Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Puck Hog Teams up with PARP


News anchor, author Casciano visits Driver Middle School

Students at C.S. Driver Middle School not only had the opportunity to meet a local TV celebrity Feb. 25, when News Channel 9 anchor Christie Casciano stopped by to talk about her series of children’s books. They also got to watch her referee a hockey face-off between Principal Mike Dardaris and sixth-grade teacher George Mango.

The visit was part of the school’s weeklong celebration of PARP (People as Reading Partners).

“It’s a week for us to celebrate reading, writing and getting lost in a good book,” Dardaris said.

Casciano, who anchors the 10 p.m. Channel 9 newscast, was inspired to write her 2010 picture book, “The Puck Hog” (illustrated by her sister, Rose Mary Casciano Moziak), after years of cheering on her children’s hockey teams. Son Joe, 18, played for Christian Brothers Academy, while daughter Sophia, 11, is on a co-ed team with the Lysander Youth Hockey Association.

During a special assembly with fifth- and sixth-graders, Casciano described how some seasons are “so glorious you never want them to end.” But when a “puck hog” takes the ice, dominating the action and stealing the spotlight, things can get ugly fast. So she decided to write a story about a “hog” named Eddie who must learn the importance of teamwork, selflessness and sacrifice.

“A real star makes everybody shine,” she said.


Friday, February 22, 2013

SportsDadHub reviews The Puck Hog

The Puck Hog – A Great Hockey Book For Kids, Parents and Coaches

by Kevin

The Puck Hog is a great hockey book for kids, parents and coaches.
The best animated films and TV shows geared toward kids also have undertones and story lines that keep adults entertained.

Great children’s books are no different. They’re written for kids, but they have lessons, characters and stories that adults can enjoy and sometimes learn from as well.

A book I recently read with my boys (ages 5, 6 and 9) does just that. The Puck Hog is a great hockey book for kids, but parents and coaches can also get a lot out of it. My boys and I really enjoyed reading this book together.

I’m guessing that by now, you’ve figured out that the book is about a puck hog. Eddie is his name and scoring goals and being a bad teammate is his game.

You see, Eddie is a very talented young hockey player with a knack for scoring goals. Despite the fact that all of his goals help the team win a lot of games, his teammates aren’t having any fun. When the team wins, it’s not a team celebration in the locker room. It’s a celebration of how many goals Eddie scored. Even though Eddie leads the league in goals, he is dead last in assists with a big fat zero.

Good Lesson For Sports Parents

My favorite part about this book is the lesson it provides for us sports parents. As it turns out, Eddie is so focused on scoring goals because of the pressure and expectations his dad puts on him. Eddie’s dad rewards him for every goal he scores. And when Eddie struggles to score against a good team, he shouts at him from the stands, putting even more pressure on him.

Good Lesson For Coaches

The kids’ coach is so focused on winning that he doesn’t seem to notice Eddie’s selfish play. As long as his goals are helping the team win, the coach is blind to the fact that Eddie never passes the puck and gets his teammates involved in plays.

It takes Eddie’s teammate Sophia, to teach him the valuable lesson of what it means to be a team player and a leader.
When I asked my boys what they liked the most about The Puck Hog, here are some of the things they said:

My boys like the detailed illustrations.

“It has cool pictures!”
“I don’t like how Eddie acts. He has a bad attitude and doesn’t think about other people’s feelings.”
“I like the pictures because they’re so detailed.”

Even though The Puck Hog is about youth hockey, the lessons you and your child can learn from it relate to any sport. I think you’ll enjoy it!

The Puck Hog is written by Christie Casciano Burns, a TV news anchor in Syracuse, New York and a hockey mom of two.
Thanks for reading,


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Locker Rooms Present Major Risk to Safety | Minnesota Hockey

Locker Rooms Present Major Risk to Safety | Minnesota Hockey

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate? | Minnesota Hockey

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate? | Minnesota Hockey

What Does It Mean To Be a Good Teammate?

