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Thread: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

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    Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    A landmark season with several more firsts, including a Cleary Cup and an NCAA appearance, has drawn to an end, albeit a disappointing one. Still there is plenty of reason for optimism with loads of returning talent and hopefully our coaching staff remains intact and our goalie stays put. New recruits are on their way to Schenectady and the OOC schedule is in the works. In any event it should make for an interesting 6 months until 2011-2012 kicks off.
    Last edited by Wholin1; 03-29-2011 at 06:02 PM.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    OK, that didn't take long. Nate Leaman is a finalist for the Spencer Penrose award as national coach of the year, per Ken Schott. http://cms.dailygazette.com/weblogs/...penrose-award/

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by Wholin1 View Post
    OK, that didn't take long. Nate Leaman is a finalist for the Spencer Penrose award as national coach of the year, per Ken Schott. http://cms.dailygazette.com/weblogs/...penrose-award/
    I'd say Leaman would be the favorite if it weren't for Blashill at WMU. Should be a close race between the two. EDIT: Or not. Should be Leaman all the way.
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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by UMDBulldogHockeyIsKing View Post
    I'd say Leaman would be the favorite if it weren't for Blashill at WMU. Should be a close race between the two. EDIT: Or not. Should be Leaman all the way.
    I'm wondering when the actual voting takes place i.e. before or after the tournaments and who votes . BTW, good luck to tUMD next week.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by Wholin1 View Post
    I'm wondering when the actual voting takes place i.e. before or after the tournaments and who votes . BTW, good luck to tUMD next week.
    Thanks. They'll need it.
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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    It's nice that Nate is again receiving recognition for his coaching prowess, but I just wonder how you can give a guy a national COY award when he failed to lead a team into the post season? In keeping with the long standing Union style, they plain folded. Now if the award(s) are based on regular season only, then he is deserving, but if the awards are for the complete body of work...find another candidate. Don't get me wrong, I am a Leaman fan...he does more with less, has continually improved his team and is making Union a team which is noticed on a national basis, but the end result it is a very incomplete product. In sports, as in life, to be a success you need to be able to finish. Controlling play is great, but if you don't score, you don't win. Having the best regular season record is great, but it only gives you seeding in a tournament...you are not the Champ. When the time arrives to show your stuff, such as tournament time, you must perform. Without that performance, your team is the loser and someone else the winner. Leaman has consistently lead teams into the post season that have failed miserably. He hasn't figured how to perform on the big stage yet, and is still trying to figure out the right "launch code." I know this is a brutal review, but we need to have an honest perspective on this. We rant and rave, jump up and down, and say what a great job he is doing when the team is on a tear. So it is only right that we give him the same "credit" for the team's monumental collapse. In the days leading up to the playoff games we spoke of Nate needing to have the team focused, hungry, aggressive, and willing to go the extra mile, and he failed to deliver this.
    I am a Union fan...proud when they win and ready to crow, upset when disparaging comments are thrown our way, on the edge of my seat for every minute of play, but when the team fails to perform to their ability, I will point it out and not try to sugar coat it.
    At this point in his career, Nate is a great regular season coach and a horrible second season coach. Things ARE moving in the right direction, but there is a big step to take to get to the next level for this team. When the time comes for this to happen with Leaman...and it will... we will know that it is not a fluke or a flash in the pan, but instead the result of years of hard work and preparation.
    With that, I have to say that Nate is a flawed coach...but he is our flawed coach and I'm glad he is.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by OsecnUC View Post
    Don't get me wrong, I am a Leaman fan...he does more with less, has continually improved his team and is making Union a team which is noticed on a national basis, but the end result it is a very incomplete product. In sports, as in life, to be a success you need to be able to finish. Controlling play is great, but if you don't score, you don't win.
    And if you don't have a roster stacked with high draft picks, you can't count on being able to consistently beat D1 goaltenders in tight tournament games. Leaman is coaching at a small school with high academic standards and no scholarships. ECAC teams are better than they get credit for, but the guys who win you NCAA tournament games are the NHL-caliber snipers, and there are precious few of those in our league. Not Leaman's fault. This was not unlike Princeton-UND from a couple of years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by OsecnUC View Post
    At this point in his career, Nate is a great regular season coach and a horrible second season coach.
    Your team just went through an entire D1 season with a 31% success rate on the PP. That's absolutely ridiculous. Leaman is a good coach, period. Yes, your team basically had the UMD game set up on a tee and whiffed. I thought Union looked better than UMD 5x5, but if you go 0-9 on the PP, you deserve to lose. And if you are the best PP team in the country and get NINE chances in a game, it's even worse. But to lay that on the coach in a single-elimination tournament . . . I don't think that's fair. They earned their way into the tournament, and then they put themselves in perfect position to win. The puck didn't want to bounce their way, and let's face it: in addition to playing really well overall and absolutely tearing it up on special teams, UMD led a charmed life all weekend. They earned their luck, but they got their share and then some.

