On the road with Hill-Murray
Posted February 11, 2011 11:30 p.m. CT
By BOB SANSAVERE
Just after 11 a.m. Friday, Hill-Murray hockey coach Bill Lechner walked halfway down the aisle of the bus about to take his team the 250 or so miles from Maplewood to Moorhead, Minn., for a game. He felt a need to address his players.
I was a guest on the bus, invited along to cover Hill-Murray on its trip to play Moorhead as part of today's lineup of Hockey Day Minnesota games. Anyway, I wondered if Lechner would give a rousing speech, if he'd look to inspire, if he'd share with his players some of the coaching wisdom that has helped lift the Pioneers to the top ranking in the state.
He didn't bother to clear his throat.
"We'll stop in about an hour and 15 minutes for lunch," Lechner says.
Then he turned and walked back to his window seat at the front of the bus.
Lechner can speechify when he has to, but this isn't a team that needs to be fueled by words. It is loaded with talent, including 10 players with 22 or more points.
"We're not a team that has one dominant line," says senior Ben Bahe, who leads the Pioneers with 45 points (23 goals, 22 assists). "We can hit teams with three or four lines."
All those scorers make senior goalie Tim Shaughnessy's life easier. Shaughnessy knows that if he lets in a goal, there's a darn good chance one of his teammates will score at the other end.
"They give me a lot of security," Shaughnessy says. "I don't have to worry about giving up one goal. It's comforting to have those guys behind me."
His teammates will have his back today against Moorhead High School at an outdoor rink. Wayzata plays Roseau in the first game of the Hockey Day doubleheader at the rink.
"It should be fun, especially because it's outdoors," Bahe says. "This is pond hockey. I feel we can handle that."
The Pioneers take an 18-3-1 record into today's game.
This team doesn't just have good players. These are fine young men off the ice, too. All Hill-Murray students must do community service, and hockey players have volunteered at places such as the Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul and taken part in food drives and Adopt-A-Highway programs. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams made the trip to Moorhead, and all were extremely well behaved. Nobody was loud or raucous. When players talked to one another, it usually was in more of a library voice.
"We talk about that (behavior) a lot," Lechner says. "We help get them out in the world. I'm very old-fashioned. I believe in discipline. If you don't have discipline in a restaurant or out in public, you won't have it on the rink. We're not exclusive to that, but I'm too old to baby-sit. We have that talk before the year starts."
After Lechner's talk about how long it would take before stopping for lunch, there wasn't a lot of talk on the bus.
"They'll be praying or doing homework," Lechner says, joking as the bus nosed out of the Hill-Murray parking lot.
Many of the players plugged headphones into iPods or DVD players or texted on cell phones.
Here is a brief timeline to give an idea of how some of the trip was spent:
11:15 a.m.: A player asks to play a mixed martial arts movie called "Never Been Down" on the bus DVD. The movie starts, and there is no volume. Players watch anyway. And when there's a kissing scene, one of the older players yells