02/19/2013, 10:30am CST
By Minnesota Hockey
There is something magical happening with mite hockey players at the Champlin Ice Forum. As their small bodies fly across the ice, with sticks in hand and sheer determination on their faces, the 7 and 8 year olds in the Champlin Park Youth Hockey Association (CPYHA) are chasing after more than pucks this season. There’s a much bigger goal than scoring on the minds and in the hearts of the players and their parents. The mission is to assist youth hockey players in building skills and character.
One of the main goals of Minnesota Hockey’s Hockey Education Program (HEP) is to assure youth hockey players have a positive athletic experience through skill development and sportsmanship. That’s exactly what’s happening with these mites.
The game plan is not all that complicated; come up with drills and team building exercises to keep the kids focused on skills and having fun. It’s about development with fun at all costs and not wins at all costs.
There are already many shining examples of how this approach impacts the kids. From the mites using fist bumps to congratulate line mates after a great play, to finishing each game with a team huddle around the goaltender.
The focus on fun and development has also generated a passion to improve in the players. It has become common for teammates to follow up practice by spending time in the dry land area working on stick handling and passing, without any prodding from coaches or parents.
This strategy isn’t limited to developing hockey skills though. The team has held regular off-ice discussions on sportsmanship. Talks have included topics like teamwork, discipline and integrity. The results have been awarding for everyone as the team has improved markedly since the players have discovered the joy in assists and started passing more. Changes have been noticed off the ice too, with the players acting less selfish and consistently looking to support each other, regardless of the situation.

What sparked this change in philosophy? Eddie. In the children’s book, The Puck Hog, Eddie is hockey player who never passes the puck and looks to build his ego by filling the stat sheets. As the story progresses though, it provides many lessons showing the value of teamwork and sportsmanship.
Jack Mackeben, a mite in CPYHA, was the first to gain possession of the story. After reading it, he decided it shouldn’t just sit on his bookshelf. He decided to pass the book to his friends and teammates. The story line had an immediate impact on the entire team. It provided parents and coaches with the opportunity to have important conversations on what it means to have character and be a good teammate.
The story has provided everyone associated with the mites in CPYHA a reminder on what hockey is really about at that level. The focus should be on fun, skills and character development. With the help of HEP, they will look to keep those principles on the forefront of everyone’s mind for many years to come.
The Puck Hog author, Christie Casciano Burns, is a veteran hockey mom from Syracuse, New York and writes a hockey mom advice column for USA Hockey Magazine. She based these stories on her children’s youth hockey experiences.

Submitted by Lisa Mackeben, CPYHA

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oh Behave!

How to Act like an Adult at a Youth Hockey Game

as published in USA Hockey Magazine, February 2013

We are a passionate group and often wear our hearts on our sleeves. It's all good. It's when our tongues get ahead of us in the stands that it can get bad and downright ugly. When hockey parents act like children, nobody wins.


"Hit him! You better skate if you want a ride home! Forget your glasses ref ? Puck Hog!"  Sound familiar?

It's a good thing our kids are wearing helmets to help drown out the critical cries from moms and dads in the stands. Yelling at your kid isn't going to make them skate any faster or shoot any better. Having a meltdown over penalties not called and screaming at the referees won't score you any more points either. It will help you lose respect among parents, and if you're loud and nasty enough, it might earn you a ticket to the parking lot. Emotions can run high, especially this time of year, with playoffs approaching. It's not always easy, but parents need to chill in the stands. Your kids watch and learn from you.

There are a number of ways you set good examples of good adult behavior, all while sitting in the stands. Let's say the other team is really struggling. While you may be thrilled with the remarkable lead of your team, imagine what it feels like for the other team and their parents. So temper your enthusiam after the 6th goal and subdue those cheers and claps. Think polite golf clap. Be classy.

Resist temptation to trash talk opponents, players and refs. How would you react if your child did the same thing? If your hockey player does start to complain about how the referees weren't being fair, or the other team took so many cheap shots, turn the conversation into teachable moments. Remind them that the way to succeed and in life, is with accountability, control and respect.


Easy to make and easy to break. Go back to that code of conduct you signed at the beginning of the season. Are you playing by the rules and being hyper supportive or hyper critical ? Maybe just plain hyper. Are you biting your tongue when you see players on your team miss a pass or fail to take that seemingly easy shot ? Lets take a moment and make some promises we will do our best to keep:

1. Make a promise to yourself not to say a single critical word about the officials during and after a game.

 2. Tell your child what they did right and let the coach tell them what went wrong.

How can we teach our kids to love a game when what they hear and see from us is hate?

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Parents Can Set the Tone for Youth Players

Parents have ability to set tone for youth players
Wednesday, 02.06.2013

By Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Life as a hockey parent isn't easy.  In addition to the rising expense of equipment and ice time, there's a commitment to travel and setting alarms for early-morning wakeups every weekend during the travel hockey season.  It's an unforgiving process, but one that can be extremely rewarding for our sons and daughters if done properly.
  "I always tell parents the one thing they should expect out of their kids is attitude and effort in the early stages of learning the game," said Jon Greenwood, the director of hockey development at the Maritime Hockey Academy in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.  

