January 31, 2006

Q & A With Holy Cross Men's Hockey Coach Paul Pearl

Jan. 31, 2006

Your offense has really turned it up lately and is now ninth in the nation in scoring. Going into the year that was the one thing you were a little concerned about. As of now you must think the offense is going in the right direction.

Yeah I think we are getting some pucks at the net. I'd still like to see us generate more shots. Coming off this weekend I definitely think we are going in the right direction. But we need to generate the 40 shots a game like we did this weekend. It just makes more sense that more pucks will go in the net if we do that. I was never worried about the players being able to score just about the difficulty of scoring in college hockey today. So I think getting the scoring average up a little bit has been good.

Five games ago you made a change with the lines in that you put James Sixsmith and Sean Nappo with Pierre Napert-Frenette, while you put Tyler McGregor and Blair Bartlett with Dale Reinhardt. How do you like how those lines have been playing?

It has gone well. I was actually going to make a different switch but assistant coach Kyle Wallack actually came up with that one. It wasn't because we were disappointed with anything at the time, we were still doing pretty well but I thought that we had gotten a little bit stale on five-on-five. What it did was spice up our power play because we switched the personnel around. The same 10 guys are on the two power plays but everyone is playing with different people. It just might have excited them a little to get on the ice with different players. We will see how long these combos work. It is all work in progress towards getting to the playoffs. We certainly like what we see in the short term and we'll see how it goes over the long term.

Tyler McGregor was named Atlantic Hockey Player of the Week and has 10 assists in the last five games. Can you talk about his play, especially about having a solid season in his senior year?

Since his freshman year, Tyler has been one of the best players in the league. When he is on which is most of the time he is a very difficult kid to stop, because even though he is not the biggest kid out there he is tough and quick enough to get to the net. One of the goals against AIC the other night he picked the puck out of the air. That is a difficult hockey play to make especially while moving and he makes it pretty routinely. The assists are coming because Blair Bartlett is starting to score goals. When it was McGregor, Napert-Frenette and Bartlett, Tyler was doing most of the scoring and Blair was getting the assists. I just think there is an ebb and flow to those guys playing together. Tyler has been playing great lately and we want that to continue.

Senior Blair Bartlett has been coming up big as he had seven points in three games last week. His 24 points is the most he has had in a single-season. Can you talk about his growth as a player from a freshman to a senior?

It is funny because his freshman year is his second highest total of points. He has just been banged up in the two years in between. I give him credit that he would always come back from an injury and play, but he was just unable to perform at his peak level. I think he is just taking off from what he did as a freshman when he was able to play a full season and get the chances that he does. In terms of this season, he is shooting the puck more and getting more shots on net. That is the type of thing he needs to do because has a good, hard and heavy shot. It is not always going to score but it will create rebounds because it is a tough shot for a goaltender to handle and he gets it off really quick. Blair is a very good player and for him to play the whole season and get his chances is how good players get points, and that is what is happening.

Sophomore Dale Reinhardt is anchoring that line very well. What has he done this season that has impressed you?

Dale is just a great player. He continues to get stronger and a little bit quicker as any kid needs to do. His best hockey is still ahead of him. He has as much hockey sense as any kid I have coached and has certainly as much as ability in seeing the ice and making plays. What Dale needs to do is do a little less sometimes. Sometimes in a game he tries to do too much. Overall when he is playing like he has over the last five games he is a very good center and I am sure McGregor and Bartlett enjoy playing with him.

Patrick Rissmiller was named to the AHL All-Star Team and just became the Cleveland Barons' all-time leader in points. It must feel good to know that someone who played in your program is having a successful professional career.

With Pat you knew that his top playing level was ahead of him as he got better and better every year here. He really took to conditioning because he always had the natural talent. Pat has worked really hard since he got here and since he became a pro so I couldn't be happier for the success he is having. No kid deserves it more. To be able to play good hockey and hopefully be rewarded with getting to the NHL which he should, would be great for him.

Bentley is the only Atlantic Hockey team that you have not faced yet this season. What kind of games do you expect from them this weekend?

They are going to be very physical and pretty quick. Bentley is as talented a team as anybody in our league. I like their roster when I see their players. We are going to have to be ready to go. We can't turn the puck over in the neutral zone especially at their place because they play in a small rink. There is not going to be a lot of up and down the ice flow to these games I wouldn't think. There is going to be a little tighter checking and we are going to have to adapt to that.

You now have the most wins for a head coach in the program's history with 171. Even though your name is with the record, wins are more of a team achievement. So what does it say about the teams and players that you have had in 11 years that have brought so many wins to the program?

I think what it is says is that we have had an unbelievable good group of kids come through here. Through the efforts of our assistant coaches recruiting, the kids' hard work in the weight room, doing well in school and all the different things that we have been able to accomplish over the last 11 years is a testament to the type of kids that we have. That is a credit to everybody here. I am proud of being part of that. All the different assistant coaches I have had who brought in those players, coached those players and made sure those players went to class and all those good things. You get to a milestone and honestly you don't know about it or think about it until people start telling you. It gives you time to reflect about the kids that have played here and you can't believe that Terrence Butt played for you 11 years ago. Its kind of a long time. Mike MacDonald and all those guys on the teams in the first couple of years that we were here really helped us implement what we wanted to do system wise. Just in terms of putting a program in place as opposed to just putting a team together. I couldn't give more credit or be any more grateful to all of the kids that have played here and put in the time and effort that we have asked of them. Fortunately for our little small part of the world it has resulted in some successes and it has been a great ride for 11 years and hopefully we can keep it going for another 11.

You played under Coach Peter Van Buskirk, he was an assistant coach for your team and now he is in the office next to you as the coach of the Holy Cross women's hockey team. What kind of an influence has he been on you and what have you learned from him?

Everything in hockey about systems, drills and things like that I got something from Peter. He is an unbelievable hockey coach. It was fantastic playing for him, working with him later when he was helping me out here and having him next door. We still talk all the time and he is an outstanding coach and continues to do a good job with kind of a fledgling program next door. They will continue to get better. There is no better hockey guy and person than Peter. It is nice to have my name associated with his.