From The Telegraph
By Pete Hayes
EAST ALTON – After a pandemic-induced season away, the SIUE hockey team is back and things look a little for the Cougars.
A new-look team is led by a new head coach, one with an extensive background in playing and teaching the sport.
“It’s something different,” said Tyler Elbrecht, who took over as head coach in late July from Taylor Emerick and Nick Edwards. “It’s been good getting back into the team side of things.”
Because of the COVID-10 pandemic, the 2020-21 season was cancelled, meaning Elbrecht inherited players who, in some cases, had waited a year after high school and still hadn’t played their first college game. returning players were rusty as well.
“It was something everybody has had to deal with in some form,’ said Elbrecht, who played youth hockey for the Twin Bridges Lightning before heading off to Junior Hockey. He later played four seasons at Minnesota State Mankato before playing six years in the East Coast Hockey League.
Elbrecht started the Elite Hockey Facility and Elite Hockey Camps in East Alton in 2018.
“Coaching 18- to 24-year-olds in college is a little different,” Elbrecht said, “but we’re laying the groundwork. The players know what is expected of them and that winning games is our top priority. We’ll play the players who can best help us do that.
“We all wish the record was a little different right now, but it will eventually pay off, I think.”
SIUE sits at 3-7 on the young season after dropping a pair of games to Iowa State University over the weekend and splitting Bradley University the previous weekend in Peoria.
“I guess you can call it a rebuilding year,” Elbrecht said, “but everybody has been away from it.”
SIUE plays at Division 2 in the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The Cougars play their home games at the East Alton Ice Arena.
“For us, we’re developing a positive culture and environment,” Elbrecht said. “Culture and accountability, on and off the ice.”
Elbrecht said he wants to pass along knowledge he gained as a player at the professional, college and junior levels to his SIUE players.
“At the levels I was at, it was like our job,” he said. “While it’s at a different level, our job is still to win hockey games and do whatever we need to do to do that. We want to help them be able to help us get there.”
The Cougars also have a 3-2 victory over Illinois State and a 4-1 win over Bradley under their belts.
Connor Chatham and Cole Chatham are working as Elbrecht’s assistant coaches.
The next action for the Cougars is set for Dec. 3-4 in Champaign against the University of Illinois. After those games will come a extended holiday break that will see the rinks idle until Jan. 14. SIUE will play at Maryville University in its return to competition, but Elbrecht said his players won’t be off that entire time.
“We’ll practice and have workouts so players are game-ready when they get back,” he said.
(Originally published at https://www.thetelegraph.com/sports/article/Elbrecht-Culture-and-accountability-for-SIUE-16641412.php)