Photo Credit: Kelsey Lee-Violet Turtle Photography
Eric Lang has seen two Providence College games on tape, so far the AIC Head Coach has found in the Friars ” not one ounce of weakness.”Of the team, he said that on film, they are not out of position. In addition, he compared their skill level to their exhibition opponents, Boston College.Lang sees the Friars as a more veteran heavy version of the Eagles. He praised netminder Jaxson Stauber, and how well coached their group is by Nate Leeman, who will be an NHL coach one day if he gets offered the right opportunity.
As for his Yellow Jackets, this weekend’s matchup will simply be a matter of, as Lang said “the team that wins Saturday will be one that out performs the other in their strength.” Both teams are veteran teams with high end skill, and both of them have not played two games in a row. Providence is playing its second game in three days, and AIC is opening its season. Lang praised Jake Kucharski for his exhibition play and confirmed that he is the projected starter. The Providence transfer gets to battle the Friars at home,and will get the first chance at holding down the starting job for Lang this season.
As to some of his skaters, Lang praised Brian Rigali’s work against BC, the UCONN transfer will be a big part of the non-conference games against Hockey East schools and of the group this season. He had high praise for Chris Theodore and his work on offense as well.
As to what systems have changed for Lang and his group, the offseason gave him time to think and reflect on the loss to North Dakota. He used this offseason to refine his systems and focus on getting better as a coach, and with his staff in teaching players around the following, “we preach to our guys we want them to make plays and make plays and make plays.. and some times I think we were trying to make plays at all costs.” They refined their philosophy in part around non conference games. In these pressure filled games that help determine if AIC gets an at large spot, Lang found that his players were trying to as he said ” make plays at all costs” and as one to continuously evaluate his systems, refining them for the talent on his roster is a logical thing to work on. Its first test comes tomorrow night against a team that has arguably played the most complete hockey of any team that has played more than one regular season game so far, east of Minnesota State that is.
In addition, Lang’s staff has added more wrinkles to what they like to do in all three zones to make the Yellow Jackets harder to pin down. Its akin to a football defense finding different ways to disguise the same blitz against different teams, and adding new blitzes every week. In the time where everything is recorded and available to study on video, Lang and his staff have to look for any advantage they can find to supplement the talent they have on their roster. Another thing that Lang takes very seriously to help their big roster is their Saturday Morning Skates, that allow the scratched players to get work in. As Lang said, “Saturday morning skate we are trying to replicate what the game would look like for them that night, and those skates are really important to us.” They will be even more important tomorrow, given that this team faces the defending national champs this week in two critical games after this one, and some of the scratched players that stand out in this skate could find themselves in the lineup next Friday night.
To end off, Lang implored new potential fans to come check his group out this weekend at MassMutual Center, saying “we play an up tempo and exciting brand of hockey .. you’re going to see a team that embraces and plays for one another.“
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