    I agree with you that you need to put up or shut up in the post-season. On the other hand, based on Union's recent history and what they've accomplished, I don't think you can fault Leaman for anything right now. He did exactly what he needed to do, and things just didn't break your way in Bridgeport. Considering all the other recent ECAC failures, it looks bad, but if you look really hard at what your team did this year - including its performance in Bridgeport - you should feel very good. Heck, look what happened to BC.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by TimU View Post
    Considering all the other recent ECAC failures, it looks bad, but if you look really hard at what your team did this year - including its performance in Bridgeport - you should feel very good. Heck, look what happened to BC.
    Absolutely there are things to feel good about. The results of the regular season, the direction the program is taking, all done with players who are not in the radar of the big time NHL scouts. I am very aware of this and that it costs a bundle for the honor to play at U, as I have written a few checks to this school. My sentiment is that the program needs to continue to move to a point where they can win in the post season...both on the ECAC and NCAA stages. I don't need to pull out the stats as we all know of Union's/Leaman's lack of success in playoff games. The teams of the last three, possibly four, years were ones that had great potential playing well in regular season games, but they have yet to come to fruition on the post season. In my book they had the ability to advance in post season play, but failed to. If a team does not perform up to its ability, it really comes down to motivation and with that you need to look at coaching. I think the role and importance of the coach in NCAA competition is oft overlooked. The psychology behind this changes drastically as the year progresses from pre-season to regular season and then playoff games. When you are coaching in the tournament, especially one which is "one and done," your approach needs to change. You are changing from a mentality where one game build off the next to an all or nothing approach. I called it "finishing" before. You can wield the sword, hurt your opponent, even draw blood, but you have to be able to plunge it into the foe in order survive...no matter what it takes. Nate just hasn't found the right way to get his teams to respond in these types of games. It is responding to a kill or be killed situation. The Colgate series is a prime example of this. They had them down, Colgate was gasping for their last breath, but U allowed them to hang around long enough to have the tables turned on them. The death blow needed to come in the 2nd period of the second game, but it was never delivered. All retrospect, all history, but the bottom line is that Leaman failed to get his boys to go out and finish things off. Huge, missing piece of the puzzle. When he figures out how to get the boys to respond in these situations, then the results will be sweet! I'm willing to see this through and hope that he has the guts to stay here and finish what he has started. (Coach B, too!). Should they be recognized for their accomplishments? Sure, but the story is not complete.
    Last edited by OsecnUC; 03-30-2011 at 01:33 PM.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    We still have only one playoff series win in our history and IIRC, zero OT wins. I think OT games are a microcosm of the playoffs and teams that are smart, aggressive and going for the kill IMO often come out on top, of course good or great goaltending doesn't hurt either. Still you have to walk before you can run and regular season success does not necessarily lead to postseason success, it certainly hasn't in Union's case. I think Leaman is still growing on the job and has a job to finish here which he is totally capable of doing if given the chance. Of course his first obligation is to his family and doing what he thinks is best for them, so if he feels compelled to leave, I don't have standing to argue with that and will wish him the best. I hope however that he and the college can find a way for him to do both so that he can take the program to the next level. I also have a tremendous amount of respect for Rick Bennett and Ben Barr for that matter, and would like to see them stay put as well.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by TimU View Post
    I agree with you that you need to put up or shut up in the post-season. On the other hand, based on Union's recent history and what they've accomplished, I don't think you can fault Leaman for anything right now. He did exactly what he needed to do, and things just didn't break your way in Bridgeport. Considering all the other recent ECAC failures, it looks bad, but if you look really hard at what your team did this year - including its performance in Bridgeport - you should feel very good. Heck, look what happened to BC.
    I'll add this: there are 9 other ECAC teams that would have loved the opportunity to lose in the first round of the regionals.

