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Communication 101

Wednesday, 09.18.2013 / 11:30 am / Jamie Council, MSU Staff

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Minot State Hockey discusses the topic of communication

Minot, N.D. — Everybody needs it, everyone has some form of it, and there’s no one way to do it. I’m talking about communication. From home life, to the workplace, to on the ice, good communication skills are the key ingredients to success.

“Communication is everything really,” said senior goalie Wyatt Waselenchuk, “whether it’s working hard together off the ice, encouraging everyone, or encouraging your teammates. [Riley Hengen and I] try to be loud and vocal out there and communicate as much as we can. Every play you’re going to see on the ice involves yelling at somebody or letting a guy know that somebody is on them. [Communication] is key in pretty much every aspect on the ice.”

There are many forms of communication on many levels: face to face, digital interactions, social media, on the ice, off the ice, player to player, player to coach, coach to player, etc.

“The guys are always texting, if we’re not together already,” said freshman forward Jeremy Johnson. “We always know where each other are most of the time. Everyone always knows where to be at what time.”

The goal is that the message is received, no matter what message is being sent from a simple practice schedule to personality differences and conflict resolution. It’s the coaches’ and players’ goal to touch on as many forms of communication that are needed.

“I’ll use the board to communicate a diagram, and going forward, we’ll use a lot of video, which is exciting,” said head coach Wade Regier. “Other times, it’s just a matter of having a player meeting in my office. Sometimes the message isn’t received, so we need to talk it out off the ice, no distractions, one on one.”
There are also different styles of communication. What works for one person, doesn’t necessarily for the next guy.

“Every player gets motivated differently,” said Regier. “That’s going to be my challenge with the new guys is finding out what puts a fire beneath them.”
Each player has his own style of communication as well.

“I try to communicate with positive gestures. I try to stay positive on the ice,” said Waselenchuk. “Our D-men will let you know, I like to tell them they made a good play and keep everyone on the up and up. I feel like it’s important on the bench to communicate in a very positive way. It’s nice to keep everyone up because everyone’s going to make a mistake, everyone’s going to have a bad play or a bad shift. There will be some goals that I let in that I won’t be overly happy about, but it’s nice to have a defenseman or forward come up to me and say ‘we’ll get the next one’ and vise versa for me as well. That’s the type of communication I try to portray.”

The bottom line is that everyone is human. Problems will arise. Communication complications are going to happen, so another way communication is used is for conflict resolution.

“We’re all old enough now that we can talk through things for the most part,” said junior captain Michael Jordan. “Just go out have supper with that guy that you’re not having a great time with and get to know them better and see their point of view. It really helps to talk through it instead of letting it linger inside your head for a while.”

If teammates are having problems off the ice, it will only hurt the team on the ice. Conflict resolution is a key aspect of communication for Beaver Hockey.

“Get along with your teammates,” said Johnson. “You gel. You play better on the ice when you like who you’re playing with. We’re just a better team and have a better chance of winning.”

From the stands, fans can hear players yelling at each other. This seemingly incomprehensible chatter is what most players rely to make the right decisions in a split second.

“Lots of times, the guy who has the puck can’t see what’s going on,” said Jordan,” so you have to let him know what’s going on, if you’re open, or if you’re not open, or if someone’s going to hit him, or if he has room to skate. You have to be really talkative so they can make a good decision in the heat of the moment.”

However, communication starts far before the players ever take the ice. Off ice communication ensures success for on ice communication. A lot can get lost in translation between distractions and high emotions.

“Off ice communication is a lot more important,” said Regier. “It can be hard with everything on the ice to fully understand or relay the message. Adrenaline is running, and the game goes by so fast that most adjustments on the ice have to come from off ice communication.”

Getting settled into a new season and getting settled with new players and teammates is a lot to handle. Communication is tough now, but will only improve as the season rolls on.

“By the end of the season, communication is a lot easier,” said Regier. “A subtle gesture will allow me to ask if they understand and I’ll know they understand. They find out our expectations as coaches as the season rolls on. Sometimes it’s just a smile and a nod. You allow the players the freedom to make mistakes and making mistakes are a part of hockey and you have to learn from them.”

Most fans only pay attention to the stats and final outcomes of the game, which are the final outcome of all the work a program puts in. However, not many people truly understand what makes a team great. Talent only goes so far. Team chemistry plays a huge role, which is dictated by communication. The communication skills a team holds are irreplaceable

“The benefits of communication are there ends up being a lot less mistakes,” said Regier, “and a lot of players get on the same page and in turn, there’s a lot of chemistry that go along with it.”

Jamie Council
Minot State Hockey
Media Relations Intern