The second month of the year is here, and it will end with the start of the 2020 USPHL Premier playoffs.
The first-year Lake Erie Bighorns will be ready when the time comes. Already set to face the Lansing Wolves in the first round, the Bighorns’ Head Coach Kyler Speice is confident in his team.
“Things are going well in Erie right now. We are looking at the playoff picture and excited to move into the divisional play in our first year. We are currently assessing our lineups and working to make sure that we are able to put the best lineup on the ice in the first round of the playoffs and battle hard,” said Speice, whose team was 19-17-1-1 as of Jan. 27 and cemented in at fourth in the ultra competitive Great Lakes Division.
While wins, playoffs and all the X’s and O’s are important, Speice still takes a view of junior hockey shared by the most successful teams: it’s really all about development.
“We are focused truly on the development of the hockey players in our system, and not so much focused on developing them to win a particular game,” Speice added. “We have made sure that what we teach and strive for is to create an atmosphere to build well-rounded and good hockey players. We see that this is not the end of the road for most of our players, and we are focused on helping them to move on in their careers.”
The team has seen promotions to Tier2 for two players, while there are several players being looked at for NCAA Division 3 and ACHA Division 1 futures.
College coaches certainly want good athletes, but they also want good people. No one wants to worry about locker room issues, so a respectful character is an ever more important trait being scouted.
“I want to touch on the atmosphere of the locker room,” said Speice. “We have a great group of guys that have become very closely knit throughout the season. We have great character and integrity in the room and the guys have learned to battle for each other when our backs are against the wall.
“We are very proud of the character that has been created and the atmosphere within the room in our program,” he added. “We look forward to carrying that integrity and character into the playoffs and then into the coming seasons.”