Editor’s Note: Canton boys varsity hockey head coach Anthony Levato will contribute weekly to Plaindealer Sports with a column focused on the Golden Bears on the ice, as well as other stories, lessons and observations about sport and life within the scope of high school hockey.
This year it seems as though the winter weather has come fast and furious. Along with the weather comes the beginning of the winter sports season for high schools across the North Country. The emergence of Plaindealer Sports has inspired me to contribute what will be a weekly column. Some weeks I may talk about the games, other weeks my energy might be focused on certain players or something that is going on in the hockey world outside of our team. This will in a sense be our very own “Coach’s Corner.” Throughout the weeks I hope that the reader gets an inside look at our program and enjoys some stories and lessons that the wonderful game of hockey provides us.
Our boys now have the first week of practice under them and the group is coming together nicely. What I have been most impressed with so far is their collective work ethic and comradery. Thirty two players round out this year’s roster which consists of 28 skaters and three goalies. Ten of the skaters have been put on a practice only roster and will be taking turns practicing in order to keep our numbers appropriate for each practice. Structuring our team this way allows us to develop all of the players in our program and create competition in levels throughout our roster.
To the outsider, it may seem like 32 hockey players is a high number for one team. I can assure you that when they are all together it does not seem like it is too much to handle. This is due in large part to how close this group has already become. It now seems as if we have a roster full of players who understand what it means to be a part of this family.
I’ll share a text the coaching staff received Monday morning from a player who graduated last year. This quote certainly provided an energy boost and was shared with all of the players who came out on day one.
The first week of practice is difficult for our student athletes. I share their appreciation for their parents, teachers and anyone who helps them through it. Our young team never complained and actually enjoyed the process that produced pain and sweat. The players trust the process and trust that their teammates are working as hard as them. When a team has that type of “buy in” from each one of its members they can accomplish great things. It will be important to stay disciplined and not get complacent with what has already been achieved.
After one week I find myself encouraged and have been able to put to rest many concerns about our team. The group’s identity is starting to reveal itself and I love what I see. I hope that the new energy within this year’s team is shared with our school and community. We have a great opportunity in front of us and we look forward to sharing it with you.
* A special thank you goes out to all who contributed and helped out with our annual bottle drive. Another record year is just more proof that we represent the best community around!