FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Huskies coach Todd Alexander isn’t focused on his team’s historic 26-1-1 record this far into a season, he’s focused on making sure his players are putting in the time, effort, and thought needed to be successful, on and off the ice.
Appearing on Moose Talks, the Huskies head coach says the mood is always good with his group.
“We pay a lot of attention to that aspect of the game, the mental side of it. We definitely don’t pay too much attention to where we are in the standings,” said Alexander.
“It’s about how we’re actually playing, and if we’re playing the right way, then good things happen for us. We talk about it all the time, so mentally, our group puts a lot of time in.”
Alexander admitted that he does ask a lot of his players.
“I ask for things that many of the programs at our level aren’t doing. But at the end of the day, it’s the players that are getting the reward out of it.”
The bench boss makes it clear that he wants his players to take ownership of their game, and of the season.
“Making sure they’re the ones that understand the value of winning. And it’s not just about winning, it’s about understanding what it takes to win.”
Balancing emotions is key to maintaining momentum in a long season, especially during the pandemic, where nothing is guaranteed.
“It’s not about acting like a superhero when you win a hockey game, but then jumping off a cliff when you lose one. It’s about maintaining that level of composure where you can float along and try to make sure that your mindset is in the right place.”
While coach has seen many mentally tough players in years past, he says there’s something to this year’s squad that makes his job very easy.
“I think it’s definitely one of the more mentally tough teams that I’ve had. Not saying that I haven’t had some tough teams or players, but their mindset as a group is very strong, and it’s impressive to be a part of it. They’re the ones that make me look good at the end of the day.”
Just being positive isn’t always enough. Alexander says it’s important to consciously block out negative thoughts.
“We work on deflecting negativity. We also work on not talking about negativity, as far as allowing it to come out of our mouths. It might pop into our heads, we are human, none of us are perfect. But at the end of the day, we don’t like it to come out of our mouths.”
Alexander says one of the benefits of being a top team for the better part of the last decade is that they get every team’s best effort when they meet.
“We expect everybody’s best game when we play. We know we’re getting their best swing, and so we’ve got to be ready. That’s the challenge we face each and every night, and it’s an enjoyable challenge. I’d rather have people coming in and giving us their best game.
One of the new features of the NWJHL is streaming all games on one platform, HockeyTV. As a coach, Alexander says it’s a great tool for scouting his league, as well as other players and teams in other leagues.
“It’s been a lot better, especially for road games. I can get film from the road games. We’ve been filming our games for a long time and posting them to YouTube, so our fans have always been connected to us. The biggest difference from what we used to do is that it’s a platform that scouts can use in the United States of Canada to watch our players.”
That added exposure means more opportunities to play hockey after the Huskies.
“For the guys that are interested in moving on to that next level of college, which I think we’ve had 15 or 16 guys go in the last eight years or so, it’s been good. I think it was a move that we needed to do, and myself, our general manager Jeremy, and our president Mike, have been trying to push for.”
The Huskies play two road games this week, and they’ll return to the North Peace Arena on Friday, January 21st, to play the Grande Prairie Kings.