Saturday Sports: First year SLU hockey coach looks ahead to next season

Saturday Sports: First year SLU hockey coach looks ahead to next season

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - Exactly 363 days ago, Brent Brekke was named the head coach of the St. Lawrence Men’s Hockey Team.

A lot has happened in the last year under Brekke’s guidance; and heading into his 2nd season at the helm of the Skating Saints, Brekke hopes a change in culture will pay big dividends for his team both on and off the ice.

Despite posting a 4-27-5 overall record, 2-18-2 in ECAC play, the Skating Saints of St. Lawrence made some big strides under first year head coach Brent Brekke.

The saints had 9 one goal games and 10 overtime games during the 2019-2020 season. And with a few bounces in their favor, that record could have looked much different.

“You know, it was some good steps from the progress that we were looking to make, but not in the wins and losses column. And I think that’s the one thing we kept reminding our guys. We’re getting better and our culture is starting to evolve here a little bit, but you can’t just hang your hat on the wins and losses for right now. Those are gonna come in due time, and a lot of the groundwork we’re laying now may not show up this year as far as success. It might show up down the road next year,” said Brekke.

When Brekke was named head coach of the Saints almost 1 year ago, he stressed that turning around the program wouldn’t be something that happened overnight and would take some time.

Despite some bumps in the road in year one, Brekke feels the program is on the right track heading into year 2.

“I think we’ve taken some good strides, you know we’ve had a big turnover here. It’s gonna be a lot of new faces coming in in the fall here, you know. Which I’m excited about the class we’ve got coming in. It’s gonna be a young group, but I think just the energy level and the kids at the right mentality and the buy-in that we need from a commitment standpoint is in place moving forward,” said Brekke.

Brekke’s first recruiting class was announced a few weeks ago, with 7 new players coming to Canton - 4 forwards, 2 defense men and 1 goalie, an infusion of talent much needed with several players transferring over the past few months.

Brekke says there’s one thing he won’t compromise on when it comes to bringing players into the Saints program:

“The thing that we’ve always said, we’re not gonna sacrifice taking a talented kid that’s not a good character kid and the character for us is at the top of our, you know, intangibles and skill sets that we’re looking at with different criteria when we’re evaluating kids. That’s the one piece that we won’t sacrifice, you know? We want good kids to be a part of our family, they’re gonna represent our program at the highest level. [...] We tell our kids all the time, you’re not just representing yourself, you’re representing our program, our alumni base, the university, you know, the Town of Canton, you know, there’s a bigger picture to this so, you know, getting the right people to be a part of our family is real important,” said Brekke.

Brekke says his first season as the 15th head coach in Saints history was one he took many things from, including the added responsibilities that he didn’t have to focus on as an assistant up to this point in his career.

“When you’re an assistant, you’re so focused on 1. Recruiting first and foremost, but then skill development, alot of the day to day of dealing with the players one-on-one. You don’t really know the administrative side that goes with being a head coach, and I think that’s just the norm that when you step into that role. There’s just so many other things you’re dealing with that are indirectly part of hockey but not directly involved with the team, so that’s just probably the biggest change that- I wouldn’t say it was a challenge by any means, it was just different that, you know, when you’re a head coach that’s something you start to deal with more,” said Brekke.

With a plan in place and a vision for the program, look for Brekke and the Saints to enjoy success in the 2020-21 season and beyond.

Saturday the Men’s NCAA Division 1 Lacrosse semifinals would have been taking place, but due to COVID-19, that’s not the case.

The Syracuse University Men’s Lacrosse team were on their way to Final 4 weekend before the season came to a halt. But the sting of not playing for another NCAA Title was taken away a bit on Thursday when Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse Coach John Desko learned he was elected into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame.

Desko has 5 national championships to his credit and 258 wins in his 22 seasons as head coach of the Orange.

Previous to becoming head coach of the Orange, Desko served as an assistant with Syracuse for 19 seasons under Roy Simmons Jr.

With Desko’s enshrinement, all 4 men that have coached the Syracuse Men’s Lacrosse program will be in the Hall of Fame.

“I think that’s pretty cool, you know? That all four. And think of over the tenure, I’m honored to be one of those 4. It’s incredible that there are only 4. I think if you go back and look at, you know, the hundred something years of lacrosse at Syracuse, to have only 4 coaches try to find another program that maybe has had even twice as many so it’s great to be part of that,” said Desko.

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