Coach Nielsen's Ice Hockey Drills

18AAA National Championships

Back from Chicago after an incredible week of excitement. The championship game went to the Chicago Mission 7-1, but the game was just 2-1 after two periods. The third period saw the Jr. Flyers take a few penalties that led to power play goals and the team just sort of brokedown after that.

The AYHL had two teams make the final four and one to the finals. I think that speaks very highly about the talent level that is building in this area of the country. Not normally known in years past as a powerhouse, things are changing as more and more players come out of the Atlantic District and go on to play at DI and DIII colleges. Seven of the Jr. Flyer players were invited to NAHL or EJHL try-out camps off their performance at the National tournament.

As much fun as the past week was, it all starts over today as most youth teams begin their evaluation process this week. I remember when hockey evaluations were in September, now it’s an all year long marathon!

Good luck to all of you for next season.

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18AAA Nationals Day 4 Part II

Tomorrow’s championship game is set. The Jr. Flyers beat Russell Stover 10-2 while the Chicago Mission beat Team Maryland 3-1. The Flyers played Chicago twice during the Elite League season and lost both games, but this Flyers team is on a roll right now. Dan Dupell scoredanother three goals tonight to take the lead in the tournament scoring race and Steven Dombrosky is the top goaltender. Mission has given up one fewer goal than Philadelphia so this sets up to be a classic game. Congratulations to all the fine players who participated in this tournament and especially to my favorite team the Philadelphia Jr. Flyers.

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18AAA Nationals Day 4

What a great day of hockey for teams in pool A as they allwon their quarterfinal games to eliminate all the pool B teams. The Jr. Flyers took out the #1 team in the country Belle Tire 5-2. Team Maryland beat the Boston Jr. Bruins 5-2. Russell Stover beat Shattuck St. Mary 4-2 and the Chicago Mission beat the Pittsburgh Hornets 3-1.

The semi-final games tonight will be a rematch of the Jr. Flyers and Russell Stover. The Flyers won the first meeting 3-2. The other game will be the Chicago Mission against Team Maryland. All four of these teams look to advance to the National championship game tomorrow afternoon.

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18AAA Nationals Day 3

Another exciting day at the tournament. The game I wanted to see was St. Mary’s against Mid-Fairfield and it was very exciting through the first two periods. Fairfield outplayed St. Mary’s in the first period but couldn’t score and as the game progressed the St. Mary’s talent took over and eventually took them to a 6-3 victory. St. Mary’s is likely to finish first in their division with Belle Tire, Boston Jr. Bruins and the Pittsburgh Hornets rounding out the four teams going to the play-offs on Saturday.

The Jr. Flyers finished the round robin play 3-0 with their 2-0 victory over the Alaskian All-Stars, with both goals coming from tournament leading goal scorer Dan Dupell. The Jr. Flyers finished second in their division behind host team the Chicago Mission. Both teams finished 3-0 but since the Flyers won their first game in OT they got one fewer point for that game and lost out to Chicago by 1 point. Tomorrow brings the Flyers up against Belle Tire in the National quarterfinal match-up. Should be a good game.

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18AAA Nationals Day 2

Another exciting day at Nationals, highlighted by the game between Belle Tire and Shattuck St. Mary’s. The game went to a shoot-out and St. Mary’s pulled out the win to give them the lead in their division. The Jr. Flyers took out Russell Stover 3-2 on a late goal by Dan Dupell his 3rd of the tournament to tie him for the lead in goals. The Jr. Flyers can wrap-up first place tomorrow with a win over the Alaskan All-Stars and a loss by the Chicago Mission.

I want to say thanks to Kevin from for finding me in the crowd and stopping to talk for a bit, it was really nice to meet him. For those of you who don’t know his site, check it out, it’s worth the time. Also want to say thanks to Brett Henning for sending his hello along to me through Kevin.

Day 3 will determine the play-off seeding……good luck to all the teams.

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18AAA Nationals Day 1

Day 1 is over for the Jr. Flyers and we won our game in overtime against the Colorado Thunderbirds 4-3. To make the game more special for me is that my son scored the winning goal!

There are tons of talented players at this tournament and you can’t turn around without rubbing elbows with a scout from the USHL, NAHL, EJHL College and even NHL Central Scouting.

