Is there a magic bullet for winning the championship?
By Travis Armideo
The easy, obvious answer to the question above is no. However, there are certain steps and team ingredients that make up a winning formula. Take a look at some common factors that most championship teams share, and see what it takes to win it all.
1. Leaders over Stars
Sure, one of the easiest ways to have a successful season is with superior talent. A loaded roster or transcendent star simply makes it that much easier to win.
Yet, while the path to a successful season may be clearer with a star or two, having the best lineup in the league isn’t enough to just guarantee winning it all. Not without strong leadership.
Strong leaders carry teams to titles, because they are the ones willing to lay it all on the line and inspire others. Being a superior athlete or a prodigy on the ice doesn’t automatically make players leaders. Leadership comes by the example that is set, and that applies more to great character than it does to exceptional skill.
Remember, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard; and leaders are the ones that make that happen.
2. Overcoming Adversity
Just like in the movies, your team is going to face adversity at some point during the season. Whether it’s losing your star player to injury or facing your hated rival in the most important game of the year, your players are going to have to overcome a major obstacle. How your team responds to those pressures and hurdles is a key indication of future success.
Are the guys on your team resilient? Do they bounce back from a tough loss or an emotionally draining victory? Is your squad capable of fighting back when they’re behind?
Resilient teams keep finding ways to win.
3. Call in the Reserves
Your season is long. Injuries and fatigue are going to factor in at some point; it’s just a fact of life, especially in hockey.
That’s why roster depth and flexibility is such an important part of the championship equation. Even the best players need to take a breather at some point. You must be able to trust that your bench players and second line are suitable replacements for your starters, or you are going to run into trouble down the line.
Keep in mind that it’s often the rotation players that become the unsung heroes; the ones who push your team over the top in the moments that matter most. And don’t forget, the hero of the championship game oftentimes is the undrafted rookie free agent or third-string player that makes the difference. Depth matters.
4. Proper Planning
While your athletes are the ones playing the game, they still need to be properly prepared. In order to be successful, you must have the right game plan.
Talent can also be beaten by better team play. Nobody gave the Villanova Wildcats a shot against the juggernaut Georgetown Hoyas in the 1985 NCAA Men’s Basketball title game. And no one believed the scrappy U.S. hockey team could beat the U.S.S.R. goliath at the 1980 Winter Olympics. Both teams prevailed, primarily because they had a plan.
But just having a game plan isn’t enough. It needs to be the best game plan for the team you have, not the team you desire. Being flexible is a key to game planning.
With the right combination of leadership and planning, resilience and depth, it’s easy to put together a title-winning formula.
Travis Armideo is Lead Marketing Specialist at Gladiator Custom Mouthguards
CrossIceHockey.com is reader supported. When you buy via the links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Learn more.