Welcome to the newest weekly segment from NYI Hockey Now: Coaches Corner with Long Island University head coach Brett Riley.
The LIU Sharks took it to Stonehill, beating them 7-1 last Saturday before tying Quinnipiac 2-2 on Sunday. Here’s what head coach Brett Riley had to say:
Q: What are your overall takeaways from your first back-to-back games of the season?
“I think, obviously, as a coach, you want to be critical and find areas in which we can improve, and we will. But there are so many positives from the weekend, you know, to take three out of the four points on the road. The turnaround time was under 24 hours, which is practically unheard of, finishing a game at 7:30 P.M, and then going to play in another state at two against a top-10 team… I’m very proud of our resiliency.”
“You know, even the next night being down two nothing. I read a stat that Quinnipiac 17, one and two, in their last 20 home games. So to go in there and do what we did is really a sign of great progress to like we had we had lost in their first year seven to one, we barely touched the puck. Last year, I think it was maybe five nothing. So it’s a lot of steps in the right direction, which is really exciting for our group.”
Q: Speaking of exciting, Northeastern, you take them to overtime, but fall just short. You take Quinnipiac on and tie them, does that serve as a little bit of extra oomph for this team because you’re still gonna see Northeastern and Quinnipiac again later this season?
“It’s super exciting. I think what’s even more exciting as a coach is the look on the guy’s faces. They want more, they’re not satisfied, but just bringing these teams to the brink or getting to overtime, it’s a group that’s pushing the limits. Like I said, when you build a program, sometimes you have to keep things in perspective, and a few years ago, we didn’t touch the puck in that rink. It could have been 15, nothing. So to make the strides that we did, and be one shot away from winning a hockey game against the number seven team, you have to keep some perspective there. So a lot of really good signs.”
“We’re just taking it day by day obviously, Vinny has done a phenomenal job, he’s given us a chance to win every game here. Both the other goalies, Brandon especially, have done a phenomenal job and practice, so we feel confident in all three of them. Obviously, Vinnie has been the hot hand right now… So that’s kind of the lead will follow.”
Q: We’ve seen in the past your goalie unit get frustrated or angry in practice if they mess up, what’s your message to them when they get frustrated?
“I think it’s a good thing. It shows how competitive they are. Obviously, our practices are super competitive. There’s a winning goalie or winning and losing team at every drill on every rep. So we want them to have that strive for that competitive excellence, and it’s just about keeping cool and good body language, but Purpura’s confidence right now is sky high, and it’s rightfully, so I mean, he’s earned it.”
“He was excellent against Quinnipiac last year, he gave us a chance to win at home the first night and night two, and he went in relief and shut them out. So I was really happy for him to go there and do what he did, especially off the back-to-back within 24 hours. That’s a lot of hockey to play, 125 minutes, so well done by him.”
Q: Anthony Vincent had a good weekend with 2 goals and an assist, how good is it to see one of your new leaders that you just put in place paying off big time?
“Yeah, I think that’s why they come here The guys who transfer is just for a newfound opportunity or landing pad. When it pays off in terms of big-moment goals, like Anthony scored, it makes it so worth it. We saw him obviously, again, going back to two years, put on a clinic against us. So it was nice to be on the other side of it now. And he’s been really good tenacious forechecker, good with the puck, but he’s been an even better presence in the locker room… calming presence, a great leader, lead by example and through his actions.”
Q: The penalty kill has looked decent through 3 games, where do you attribute this success to?
“Four things to the success of the PK, Obviously the goaltender, he’s got to be your best penalty killer, and he has. Secondly, our assistant coach Will Messa has done a phenomenal job with the PK under his direction. It’s taken a really good step, and then I think we’ve got veteran killers out there. Adam Goodsir, Anthony Vincent, Nolan Welsh, Spencer Cox… guys that know how we want to kill in year three.”
“Then I guess the final point would just be continuity. Again, I think people one thing they underestimate or might not know when you’re building a program is you tend to lack continuity or things you can build off of. We finally have a good core and some ideas and principles in place.”
“ear one, kind of trial and error guessing check. Year two, you’re still playing around with the pieces, and now we’ve got, like I said, continuity, coaching philosophy, goaltender, and veteran corps killing penalties. We also had Riley Wallack taking some draws on the kill, too, and he did a good job yesterday as well.”
Q: The Women’s hockey team picked up their first win of the season over Sacred Heart, what was your thoughts?
“We follow all their games. I’m really excited for Kelly, her staff, and her players to get a big win. Obviously, they’ve faced a gauntlet, I think two frozen four contenders out of the gate. So I’m really excited for their team, I think they’ve got a good team, and she’s doing a phenomenal job.”
Q: You’re getting closer to the home opener how would you describe the energy in the locker room, especially after this weekend?
“I think morale is high again, and what’s exciting about this group is they want more. We took three or four points. There’s a little bit of snarl for not getting four, and, you know, a little bit of bite, and I think guys are just showing up focused on RPI. We went to Troy last year, and it was our worst performance of the year…Guys have not forgotten, nor have I, about that. So it’s a must-win hockey game. We’ll be really excited once this long road trip ends. It’s making us a closer, tighter, better, and more prepared team. But again, the focus is on RPI, who is coming off a really good weekend, and they’re a really good team”.