    All in all Union had a great year... nothing at all to be ashamed of or worry about for that matter. When I started folowwing the Bobcats back in 06-07, Union was a team nobody worried about. I wouldn't say you were a doormat back then, but it was close. Now Union is one of the most respected teams in the league. That's a great foundation and the future still looks bright.

    Now, if you come out and tank next season, then you can start hurling stones at the coaching staff!
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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by Wholin1 View Post
    so if he feels compelled to leave, I don't have standing to argue with that and will wish him the best.
    Since you are our recognized knowledgable source (deservidly so, I might add) what was Nate's most recent deal? Not the dollars but the term. Was he extended through 2015?

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by OsecnUC View Post
    Since you are our recognized knowledgable source (deservidly so, I might add) what was Nate's most recent deal? Not the dollars but the term. Was he extended through 2015?
    If memory serves, he is extended now through 2016-17 season. I've never seen a coaching contract but I've always assumed there are plenty of "out clauses" if a coach wants to leave.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    [QUOTE=OsecnUC;5107443]I'm willing to see this through and hope that he has the guts to stay here and finish what he has started.QUOTE]

    There is so much I want to address in your 2 posts, but because of my lack of cut/past knowledge with these posts I will stick with this one. Just because you write checks does not make you an expert on coaching a team, although some feel they should have a say in a lot of things that happens within a program. "He has the guts" is your best line....you almost sound like a trustee that can't afford to pay Coach Leaman what he is worth................. "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink."? Coach has done everything he can do from a coaching perspective to prepare his team, and put them in a position to win.

    Let's look back at the game they were winning 2-0 going into the 3rd. Fluke goal over Keith's shoulder, a between the leg deflection by Bourdon on the second goal, then a real nice play on the third.....those are Coach's fault?

    Then to the next game, up 3-2 with three minutes left.....Brisebois scores on a bad angle deflection to tie it....then in OT, Keith off his angle.....these are Coach's fault?

    There comes a time when PLAYERS need to step up and perform to their level of ability, and unfortunately, that did not happen to win it for them vs Colgate or UMD. How do you explain 0-9 on the PP when they were clicking at 31%? It comes down to execution....and players execute....coaches give guidance as to where you can expose and execute.

    You are correct in that the story is not complete, but please....you would not have a story to write if it were not for Coach Leaman. By the way, do most check writers call all coaches by their first name.....have some respect!!!!!

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    No doubt the players need to take ownership of their playoff performance, but I think the real point is well taken and that is that by and large U's playoff record is not great and still a work in progress. On the otherhand a team that does almost everything right during the regular season doesn't just forget how to bring it's "A" game, does it? I think also Hockeymascot may have missed Ocean's point about writing checks. I assumed he was referring to the financial commitment most recruits and their families must make when they sign on for $50K / year. The fact that they buy into the program and that U is getting the quality recruits that they are in the face of such a financial commitment, is a credit to the coaching staff and their belief in Union as an institution.

    As far as the Colgate series is concerned, I think the point was that after winning the first game we had them by the throat and let them get away. We should have crushed them and moved on and not been in a position where a bounce here or there or a fluke goal scuttled the series. I know it's a lot easier to say than do...just saying is all.

