NJ Jr. Titans U16 National vs. NJ Avalanche

Friday Sept. 12, 2008 at WSA 8:30pm

Welcome to the NJ Jr. Titans U16 version of “Friday Night Lights”. We’re hosting a very good NJ Avalanche team tonight as we look to avenge our 3-0 loss to them last Saturday night. We have prepared hard this week at practice to turn the tables on them and claim our first League victory of the season. The Avalanche have started the season 1-2 with losses to both the NJ Colonials and the Philadelphia Little Flyers. They boast most of the top ’93s in the Atlantic District Development Program and they clearly benefit from one of the District’s top coaches, JJ Picnic – who was himself one of the top District players in his day with the Ramapo Saints before his career at Providence College.

Your NJ Titans U16s have hit an 0-3 bump to start their Regular season after a 2-3 tournament record Labor Day Weekend. We’re still feeling the sting of Evan Hughes’ injury (broken collarbone) and this week’s defection of another forward to an independent Jr. B team. The coaching staff is looking to the leadership core of the team to embrace a foxhole mentality as we attempt to shake off the early season rust. The coaching staff has sensed that the players confidence is a little fragile at this early stage of the Regular season and has taken steps this week in practice to instill a focus on short term improvement. This week’s practice emphasis was correcting flaws in our Defensive zone coverage and implementing details of our in-zone Power Play system.

Another busy weekend is ahead for the U16s – The Avalanche tonight, then two tough road games at the NJ Colonials (Saturday) and the Little Flyers (Sunday). Coach Walker and Coach Berzolla continue to be impressed with the team’s work ethic and commitment to learning – we constantly reinforce the need for accountability to your teammates and the importance of believing in each other. It’s been a challenge so far given the early season losses we’ve experienced, but we believe we can turn our record around quickly with some more hard work. We expect our boys to bounce back with three solid efforts this weekend and we have no doubt our record will soon reflect the team’s work ethic.

The key to tonight’s game is a strong forecheck in order to create offensive chances. Our skilled players will need to focus on taking quality shots rather than making the “extra” pass. We have the speed to match the Avalanche, we’ll have to contain their quick forwards down low in order to counter-attack in transition. Special teams will certainly factor into tonight’s game which usually happens when two rivals play twice within the same week. Expect to see a motivated, gritty squad this evening.