I was not pointing anything at you personally nor personally at anyone else. And as you said everyone has an opinion. I just feel like it is better to enlighten people to focus more on "what is" rather than "What is not". I just wanted to project some alternative positive thought, or at least to take a time out on the negative and open up a little more space for the positive. Right now I do not see any undeserving players on this team but I realize more changes will come. Its the SPHL. The Dawgs are coming together stronger every game. Mele actually skated faster the last two games than all year. He was flying. My only downside on anything is that there are only 13 regular season home games left. And I think those games like the last several will be very enjoyable to watch.
Watching ice hockey is a very good thing. But watching ice hockey with the addition of knowing the game is an even better thing. Then Roanoke fans are very exuberant and really getting back into the desire to win. And that is absolutely awesome. But I am seeing some negativity from some fans and its very misdirected. It seems like one of the recent targets this year's negativity is directed towards captain Nick Schneider. Let me point something out for any fan who does not recognize the value of Nick Schneider. Last night while tied at 4-4, with 1:30 left in overtime and the face off in their own end, and down a man to a penalty Coach Bremner sent out Schneider, Sova and Mele. That tells a story in itself of who he had confidence in and wanted on the ice for the do or die. Schneider is one of the SPHL's most talented players and one of the hardest working players on the ice. His skills of defense and positioning are awesome and his offensive skills are far, far superior than most players in this league. So do not let the lack of knowledge or understanding of ice hockey create a spreading cancer and mess up your own watching of the game by creating some false notion that Nick Schneider is not worthy. Any team in the SPHL would take him if they could get him. And with his skills of today, and the only reason he is not in the ECHL is his age of 33. And what I am trying to explain is that it goes beyond the negativity just toward Schneider, but on any player. To make my point, last night when Pensacola scored two goals for a 2-0 lead, a fan jumped up and loudly hollered "We would be better without a goalie". Then they stood there and clapped that Matt Zenzola was removed while adding in some other taunts. The obvious fact to anyone who knows anything about hockey is that Zenzola had no chance on either goal of which both were defensive breakdowns creating an odd man situation which made any save impossible. Coach Bremner did not take Zenzola out to punish him nor did Coach feel Zenzola could have stopped either puck. He took him out as a rally point for his troops. He knew the game had to turn right then somehow or it would get away. And indeed they all responded. The poster "Enforcer" hit the nail on the head starting this topic saying "What a gutsy performance." That is exactly what it was. Barone's play was near miraculous. And every player did everything they could to win, and it took every bit of it. But even that said, we know Pensacola has a better team right now and last night could have more than easily been their win. So my advice is be positive. Learn the game. Most all fans do feel Coach Bremner will do everything he can to win. But don't fall into pattern thinking that there can be no mistakes by players or that it is somebody's personal failure if the other opponent makes some good plays. Cheers and encouragement will go much farther than ignorant catcalls. So let's stay positive and try to win another game tonight against the leagues best team.
The Roanoke team was worn out physically and I think worn out emotionally as well after beating Fayetteville twice as they played Knoxville in the third game in three nights. Knoxville plays a wide ice with long crisp passes and a fast transition which gave them a real advantage. The Dawgs fell back into the mode of falling back too far on defense and not blue lining the defense enough, allowing way to much cycling for the good passing Icebears. And Roanoke's defense was shorthanded as well. On offense the Dawg's previous sins arose once again with way too many shots missing the net. The Dawgs still played gutsy and I think that fatigue was the real killer here. The Dawg's got pretty physical in the last period and I think that showed something really significant. I think they realized they should have played that way from the start to slow up the good skating Knoxville team. And as well its good to see that after winning two games that the players did not enjoy losing the home game one bit. All the very good and successful hockey teams usually have an edge about them and do not accept losing well. So I think seeing that is a plus which will continue to grow.
Last week I posted the following statement below and as I was watching the game in Fayetteville last night I would have to say that I do believe the Dawgs corrected much of the problems that I had pointed out. Tonight Fayetteville comes here and will most likely bring a brutal game being it a back to back contest following a loss and I do see that the good defenceman Campagna is back with the Marksmen from the ECHL. I really think the Dawgs will play tough and win this one tonight. I do hope the officiating is good, as there has been some reallypoorly called games this year. In about a little over one hour we shall see.
I would advise not to get too get far ahead on critiquing the team with player specifics just yet under Bremner. But I will add that personally I wished they had not waived a talented Ryan de Melo or traded Paul Russell who could absolutely fly. I would have liked those two here for Bremner to work with but its too late for that now. And we have to consider too that Armstrong, Mueller, and Murray were called up recently to the ECHL and so three of the top players of what we had were not available this weekend. The Vandergunst call up puzzles me bigtime, and I must believe that some deal must have been in the works when he was signed to where maybe the Ftoreks worked at least a short call up assignment in a signing agreement. Vandergunst appeared in only 21 SPHL games last year, then 6 with Pensacola and 3 with Roanoke this year. So it was a very strange sequence of events indeed. Gandara can fly, he can shoot and he will hit. Schneider is a very good offensive and defensive defenseman. His mistakes come from having to do too much at times, which can kill the positioning for any player. Its going to be a matter of getting the players working much better together. Hockey is a real team sport where everyone must be in their right role and then go at that job 100%. So what I have seen so far is too much indecisive fumbling around in their own end. And there is certainly a lack of crispness on transition and breakouts. And too there is not enough attacking the opponent net and that makes the opponent goalie's job way to easy with those long wrist shoots. And then there is the consistent missing the net with umpteen shots. If Roanoke shoots 30 shots that requires their goalie to save, they must miss the net with 20 more. Shots must be directed within the area of the net opening, not 2 feet above the crossbar nor 3 feet wide which then often lead to those weird oddman breakouts the other way. All this can be fixed and will be fixed. But one New Year Resolution I hope the team takes, is no more lollygag slow lack of hustle changing on the fly that I have seen more often than not that leads to huge position advantages for the opposition. And to add to that, players must skate back hard. No loping or standing around at the opponent blue line. The wingers and center should skate back hard and back check much better than we are seeing which will then allow the defensemen to play a blue line defense rather than that stuff of letting the opposition skate all the way in to the goal line and circle the net and create an instant cycle. I don't think we have bad players. We are just playing bad. And I am confident it will be changed with Bremner