- poor goal tending
- absence of team leadershipEspecially early. Think of what position we'd be in right now if we'd swept UMD at home, instead of getting swept. Especially when we had 2-goal leads after 2 both nights. Both games lie squarely on the shoulders of the net minders. Smith stepped it up in the new year, but was still shy of a top college player. I'm not going to argue if he should've made a save or not. It is apparent in his play. He's not aggressive to shooter, cheats off the post constantly, doesn't try to keep track of the puck/play through screens, stick is rarely flush to the ice, reaction time is slow/non-existent, and doesn't use the whole crease let alone leave it. He's a decent backup, not a starter.
- lack of consistencyThis team was very similar to the year after Lasch left, to me. Honestly, I was worried about it from the start of the season. Motzko relies 100% on the team captains to carry the attitude and motivation of the team. The successful teams that we've had were chock full of big natural leaders. When I saw Storm listed as our sole senior captain, it spelled trouble to me. You simply can't have a low-skill player that could be riding the pine for a whole year as your leader. Our top captain finished an entire season with 4 points and 0 goals. His character and leadership skills were clearly lacking by his attitude on the ice. I'm not putting the blame on his shoulders, but it was an omen.
- Inability to finishThis year saw little to no consistency. A fault that can be spread over the whole team, top to bottom. Lines were rarely the same between games on the same weekend, let alone for an whole month. Players were not allowed to get used to each other's habits and talents. Nick Poehling stepping up late in the season makes me hopeful for the 3 to be effective together next season. The D would be active and pinch with forwards coming back to backcheck one game, then they'd go on cruise control the next. Few players had real game-to-game high levels of play, and coaching decisions didn't help.
=============================================================================================We had troubles finishing out a game all year. We let in a lot of late goals, either due to questionable goal tending or poor defense. We failed to finish a lot of plays. There were a lot of plays with great chances; but there were too many passes, no one would crash the net, or we'd just not get puck luck. No matter how you cut it, you needs 3+ goals a game to win, and we just couldn't find our stride enough.
The good news is, we know all of these are fixable, mostly due to inexperience, and much will improve.
- LeadershipSmith brought his game to a new level after the new year, and Driscoll looked like he was ready to do the same. I've been hearing talk that Zevnik and Driscoll will leave over the summer, so I'm not going to focus on them. If Smith sends a good portion of his summer at a goalie camp training, I'm very positive that he can be extremely competitive in the NCHC. Also, I've watched several of Hrenak's (pron. REE-nack) games. He is young, but very experienced. He's been with the Slovak national team 3 times. He would've started for them this previous tourney, but was injured in practice. He puts up decent stats on a team with light defense. But more importantly, his fundamentals are already solid along with his vision and movement.
- ConsistencyWe lose 2 captains this year, despite only 1 being a senior. For those who don't know, Widman will not be returning, because he completed his masters this year and doesn't want to come back for a second. That leaves Schuldt as the only carry-over. I think next year we'll see the leadership be Schuldt, R. Poehling, and Peterson. All 3 are stand up guys that are responsible in their roles. And they're players that not only are used to winning, they're used to winning big. That attitude will be spread through the rest of the team with their strong voices.
- FinishingThis is a harder quality to judge and improve. Most of consistency comes from team chemistry and attitude. Leadership will help with that. But where we've really been spoiled over the last several years, is having players that click with each other. That mostly only comes with time. Hopefully, many players will stick around this summer, as they have in years past. This helps with conditioning, but also with relationship building, and is actively encouraged by the coaching staff.
It was the end of the season, not the end of the world. GO HUSKIES WOOOOO!Closing out a game is arguably one of the most difficult things to do. Most teams pressure extremely hard in the last 5-ish minutes of a losing game. And it is hard to not relax a little when you've got the lead. Learning to play at full tilt for 60 whole minutes is something that every player knows to do. Being able to do it is another beast entirely. Our team's age showed this year near the end of games, in overtime, and during the second games of a series. Players clearly got tired and made mistakes that cost us games. Maturity and conditioning will help. The same will help with getting that extra goal per game that we need to earn more Ws on the schedule.