04/26/2019, 12:45pm EDT
By Sean Shapiro; The Athletic
ST. LOUIS, Missouri — You can’t teach speed, right?
That’s the old cliche and mantra we often use about professional athletes, no matter the sport. An athlete’s ability to get separation from an opponent or change gears is often chalked up to natural ability they must have been born with.
But that’s only partially true.
Natural speed exists, sure, but those who have potential to fly around the ice can be taught to be faster. It’s a lesson that helped define Stars forward Roope Hintz, who without a backstory looks like someone you would expect to fit that “you can’t teach speed” idiom.
“No, I wasn’t always the fastest,” Hintz said. “Maybe by the time I was 17, but I wasn’t like faster than everyone. It was training and teaching, everything, that’s how (I got fast).”
During these NHL playoffs, Hintz’ speed has stood out. With more eyeballs tuned into Stars games on the national stage, the 22-year-old Finn has grabbed attention with his dashes and adventures through the neutral zone. His ability to cycle the puck and hit another gear to get away from an opponent, along with his flowing head of hair, create what could be a signature look for Hintz if his, ahem, star grows.
Throughout this season Stars coach Jim Montgomery has spoken about how Hintz’ speed first turned him into an NHL player and then set the table for him to evolve into a true top-six forward, one that internally solved the Stars’ second-line center questions after this year’s trade deadline.
The foundation of that speed was forged in an unexpected location when Hintz was a teenager.
“I was playing in Florida, there was a skating coach and since I wasn’t in school all day I spent more time with them,” Hintz said. “They were teaching me better techniques and stuff. That changed things a lot, I had a skating coach (for the first time), I got better.”
Hintz spent most of his youth career playing for Ilves back in Finland, but in 2012, when he was 15, he spent a season playing for Tampa Bay Juniors in the Empire Junior Hockey League. It was a connection set up by Tomi Haula, the father of Vegas Golden Knights forward Erik Haula, who was acting as a family advisor for Hintz on his hockey career.
“I wanted to go outside Finland, I think that was important,” Hintz said. “You learn some English too, it was a good experience.”
Brett Strot coached Hintz that season and is the owner of the Tampa Bay Juniors program.
“I remember him coming over, he was only 15 and he was just learning the language,” Strot said on Thursday. “But right away you could see he had a great personality and he was really passionate about hockey. He was a good player, he was fun to work with, everyone really got along with him. I actually ran into some of his ex-teammates recently and we were talking about him.”
Hintz left for Tampa somewhat unrefined. After a year in Florida he completely transformed how he attacked with speed and pace.
“Roope always had good hockey sense and good skills, and was unselfish and used his teammates well,” Strot said. “But speed was probably the thing that he was lacking a little bit in becoming an elite high-level player.”
Hintz did specific speed and acceleration training during his time in Tampa. Sprint workouts became part of his routine off the ice and he worked with Tampa’s skating coach, Natalia Zagorodnikova, to make sure he was maximizing each stride and getting the most out of his game.
It was like a golfer re-working their swing; a simple tweak here and there makes everything else go so much smoother.
“It was great timing for him to be here. He was 15 at the time, about to turn 16 later that year. And that’s your speed window, 13 to 16,” Strot said. “You can get faster beyond that, but that’s a critical time for players to develop.”
In 20 games with Tampa Bay, Hintz was dominant. He had 35 points (20 goals, 15 assists) in 20 games and was briefly called up to the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL. The experience gave Hintz a taste of how important his potential speed could be in the North American game on the smaller ice surface.
There is naturally less time and space on an NHL-sized rink. Bodies are confined within tighter quarters and getting to that space when it’s available becomes paramount.
“It’s more physical and faster, you have to win battles to space,” Hintz said. “It’s good, I liked it.”
Hintz only spent one year in Florida, but took the lessons from Zagorodnikova to heart. When he returned to Finland he started working with an individual skating coach there as well, and he started to pop up on the radar of NHL scouts during the 2013-14 season.
A year later Dallas drafted him in the second round, 49th overall, in the 2015 NHL draft. If you ask Stars personnel, Hintz really started to take off after the 2016 World Junior Championships. Finland won gold and Hintz flew under the radar with names like Jesse Puljujärvi, Sebastian Aho, and Patrick Laine stuffing the scoresheet for the Finns.
“He was very good during that tournament, he didn’t get as much attention because of things that Laine was doing, but that was really telling for us he was close,” Stars general manager Jim Nill said. “We had him do one more year in Finland after that, but he was really on the right track from there.”
Playoff performances only solidified that thought. With HIFK during the 2017 Finnish playoffs, Hintz had 14 points in 14 games. The next season he was one of the Texas Stars’ best players with 12 points in 22 contests as the Dallas AHL affiliate reached Game 7 of the Calder Cup Finals.
Now Hintz is making waves in the NHL playoffs. He had an assist in the Stars Game 1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Thursday, and if Dallas is going to advance to the Western Conference finals Hintz is likely going to play a large role.
“It’s exciting to see Roope having an impact, they talk about him all the time watching the NHL network, they are always bringing up his name,” Strot said. “You could see at a young age he was always talented, he had good vision for the game, and had good skill. But getting to the NHL is not easy. He really had to work at his game and it’s good to see that a lot of that speed stuff has paid off. When you’re passionate about something and trying to get to those high levels, you have to work, and he worked.”
(Photo: Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Rookie forward scored twice in series-tying win
by Tracey Myers @Tramyers_NHL / NHL.com Staff Writer
April 18th, 2019
Read More Here
By TBJ Staff
Former Tampa Bay Juniors Defenseman Luke Perunovich committed this week to play hockey at Providence College starting in the 2018-19 season. The Friars, a member of Hockey East, recently won the NCAA Division I Frozen Four in 2015.
Perunovich played with Tampa Bay during the 2015-16 season before playing the last two years with the North East Generals of the NAHL.
“Luke came to us from one of the top High School programs in Minnesota and needed a chance to play in all situations and get a lot of ice time,” said Head Coach Garrett Strot, “For him to make the leap to come to Florida to start his junior career and to have his dedication and commitment payoff is great to see. I’ve known his family for many years and am very happy to see his dream come true!”
“You could see his skill set right away,” said Owner/Head Coach Brett Strot, “The first time I saw him was at our first practice that season and right away I told my brother ‘this kid has some potential’ and to see him go Division I is great.”
Luke becomes the first player to play for the Tampa Bay Juniors to make a Division I commitment. Earlier this year, Roope Hintz became the first player to play for TBJ to be called up to the NHL. (Dallas Stars)
The Tampa Bay Juniors wish Luke and his family the best of luck in his continued hockey journey at Providence.
Parker Elvy - Madison, WI
Jory McWilliams - Bloomington, MN
Ryan Vlaisavljevich - Woodbury, MN
Milwaukee School of Engineering
Brenton Wadsworth - Tampa, FL
Dillon Scammon - Orlando, FL
University of Cincinnati
Perry Giannino - Palm Beach, FL
University of Kentucky
Luke Perunovich* - Edina, MN
Curtis Hansen - Prior Lake, MN
Christian Louria - Wexford, PA
Rochester Institute of Technology
David Tmej - Bradenton, FL
Anna Maria College
Peter Celatka - Prior Lake, MN
Iowa State University
Alec Murano - Whitefish Bay, WI
Concordia University, WI
Dylan Gluck - San Juan, CA
Lake Forest College, IL
Evan Hoffberg - Tampa, FL University of Tampa
by Patrick Williams / NHL.com Correspondent
Roope Hintz needed a full season in the American Hockey League to prepare himself for a future role with the Dallas Stars, and the forward prospect has shown Stars management how far his development has come.
Hintz, 21, a second-round pick (No. 49) in the 2015 NHL Draft, has played a major role in helping Texas, the Stars' AHL affiliate, reach the Calder Cup Final against Toronto (Toronto Maple Leafs).
Texas won 2-1 on the road in Game 2 on Sunday to even the of the best-of-7 series 1-1. Toronto had won 10 consecutive playoff games and also had a 13-game home winning streak, including the regular season, before the loss. The next three games in the series will be in Texas, starting with Game 3 on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; NHLN, TSN2).
"It's good to go back to Austin now with one win [in Toronto]," Hintz said. "We have confidence."
Dallas took a patient approach with Hintz and kept him with Texas all season. His success this season could put him in contention for a full-time job in Dallas next season. Hintz has attracted considerable attention from Stars management and earned the trust of Texas coach Derek Laxdal.
"Roope has taken some huge strides," Laxdal said. "One of his assets is his speed. He is a big body (6-foot-3, 205 pounds) who can skate at a high speed, make plays at high speed."
Hintz also has a good hockey mind and playmaking ability to complement those physical attributes.
He is second among rookies in the playoffs with 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 17 games. He had six points (three goals, three assists) in the six-game series win against Rockford (Chicago Blackhawks) in the conference final. His overtime goal in Game 6 clinched Texas' spot in the Calder Cup Final.
Hintz's playoff performance followed a strong regular season; he had 35 points (20 goals, 15 assists) in 70 games in his first season in North America. He had spent the previous three seasons with Ilves of Liiga, the top professional league in his native Finland.
His 20 goals and 153 shots on goal were second for Texas this season.
Laxdal is not one to hesitate to shake up his forward lines as he sees necessary, but he's mostly left Hintz at left wing on a line with center with Brian Flynn, a veteran of 275 NHL regular-season games, with other players rotating at right wing on the line.
The AHL tests most young players, and Hintz had the added challenge of adjusting to the North American game.
"I have learned the small-ice game better," said Hintz. "It's less speed here, a more physical game."
Laxdal has leaned on Hintz to use his size and strength, assets that he can utilize more on the smaller North American ice.
"His biggest challenge throughout the year has just been playing with that consistency and playing a little heavier," Laxdal said.
That message has sunk in for Hintz.
"It's good when we do that," Hintz said of sticking to Laxdal's message. "We [force opponents to] turn pucks over.
"I try to work hard every day, play my best game, and just do my best."
He has a big fan in Laxdal.
"He has had a good playoff for us and been a big part of this drive, and he is going to be a big part of this series," Laxdal said.
|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE|
|Monday, October 16, 2017|
Team USA Support Staff Also Unveiled
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — USA Hockey announced today that Brett Strot (Tampa, Fla.) will serve as associate head coach and Paul Mara assistant coach (Belmont, Mass.) to previously announced head coach Robb Stauber (Medina, Minn.) for the 2017-18 U.S. Women’s National Ice Hockey Team and 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team.
“We have a terrific coaching and support staff,” said Reagan Carey, USA Hockey director of women’s hockey and general manager of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. “Brett has incredible passion and vision for this team and continues to be an integral part of our success, while Paul has been a terrific new addition to our team with his focus specifically on our defensive core.”
ABOUT BRETT STROT: Strot has been involved with the women’s national team since August 2012 and most recently served as an assistant coach with Team USA for the eighth time at the 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship, where he helped guide the team to a gold medal, the seventh for Team USA in the last eight world championships. Strot was also on the staff for the IIHF Women’s World Championship in 2015 and 2016.
He also served as an assistant coach for the U.S. Women’s National Team at the 2015 and 2016 Four Nations Cups, and a pair of games against Canada in December 2016, including the Team USA Winter Champions Series. He served as an assistant with the U.S. Under-22 Women’s Select Team at the Under-22 Series vs. Canada in 2014, 2015 and 2016.
ABOUT PAUL MARA: The 2017 IIHF Women’s World Championship marked the second time Mara served as an assistant coach with the U.S. Women's National Team. He served in the same capacity for the U.S. Women’s National Team for a two-game series vs. Canada in December 2016.
The defenseman played parts of 12 seasons in the NHL and was a bronze medalist with Team USA at the 2004 IIHF Men’s World Championship.
Team USA Support Staff Also Unveiled
NOTES: USA Hockey's international council, chaired by Gavin Regan (Potsdam, N.Y.), vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams… All members of the 2018 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team are subject to the approval of the U.S. Olympic Committee … The 2018 Olympic Winter Games will take place Feb. 8-25, 2018, in PyeongChang, South Korea.
For more info, contact Andrea Mazzarelli (Andrea.Mazzarelli@USAHockey.org/ 719.538.1169)
Brian Ferlin and Tampa Bay Jr Head coach Brett Strot at NHL Draft
From his Providence (AHL) and is eligible for tonight's game. Read more at CSNN.
By TBJ Staff
Wesley Chapel, FL - Former Tampa Bay Juniors forward Roope Hinz has been called up by the Dallas Stars. Hinz, who has been playing with the Stars AHL team, was called up yesterday. He did not dress, but his debut is expected in the next few days.
Hinz played for the Tampa Bay Juniors in the 2012-13 season. He had 20 goals and 15 assist for 35 points in 20 games. Later that year he was called up to a tier 2 team.
"Roope came to us as a 16 year old and right away you could see his high hockey IQ." said TBJ Owner/Coach Brett Strot. "He was a very creative player and had this passion to play the game and get better."
Hinz was drafted in the second round by Dallas, #49 overall, in the 2015 draft. He is the second player, joining Brian Ferlin who was taken in the fourth round by Boston in 2011, to play for Brett Strot in the Tampa/Jacksonville organization.
Former Tampa Bay Junior Roope Hinz won Gold Wednesday with Finland defeating Russia 4-3 in overtime at the 2016 World Junior Championships. Hintz scored in the semi final win over Sweden to help put Finland in the Gold Medal Game.
Hintz, an assistant captain for Team Finland, played with the Tampa Bay Juniors in the 2012-13 season scoring 20 goals and adding 15 assist.
Former Tampa Bay Juniors player Roope Hinz signed a 3 year entry level contract with the NHL Dallas Stars. Roope played with TBJ during the 2012-13 season with the USP3 team, averaging over a point a game before being called up to the Bismarck Bobcats of the NAHL.
By Brett M Bruneteau and TBJ Staff
The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club is proud to announce its affiliation with the NCDC's South Shore Kings. "South Shore was one of the two teams we were hoping to get an affiliation with," said Head Coach Brett Strot, "They are a first class organization and with us having a team at the premier level now this will only help in our recruiting of top talent."
by Irwin Fletcher
The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club have 9 players on their roster from the State of Minnesota, leaving the “State of Hockey” for “Hockey Paradise” to help further their hockey careers. Players Ryan Vlaisavljevich (Woodbury, MN), Curtis Hansen (Prior Lake, MN), Chase Jungels (Edina, MN), Nick Hames (St Louis Park, MN), Gabe Heifort (Bemidji, MN), Jory McWilliams (Bloominton, MN), Nathan Nelsen (Hopkins, MN), Johnny Ferguson (Minnetonka, MN) and Peter Celetka (Prior Lake, MN) all decided to leave the Land of 10,000 Lakes and come to the Tampa area to play for the Tampa Bay Juniors HC and to play in the tough USPHL Southern Division.
Co Head Coaches Brett and Garrett Strot both are from Minnesota and use their connections there to help recruit players to come south. “I still live in Minnesota in the summers,” said Garrett Strot,”so most of my recruiting is from there and with many tier 2 junior teams having camps there it makes it easier to see these players multiple times. Minnesota has I feel the greatest pool of talent and we will always have our core of players come from there.”
But what makes these players want to leave a hockey hotbed for the 80 degree winter weather? “The weather is part of it,” joked Brett Strot, “but in reality it’s the training that our program does that brings these players south. We really focus on the speed of hands, feet and mind.”
“Coming from the situation I was in at my high school, coming down and a chance to play for Garrett and Brett was an easy decision for me,” said Team Captain Ryan Vlaisaljevich, “Garrett saw me my junior year in Minots camp and showed interest in me right away. Best decision I could’ve made.”
“The competition is great in the USPHL South.” Said Curtis Hansen, “You have to work hard for everything, every game is a dog fight. You can’t go into the game thinking you’re just going to win because if you go into the game with that mindset you won’t win. Anyone can beat anyone which has been proven already this season.”
“I like how we get a taste of a different style of hockey.” Said Jory McWilliams, ‘We don’t know any other players here or know anything about them. Up north I know someone on every team.”
“The players that come down here enjoy the program we run and the play in the USPHL,” Said Garrett Strot, “It’s great giving players from Minnesota another option for their development and gives them exposure to many schools, and with the opening of the Florida Hospital Center Ice we have a second to none training set up.”
Look for the “State of Hockey” to “Hockey Paradise” pipeline to continue.
Tampa, FL - Before the NHL All Stars bring their skills to Tampa tonight for the NHL Skills competition, ten Tampa Bay Juniors players took part in the exact events Friday as the NHL tested equipment and went through a dry run at Amalie Arena.
With the NHL All Star weekend here in Tampa, event organizers needed players to test the equipment and make sure everything ran smoothly before the nationally televised events take place. The players were able to participate in the same events as the NHL players will and did a new event that will be unvailed tonight.
Jory McWilliams, Parker Elvy, David Tmej, Curtis Hansen, Ryan Vlaisavljevich, Luke Zimmermann, Christian Louria, Daniel Seniov, Saxon Greene and Alec Murano each participated in the different events that showcase the top NHL talents. The events included; fastest skater, hardest shot,accuracy shooting, passing and stickhandling.
"Everyone had an unreal experience", said Vlaisavljevich, "It was a once in a lifetime chance. The guys had a lot of fun and the referees doing the events would come up to us and ask us how our team was doing and how the league is. It will be fun to watch on TV and see how we compared."
"It was a lot of fun doing all the different events", said Seniov,"Just being out on that ice and experiencing all of it."
by D Dunn
Wesley Chapel, FL - The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club is proud to announce that Premier Forward Daniel Seniov has signed a professional contract to play for Viking HC of the Swedish Division II league.
Seniov, from Praha, Czech Republic, came to Tampa last season after playing for his hometown team the HC Sparta Praha. Last season for TBJ Seniov played in 44 games recording 21 goals and 42 assist helping Tampa to a Division Championship and the USPHL Finals.
The Tampa Bay Juniors want to wish Daniel the very best on his start to his professional career!
2/14/18 - Wesley Chapel, FL - The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club is proud to announce that Premier forward Jory McWilliams has officially committed to Bethel University for the 2018-19 season. