Building the Gens: Head Coach Bryan Erikson on progress after opening of main camp

Photo Credit: Patrick Garriepy-Patrick Garriepy Photography

The Northeast Generals come in to the 2021-2022 campaign ready to build on the solid finish their group had to the previous year. While falling short of the playoffs, a team that was in constant change throughout the year found a way to gel near the end of the year well enough to at least come closer to a playoff spot, while helping all of their 2000-born players find college homes.

This year’s team is a mix of returners, and a lot of them, who have to take the next step from last year, and some new players looking to make their mark in this league.

With the NAHL camp just starting this week, Erikson went to great lengths to talk about what the first week of his camp looks like, and how the focus shifts from skill development to evaluation.

As he said:

“It’s mostly skill development right now. We are working on playing with speed, activating our D and how we perform on the rush both offensively and defensively. We have already been on the ice for over 8 hours in 2.5 days. The boys have worked really hard. It’s been a fun week so far. The boys are a little further along than I thought they would be. Still a ton of work to do implementing systems and our play style but the guys that Matt Dibble and the staff have brought in all are playing the way in which I want them to. Fast, physical and accountable And we will use our time in training camp to seamlessly transition to regular practice as we will really get into everything next week and build on it. The players that can adjust quickly within our structure will cement their spots higher in the line-up. The ones that can’t will be facing an uphill battle for consistent ice time until they get up to speed. But there is plenty of time and no reason why everyone shouldn’t have everything down by our first game.” The Generals open up on the road at Danbury for two games in a couple of weeks before the NAHL Showcase in Blaine Minnesota the following week.

As to who has stood out so far, Eriskon had a lot to say including: “Our returners have really taken a step forward. They all had monster off seasons. One key piece is Brent Keefer who added about 19 pounds of muscle and it has really helped him create more space. He looks poised to have a dominant year. On the backend Jackson McCarthy has been very very good. Physical, much more controlled with the puck and making great decisions. Excited to see both of them along with Kyle Schroeder who is buzzing. And then we have our leadership group in Co-Captains Matt Boczar and David Andreychuk. Both have come in and set a tone that the rest of the guys have followed. And our Assistant Captains Adam Smith and Paul Minnehan have both stepped up with their play and their presence in the locker room. Aidan Flynn and Jared Scott have both added speed and more skill to their game and they are looking very good. As for newcomers nobody has stood out negatively at all. But a few that have been a little bit ahead of where we maybe were expecting them to be. Bryce Cooper has been a physical force and his skating is great. Douglas Friberg is getting close to being ready to be dominant. And up front Ryan Corcoran has been a great surprise. We knew he was good but I think he has been a bit better than expected by some of the staff. Sixten Jenersjo has also been great. Has had a great first week. And Joey McGraw the youngest player in the league has handled himself very well in the first week. Good news for everyone is they look good. Bad news in some cases is that they have reset the expectations to be even higher next week.”

Erikson knows the camp process is consistent, and through this process, the staff is finding out where everyone is pretty quickly,

As he said, here is what a typical day looks like, keeping in mind that all Generals players have access to drills ahead of time and are expected to bring knowledge of each drill to it.

Erikson provided the schedule of a normal day with this knowledge in mind

” 10:30am – Video, 11:00am – Team Stretch, 12:00pm – 1:30pm – On Ice (practice 1), 1:45pm Workout Group 1 in Gym, 2:30pm Workout Group 2 in Gym, 3:45pm – 5:15pm – On Ice (practice 2), 5:30pm – Wrap up and preview of next day.”

The goal of camp is to , as Erikson said keep things simple, and “we try to let the kids focus on just the hockey part as much as possible. We set it up to be a grueling two weeks to make sure the players have put in the proper work in the off season and that they are ready to contribute to the team. It helps separate kids pretty quickly between who is ready and who isn’t.”

Earning time in Erikson’s lineup requires all of the things he has mentioned in this piece. The Generals have a lot of talent on a team ready to take the next step from their strong finish to last year. On a team full of talent, after the positive start to camp, just like in games after last year, after a strong first week, the expectations for this group have been raised. Players are competing for a roster spot, and to not be a borderline player subject to what some of the Generals’ talent at USHL camps ends up doing. Some of them could come back to Attleboro, and all head off to their USHL camps during the early part of September. For those in camp for Erikson, the best thing to do is , as Erikson said, focus on the hockey and show that you belong on the team regardless of any external factor, the other stuff will work itself out as a team of veterans and newcomers looks to start the season strong in two weeks.

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