Mid-Fairfield lost to the Boston Jr. Bruins 4-0 already. St. Mary’s was in a tie when I had to leave the rink so right now the tournament is open for all the teams to advance. is streaming all the games live so anyone can watch from the comfort of their own home. Tomorrow we play Russell Stover and a win should give us a spot in the play-off round on Saturday. We lost one of our defensemen with a broken wrist from a slash on the third shift of the game. I feel really bad for Chris Dinsmore, but hope him a quick recovery.

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18AAA National Championship Tournament

I’m taking some time to add some personal content to this blog over the next few days. Today I am in Woodridge, Illinois for the 18AAA National Championship Tournament. We are here with the Jr. Flyers as they attempt to win their first National title. The club has been to this tournament 15 times under the leadership of head coach Bud Dombroski and we hope this time is the charm. There are 12 teams from all over the country competing for this coveted title. The Flyers will play against a team from Alaska as well as the Colorado Thunderbirds and Russell Stover. There are two six team divisions and the top four in each division after the first three games will qualify for the play-offs on Saturday. Anyone interested in following along can click HERE to go to the USA Hockey site.

There are a number of very good teams in this tournament and I am going to try and catch a game between Shattuck St. Mary’s and Mid-Fairfield Blues. These are two of the best 18AAA teams in the country. Other top teams in the tournament are Detroit’s Belle Tire who were the top team in the National 18AAA Elite league this season. The Chicago Mission and Russell Stover will be quality teams as well. Some of the best young talent in the nation will be on display at this tournament and there will be scouts from all the Junior programs and some of the DIII college programs. Normally the DI college scouts are here as well but this year the NCAA black-out rule applies because the Frozen Four is going on at the same time.

For those of you who are in the Chicago area this week you should take the time to come out and watch some top level hockey if you have a chance. The games are being played at the Seven Bridges Ice Arena in Woodridge, Illinois.

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What it Takes to Succeed and Achieve

I always prided myself on being a hard worker back in my playing days. Lifting weights, shooting pucks in the backyard, late night runs after my homework was finished, and watching every hockey game I could to learn positional play and other repeatable actions. But you know what? As I have the advantage of time to separate the great players that made it and the great players that didn’t from my age group, I realize I didn’t work that hard. It’s tough to say that, but it’s true. Great players have a dedication to the game that is borderline obsessive.
In a great book titled The War of Art by Steven Pressfield, he talks about how everyone has a talent in some respect but most people never realize it because of one word-RESISTANCE.
This is not something that can be seen, heard, or touched but it can be felt. It’s that little voice inside your head that makes up perfectly rational excuses as to why you shouldn’t do something. Everyone feels it and unfortunately resistance seeks out what you love most. So in our case it’s hockey and all our dreams/aspirations associated with it.
In order to overcome this insidious force you have to treat your talent in a professional manner instead of as an amateur pursuit. Here are a few examples that I have encountered and maybe you have also seen, through the eyes of an amateur vs a pro.

1. That 6 am run comes pretty early. You wake-up, see that it’s raining, and think that you can do it later or tomorrow. You go back to sleep.
1. That 6 am run comes pretty early. You wake-up, see that it’s raining, and you know it’s going to be a “miserable” run. But you grab your rain jacket, strap on your shoes and do it anyway.

“Professionals show up every day”.

2. It’s a Monday practice, you’re not feeling well, and the next game isn’t until Friday. You tell yourself to take it easy and just go through the motions

2. It’s a Monday practice, you’re not feeling well, and the next game isn’t until Friday. You have many things to work on from the last game. You work your hardest and hope to sweat off that sickness.
“Pros show up no matter what”

3. You are playing the worst team in the league, in the last game of a two week road trip. You think we can get up a few goals and cruise toward 2 points. I wonder what movie we’ll watch on the bus after?
3. You are playing the worst team in the league, in the last game of a two week road trip. You know that you can’t play down to their level so you go through the exact same preparation you would as if its Game 7of the Stanley Cup finals.

“Pros give 100% to the job until it’s completed. They don’t take nights off.”

4. You get cut from a team that you were dying to make. You think I’m not good enough and decide to quit playing competitive hockey.
4. You get cut from a team that you were dying to make. You learn from your mistakes. Realize that setbacks and obstacles are a part of moving forward. You write down a plan to make another team and work toward that goal.

“Pros are committed over the long haul. Doors open and shut in your face but you have to keep working.”

Some of you may not like this post because you’ll see some of your actions fall into the amateur column. Believe me, when I looked in the mirror I saw and still see a lot of my behaviors fall into the amateur area. You have to battle this RESISTANCE everyday and it’s really tough. But know that you can overcome it and achieve great things.

Brett Henning

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