In this week's 'Making of a Royal' blog, head coach Pat LaFontaine discusses his team's opening game of the Shattuck-St. Mary's Showcase in Faribault, MN. The team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to earn a 5-5 tie against the host school, Under-16 Shattuck-St. Mary's. Brent D'Iorio and Michael Marnell each had two goals apiece and Nicholas Hutchison had a goal and one assist to spark the comeback.
It was great for the kids to experience Shattuck St. Mary's and talk about the hockey tradition it's turned out. If you look at the names of the players who have come out of there, like [Sidney] Crosby, [Jonathan] Toews and [Zach] Parise … it's basically a hockey factory.
Everybody knew where we were at and how special a place it really was. There have been a lot of tremendous hockey players coming out of Shattuck, but it didn't matter whether you flew four hours or sat in a hotel room because come game time, it's all jam. The kids had to put on their game face and be ready to play. We needed to just show up by setting the tempo, moving our feet and getting some shots off.
After the first period, I had to remind the players to stop acting like they were feeling sorry for themselves. They had to play with a purpose and not just go through the motions out there. The players needed to find some energy, some fire in their veins. Probably the hardest thing about coaching, and any coach will tell you this, is motivating and preparing kids to be ready to play at a high level.
I have to give Shattuck credit though, they worked hard, are more systematic and played it down low and tried not to give us many quality chances. When we were down, 3-0, I said to the kids this is something you don't want to get into bad habits with. You don't want to be a team that says, all of a sudden, let's turn it on whenever we need too. I thought we outshot and out-chanced them during the game and we eventually came back. I thought guys were flying and moving the puck and crashing the net in the second period and that was great to see -- that was Royals hockey.
We did finally wake up and ended tying the game, 5-5, and I said to myself, "Ok, we can live with that." There's never anything wrong with having a little swagger or confidence but if you're going to have that, you have to back it up every night. You can't enter a game lackadaisical and start off slow and enable teams to dictate the flow. Good teams bounce back, though, and we found a way to tie the game.
Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.
— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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