    I do agree that the Trustees or whoever is in charge of such decisions needs to take a look at this coach and all that he has done, all of the recognition that he has brought to the institution, the quality of individuals who have won multiple student athlete of the year awards, etc., and ask "Nate, what is it going to take to keep you here?" Who knows, maybe that is the discussion that is going now while UMass Lowell, Providence Penn State or others are wooing him, if they are. I don't even know if this is going on right now, but I'd say it's a safe guess that it is. If Union let's him go without a fight, I will be peeved. I will also say that I'm getting a bit annoyed with the process and hope we don't have to go through this on an annual basis. It's a distraction to the program, can't help recruiting and I'm guessing the players themselves find it pretty upsetting and at least this fan can do without it.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Thanks wholin1, I always have had a tough time reading between the lines. Having said that, I think Ocean's comments are directed toward Coach Leaman and the fact that he has not taken them to "the promised land". As far as the process to keep Coach Leaman is concerned, Union needs to step up to the plate. Union has had the experience now of competing on the National stage with the big boys. If you want to continue to compete with the big boys, the internal structure needs to simulate the resources it takes to compete with the big boys......a financial commitment I am not sure Union is willing to make.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    This is the most ridiculous pile of CRAP I have ever read on any Union thread. End of story.
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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    has anyone heard anything about next seasons schedule....I know many schools start releasing theirs but havent heard anything about Unions

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    WooHooo!!! We've made the big time!! Union doesn't make it to the Frozen 4 and we're ready to start a "Time to fire Nate" thread

    But more seriously, while I don't particularly agree with OsecnUC's comments on the coaching, have to agree that the big offseason speculation revolves around what it will take for Union to win more of these big games.

    My take on it is pretty simple.. U needs to play a tougher schedule and get more experience playing against true top-end teams. I know some folks in the ECAC will disagree with this, but IMO the ECAC was significantly weaker than the other 3 "big" conferences this season and Union's schedule compounded this by having 7 games against AHA teams. I thought the big difference between UMD and Union/Yale last weekend was that the Bulldogs from the W had more poise and stayed fundamentally sound even when things got tough. Union just never looked totally confident or in sync right from the get go. UMD on the other hand stayed relatively calm even though the ice was crappy, the reffing was terrible and they were playing far from home in front of a pro ECAC crowd. I think they got this way from playing in the toughest league in the country. By my count I would say UMD had over 20 games against top teams. As for Union, I would count 5; UMD obviously and the 2 against Yale & WMU.

    Personally, I don't think confidence in big games is something you can coach, it only comes from experience and players being confident in those situations. As for Union's chances of getting to that point, I'm actually more confident after seeing last weekend. I thought Union and UMD play very similar styles, with an emphasis on fundamentally sound defense, good special teams and attention to what Leaman has preached as "the little things" - winning faceoffs, blocking shots, finishing checks, getting in the passing lanes, etc. Unfortunately, UMD did all of these things just a little better (or in the case of the PP, much better) than U and "made their bounces" - but I'm encouraged that U is on the right track and will continue to improve. Hopefully the rumors of a trip to Denver next season are true and U's increased national rep will eventually result in some tougher OOC games.. and would also be nice for Cornell, RPI, Clarkson, SLU, etc. to raise their games a notch or two and add more high end depth to the ECAC schedule.
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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by Wholin1 View Post
    As far as the Colgate series is concerned, I think the point was that after winning the first game we had them by the throat and let them get away. We should have crushed them and moved on and not been in a position where a bounce here or there or a fluke goal scuttled the series. I know it's a lot easier to say than do...just saying is all.
    Union shouldn't even have had the opportunity to lose to Colgate.

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    Re: Union Hockey 2011 Off Season Thread-"Union, We've Paid Our Dues"

    Quote Originally Posted by Ralph Baer View Post
    Union shouldn't even have had the opportunity to lose to Colgate.
    Ralph, times 2!

    I don't think any of these comments, at least not mine, were meant as a "fire Leaman" thread, far from it. It shows how far he has brought this program that we can now b***ch about failure to win an NCAA game of all things. In any event his status could be moot as the rumor mill continues to swirl.

    UMD was a formidable opponent in my view and we played an excellent defensive game. We just couldn't get untracked offensively or on the PP and none of the hockey breaks went our way. One of our forwards commenting through his father said that the UMD D corps was the fastest they faced all season, and this plays directly into ADK's comments. It would help a lot if we could upgrade our OOC schedule. The problem is few of the perennial powers are willing to travel to Schenectady. That leaves us largely only with expensive travel alternatives unless we can get more Hockey East opponents and IF top programs will schedule us. I have heard that CC and Denver may be on next year's schedule and that Western Michigan will be coming in as well.

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