Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Olsh Regroups under New Coach

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Olsh Regroups under New Coach

Article excerpt

Considering that Our Lady of the Sacred Heart is only in its second season fielding a hockey team, there were inevitably going to be some growing pains and adversity within the program.

What may have been unexpected was just how quickly the young Crusaders made up of a mish-mash of players from several different school districts could rally and turn a potentially devastating bench shakeup into an amazing turnaround in the PIHL Class C developmental league.

Three games into the season, head coach Jaymes Dougherty stepped down for what he cited as personal reasons and 26-year-old Derrick Smith, who had never coached at the varsity level, took over the role. At the time, OLSH was 1-2-0 and still searching for an identity, but with the change in personnel came a philosophical juxtaposition that may have saved the season.

"As far as the transition, it was a little bit difficult because everybody sees the game a different way," Smith said. "You come in and teach the kids one way and ... I give the kids credit for sticking with us to this point."

Dougherty had OLSH playing a run-and-gun style of hockey, with long lead passes out of the defensive zone and diagonal cross-ice passes through the neutral zone to generate offense. Under that system, the team went 4-16-0 in its inaugural season and 5-18-0 overall when the change came.

"The biggest thing was to simplify the game and the style of game that we used to play was just not suited for this type of team," Smith said. "We just did not have the players and skill for that and when we got the puck up the ice, we just kind of got lost in the mix. So what I tried to do was keep it simple for all five [skating] players on the ice."

Instead of end-to-end rushes, OLSH became more of a possession hockey team that utilizes a short passing game through center ice, sets up the play in the offensive zone while playing a relatively easy box defense on the back side. …

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