Photo by Chung Chow
Expectations can be a difficult burden. Just ask Richmond Sockeyes rookie head coach Steve Robinson.
Armed with an impressive minor hockey résumé and inheriting a talent-ladean roster expected to challenge for Pacific Junior Hockey League supremacy this season, Robinson too was optimistic.
But instead of a predictably fast start, the Sockeyes stumbled out of the starting blocks.
However, their three-win, four-loss September wasn’t as concerning as their inconsistent play.
On Oct. 2, general manager Richard Petrowsky made the first of a flurry of transactions to try and help resolve the dilemma.
And since Oct. 14, the Sockeyes are 3-and-1, but more importantly for Robinson, the players appear to be more comfortable in their respective roles.
“It’s important to play the game loosely and have fun,” Robinson says. “You have to be relaxed to put your best foot forward. But that doesn’t mean care-free or careless.“
At the end of the day, Robinson says he knows mistakes will be made. The trick is not to try to over-compensate for it by making an additional error.
Many habits, of course, are formed in practice. And Robinson sees great progress being made when it comes to successfully converting these lessons into game situations.
Coming off a three-game-in-four-night stretch last week, the Sockeyes enter their home game this Thursday (7 p.m. Oct. 26 versus Langley Trappers) clearly on the uptick. They won two of three games and sit third in the Tom Shaw Conference with an 8-5-0-1 record.
Both wins came against the Grandview Steelers, 3-2 at home last Thursday and 2-1 at Grandview on Sunday. The results, with minor hockey affiliate Hardarshan Hoonjan in goal, show the Sockeyes are capable of winning the low-scoring games typically consistent with playoff hockey.
But in a 6-5 overtime loss to the Pilots Friday in Abbotsford, the Sockeyes also showed they can also still match any team offensively if need be.
Captain Tyler Andrews, 20, who was the league’s top scorer until last week, when he was surpassed by Abbotsford’s Baylee Wright, epitomizes what Robinson wants the Sockeyes to be.
He had two assists in the first victory over Grandview last week, and added a single helper while earning third-star honours for his overall play in the return engagement Sunday.
“He works and goes to school, but when you see him at the rink he is completely focused in,” Robinson says of Andrews, who has 29 points in 13 games.
“And he never takes a practice off. He works harder than anybody else.”