Original Article: Drake Berehowsky plays catch-up as Solar Bears’ new coach
As Drake Berehowsky found out last week, it’s hard to sleep in a whirlwind.
Four years after coaching the Orlando Solar Bears in their first season in the ECHL, Berehowsky is back. After Anthony Noreen was dismissed 11 games into the season, Berehowsky was brought in.
He is playing catch-up.
“I got a phone call Sunday night [Nov. 13], made the decision Monday morning and I was flying out here Tuesday night,” said Berehowsky, a former NHL defenseman who had been coaching in the Ontario Hockey League. “One practice and a game [a 7-4 victory against the Greenville Swamp Rabbits on Thursday]. I am exhausted. I am looking forward to getting some rest.”
Bleary-eyed but excited at the task ahead — including a game at 7 Monday night between the Solar Bears (6-5-1-0, 13 points) and the Missouri Mavericks (5-7-0-1, 11 points) — Berehowsky spoke to the Orlando Sentinel.
Question: The coaching change surprised a lot of fans. How surprised were you?
Answer: “It’s always a surprise when you get a call like that. I was thrilled to get it and very blessed and fortunate to have this opportunity again.”
Q: How much of a learning curve is there for you to acclimate the players to your system?
A: “It is going to take some time. I am just learning who they are. Faces and names are not even matching up totally right now. We’re just making little tweaks at a time and little transitions. Hopefully they will understand it and execute it out on the ice.”
Q: The team’s poor record at home has been given as a key reason for the coaching switch. What has to change for those results to improve?
A: “All players might get a little nervous in a big building like we have here. Players have to understand that it is the same dimensions as every other rink. They can’t be wowed or awed by the show that is going on. Our job is to win hockey games and develop as human beings and players. That’s where they have to come in, no matter what rink they’re in.”
Q: Why is this opportunity appealing?
A: “I enjoy doing the management part as well as coaching. This will give me some opportunities to make some trades, to build a team that I think can win.” [The Solar Bears’ first trade under Berehowsky came Friday, when they acquired forward Chris Crane from the Allen Americans for forward Bryan Moore and the rights to forward Rylan Schwartz.]
Q: Some fans might not remember your first stint with Orlando. Give us a scouting report on the Solar Bears’ new coach.
A: “I don’t have too many bells and whistles. I like to play a simple, hard-nosed game. I want everyone to leave here knowing that our team competed. I want the players to know they competed every night. If they do that, for the most part, most nights we will come out on top.”
Q: What has been your message to the players?
A: “I want them to improve. I want them to be able to come and talk to me. We’re going to work on any deficiencies that I see, and we’re going to work on the skills that they have. We want to simplify the game. We don’t just want to be a perimeter team.”
Q: What is your message to fans?
A: “Expect a hard-working team. That’s the first thing. I want to be an exciting team to watch and get pucks in deep and roll around in the offensive zone. I want to play quick defense in our zone. Just because you’re in our zone doesn’t mean we have to be passive. We can be aggressive in there. I love playing a structured game, and within that structure, the players will make some nice plays.”