 Author and youth hockey advice columnist Christie Casciano Burns admits there are two areas every hockey parent should take into consideration in the early stages of youth hockey development.
"Punctuality and selflessness in practices and games," Burns told "And nagging parents need to chill … seriously. Let the coaches coach, referees ref, and let the kids be kids."
Burns' son, Joe, began playing hockey when he was 8 years old with the Lysander Youth Hockey program in Lysander, N.Y.

"It's out of control at times when you have parents yelling at the referees or telling the coach who to put into the game," she said. "Some parents have the wrong perspective when it comes to their 9- or 10-year-old player. Let them have fun and build their character, as well as their skill."

Amy Colclough, whose two sons have combined to play for over 34 different hockey teams in the New York area, is currently president of the Baldwinsville varsity ice hockey booster club. She's a firm proponent of providing guidance for those hockey players just starting out.

"Usually, a coach will tell the parents during tryouts that they shouldn't talk to him about ice time since that depends solely on the play of their child," Colclough told "It's also important to be a good listener, because kids hear everything that comes from adults. Parents usually speak out of emotion, and most of it isn't even based on fact.

"I always tell my kids that playing on a hockey team is no different than working a job, because you have to make it work no matter what situation arises. If something upset you, is there anything you can do to change that? If not, than suck it up and take a better attitude."

Even before U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Pat LaFontaine became an assistant coach with the Long Island Royals Midget National team, he asked his son, Daniel, if he wanted him around.

"So long as he gave me the green light, I was OK going behind the bench," LaFontaine told "He liked me coaching and liked me on the bench. The thing is, he didn't hear a coach's voice when I was talking, so I didn't say much [to him]. In some cases, if you're not careful, it could be a lose-lose situation."

LaFontaine was head coach of the Royals for three seasons, winning an Under-16 Tier I National championship last April in his final season at the helm.

"As a coach, you have to be real objective having a son on the team," LaFontaine said. "I tried to talk to the players just as a coach. I had the other coaches talk to Daniel, and it seemed to work in a good way because I think all dads who have 15- and 16-year-olds … we're not too cool. I think we embarrass our kids sometimes because we try to say too much."

Casciano Burns, the author of two books based on her accounts as a hockey mom in the trenches, said one ugly trend she's witnessed in some parents is their willingness to pay their children in exchange for a goal.

"When you're paying them to score goals instead of earning it on their own, they're not going to pass the puck and all they'd think about is, 'Oh, I'm going to make five dollars if I score this goal,'" Burns said. "It's such a bad example. Parents have a great opportunity to become role models for their kids, even their coaches. When there's more positive energy and gentle encouragement to try harder and be more creative out there, I think you'll generate many more good memories than bad ones."

Greenwood vividly recalls coaching top 2013 draft-eligible prospect Nathan MacKinnon as an 11-year-old Pee Wee with the Cole Harbour Wings in Nova Scotia. To this day, MacKinnon still considers Greenwood somewhat a father figure in the way he taught the game.

"You can't control how quickly your kids will develop, and you can't control how good a skater they will be since that takes time," Greenwood said. "But you can control a player's attitude and how much effort they're putting into something. I tell parents to be patient because so long as your kids are bringing a good attitude and effort, you'll see improvement.

"Parents sometimes expect their kids to get better overnight, but each player will improve at a different rate. Give it time."

Colclough feels the best hockey parent will always look to make the game fun for their children.

"If it's not fun, you need to find out why it's not fun," she said. "Is it because they're too tired or is there a relationship they need to work on with a teammate or someone else? If I had to sum it up with one thing, I would say hockey at any level should always be about the team you play for and not about the individual."

Follow Mike on Twitter

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

5 Unwritten Rules of Hockey | Minnesota Hockey

5 Unwritten Rules of Hockey | Minnesota Hockey
Be good to the game and the game will be good to you. Hockey is a special game. Hockey players are special people. We respect the sport. We shake hands after each game. We form bonds and friendships that are stronger and last longer than any other sport. But there are certain things you just don’t do on the ice, and not all of them are etched in stone for all to see.
Let’s take a look at five unwritten rules of hockey.
Protect your goalie.
Keeping the goalie healthy and focused on his/her job is a team priority. Goaltending isn’t easy, so let’s not make the job any harder. Don’t let opposing players intrude on your goaltender.
USA Hockey’s Minnesota District Goalie Coach-in-Chief Steve Carroll says it’s important that the goalies don’t get rattled by unwanted contact.
“I think it really helps a goalie’s confidence to know their teammates have their back if there is unwanted contact,” Carroll says. “Goalies often feel isolated. Knowing they are going to be protected by their teammates makes them feel more a part of the team. Knowing they have the support of their teammates also allows the goalie an opportunity to spend more time focusing on stopping the puck and helping their team win.”
But how far should players go? Hal Tearse, the USA Hockey Associate Coach-in-Chief of the Minnesota District, cautions players who feel they need to take the law into their own hands after the whistle.
“Protecting the goalie is the job the officials and most times when a player is ‘protecting their goalie’ it is after the whistle and he ends up in the penalty box,” Tearse says. “Before the whistle, defenders certainly should stand their ground in front of the net. When the whistle blows, the play is over.”
Don’t shoot near your goalie’s head in warmups.
Don’t start firing rockets near your goalie's head during warmups. The last thing you want is to anger or injure your last line of defense right before the puck drops. There’s not a whole lot of time for pre-game, on-ice warmups in youth hockey. Make sure the goalie sees a lot of shots and gets comfortable. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t shoot to score. But remember, having a properly warmed up and confident goaltender could play a big part in how your team fares in the game.
“Players should work on hitting the net and shooting to challenge the goalie,” Carroll adds. “Goalies need to feel the puck and make some saves during warmups so they feel confident and are ready to play their best when the puck drops.”
Show sportsmanship when you have a big lead late in a game.
Nobody wants to see a blowout in youth hockey. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens. Running up the score sends a bad message to the kids. It’s poor sportsmanship.
Some productive alternatives:
  • Give the defensemen a chance to play forward and put the forwards back on defense.
  • Give more ice time to the players who don’t score as much.
  • Encourage more playmaking or even enact a rule that requires your players to pass the puck “x” amount of times before shooting the puck. This not only keeps your players involved but allows them to work on passing and playmaking skills.
It’s never an ideal situation for either team to be in a lopsided game. On the flip side, players and coaches on the opposite end of the spectrum need to continue working hard and putting in an honest effort. This would be one of those moments that teaches resiliency and helps build character. Don’t quit on your teammates. And coaches – don’t quit on your players. Adapt to the situation, set new goals and stay in control.
While we’re at it – there’s no need to have a big celebration when someone scores to make it 7-0. Keep it classy.
Don’t shoot the puck after the whistle.
First off, it’s a penalty. Secondly, it’s just poor hockey etiquette. When you hear the whistle, the play stops. Don’t shoot the puck. All it will do is cause problems. Not only will it anger the opposing team, but it will also annoy the officials. Respect the goalie after the play is over. If you don’t, you’ll wind up in the penalty box and also start to put your own goaltender at risk for extracurricular nonsense. That’s not a team play.
Don’t shave until after the playoffs.
OK, OK – we realize most of our youth hockey players aren’t flaunting bushy beards. But if you can grow it, why not show it? This is not a requirement by all means, but more so just a quirk that most of our college and pro hockey players share come playoff time. It could be a nice way to keep the mood light and fun around the locker room.
Coaches and parents – we’re looking at you.
Have some other unwritten rules you’d like to share with us? Visit our Facebook page or tweet us at @MinnHockey.

Congratulations to Lisa Mackeben - Total Hockey Volunteer of the Month | Minnesota Hockey

Congratulations to Lisa Mackeben - Total Hockey Volunteer of the Month | Minnesota Hockey


Congratulations to Lisa Mackeben of Champlin Park Youth Hockey Association (CPYHA)! Lisa has been selected as the Total Hockey Volunteer of the Month for her efforts with CPYHA.
Lisa has been involved with various off-ice initiatives for CPYHA. She has used her nursing background to spearhead safety improvements for youth hockey by promoting concussion awareness, helping players get baseline tests, and advocating Heads Up, Don’t Duck. Lisa also serves as the Chair of CPYHA’s SKATE Committee, ensuring players’ academic achievements are recognized.
In addition to those lead roles, Lisa assists with recruiting and retention activities, serves as a team manager and is heavily involved in promoting the principles of the Hockey Education Program (HEP).
Lisa is a wonderful example of the impact volunteers have on our community based hockey programs in Minnesota. Total Hockey and Minnesota Hockey are excited to recognize Lisa’s outstanding efforts. Thank you to all of our fantastic on and off ice volunteers!
Do you know someone that should be considered for the Total Hockey Volunteer of the Month? If so, please visit and fill out an application. One volunteer will be featured each month. That volunteer will also receive a $50 Total Hockey gift card. In addition, five sets of starter hockey gear will be contributed in his/her name to their association, courtesy of Total Hockey. Please contact us at with any questions.