Attack coach Gill sees opportunity

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Attack coach Gill sees opportunity

Postby Digger on Fri Sep 01, 2017 5:21 pm

Attack coach Gill sees opportunity
By Rob Gowan, Sun Times, Owen Sound
Friday, September 1, 2017 4:25:32 EDT PM

Owen Sound Attack head coach Todd Gill is in a unique position in that he is taking over a team expected to be a strong contender in the Ontario Hockey League this season.
It is an opportunity he is excited to have.
"For a coach it is awesome," Gill said Thursday afternoon. "My first go-around (in the OHL) in Kingston we were in a full rebuild. It was another type of challenge."
Gill joined the Attack in the off-season after spending three seasons as an assistant with the Stockton Heat, an American Hockey League affiliate of the NHL's Calgary Flames.
Prior to that he coached the OHL's Kingston Frontenacs for three seasons, improving the team each year and finishing with an overall record of 85-99-9-11.
Gill also won bronze at the April 2012 under-18 tournament as an assistant coach with Team Canada before serving as head coach of the under-18 team that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in August 2012.
Gill said while in Kingston he was faced with the task of teaching kids who maybe weren't as talented to a point where they are capable of playing in the OHL, but in Owen Sound this year it is different.
"Here you have a team that they put together, and (GM Dale DeGray) and the scouts have done a great job of putting together quality players and a lot of people are expecting us to be one of the better teams in the league," said Gill. "It is up to myself and my coaching staff to put systems in place to allow them to use that talent to become a better team."
Gill was named the Attack head coach in July after Ryan McGill stepped down to take a job as an assistant coach with the NHL-expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights.
It came after McGill led the Attack to their best regular season in franchise history after compiling 102 points with a record of 49-15-2-2.
Gill said he doesn't see the expectations of success in Owen Sound as pressure, but as an opportunity that every coach would relish.
"It is not too many times you can walk into a team that is supposed to be one of the top teams in Canada," said Gill. "For me that is exciting. It is not pressure."
Gill said he is happy to be back in the OHL after his stint in the AHL. He said it is night and day between the two leagues.
"To me the satisfaction is helping a kid, watching, maybe telling him to do something, he does it and becomes a better player because of it," said Gill. "That is where I get my joy from."
The Owen Sound Attack opened training camp on Monday with about 40 rookies reporting for two days of practices and scrimmages. The main camp opened Wednesday with more than 40 players hitting the ice, including more than half that were rookies.
The team's exhibition roster was to be announced on Saturday morning.
McGill said Thursday afternoon that his first camp had been great.
"The kids are enthusiastic, management is enthusiastic and the city is enthusiastic," said Gill. "You add that all together and it is a pretty fun place to come to work at every day."
Owen Sound is expected to have a veteran-laden lineup with the majority of the team from 2016-17 returning for another run at an OHL championship, after bowing out in the Western Conference final last year to the eventual champion Erie Otters.
Gill, who has also played in more than 1,000 NHL games with Toronto, San Jose, St. Louis, Detroit, Phoenix, Colorado and Chicago, said early on he was learning a lot about the players that will make up this year's team.
"You can watch all the video you want and try to get a feel for them, but it is the personalities and the characters and what they are all about," said Gill. "Each day you pull one aside and talk to them a little bit, but overall it has been a great couple of days to get to know most of them."
He has been pleased with what he has seen on the ice so far at camp with the intensity level increasing each day.
"We had the first two days for rookies and a lot of these guys are nervous and a little bit uptight, don't want to make mistakes, so it slows the game down a bit," said Gill. "Every day you can just see they are just getting faster and faster and now that the veterans are out there they even see how much farther they have to go."
Gill expects Owen Sound's offensive system to be similar to last year, but one thing he wants when his team doesn't have the puck is to shut the opposition down and not allow opportunity.
"A lot of teams that are this talented offensively it is run-and-gun," said Gill. "I want to run, but when we don't have the puck I want to make sure we are doing the right things to get that puck back again."
Owen Sound was known for its relentless pressure when the opposition had the puck last season and he wants to see more of that.
"We are going to check as a unit of five and make sure we don't open up the middle of the ice to allow teams to attack from there," said Gill. "If they get shots from the outside then are goalies are going to be good enough to take care of that. We got to get the puck and I want to attack fast."
Owen Sound will hit the ice for its first exhibition game when the Barrie Colts visit the Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre for a 2 p.m. matchup. The teams return to Barrie for a game on Monday at 6 p.m.
Gill said he is OK getting the players into game action right away.
"You get out here and scrimmage and guys take it easy in the sense where they don't want to hit a teammate," said Gill. "You get in the exhibition games and the intensity goes up."
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