Coaching an ECHL hockey team to an all-important season of “Ws” follows a guided path, but also has to have the flexibility to make adjustments for each opponent faced.
Gwinnett Gladiators Coach John Wroblewski has a big picture plan when it comes to forwards, defensemen and goaltenders, but stresses the adaptability of his players to take things on a game-by-game basis.
“We think of the team as coming from the forwards back.” Wroblewski said. “We’re looking for our forwards to drive pace and our D to control the play and our goalie to make the final stop.”
Breaking it down, Wroblewski says the Gladiators organization seeks versatile forwards who fore-check, create plays, and keep pucks alive.
In the case of the centers, their duties include controlling each play and being responsible on the defensive end of the puck. Centers also need to facilitate plays for the left and right wings.
“Whether that is distributing the puck to the outside or whether that’s pitching the puck out to neutral ice and letting our wings skate into it. We want those center ice men to be anchors out there.”
In Wroblewski’s plan, wings are looked upon to drive pucks wide, create plays down low and be active on the fore-check.
“We don’t necessarily look for the flashier player or the type of player that is going to be good for only scoring goals,” said Wroblewski. “We’d rather have goal scoring done by committee and the opportunity to play in tight games – which is good for the players and good for the team.”
When building the team, the Gladiators’ front office wanted their defensemen to be as big and mobile as possible on the backend.
“I think we did a pretty good job of achieving that with the personnel we’ve gone out and secured.”
When it comes to goaltending, Wroblewski said, “What you’re trying to do is make your goaltender’s job as easy as possible. And for us, a lot of that comes down to controlling the breakout and controlling the fore-check. Controlling the fore-check really has nothing to do with defense and has everything to do with stalling the other team from being able to come out collectively.”
“In the game of hockey, it’s really tough to say, left wing, right wing, center here’s your responsibilities. We have different plans for different lines that we have out there.”
This flexibility allows for split second, in-game decisions to be made. In essence, these decisions are the miles to travel to reach destination “W”.
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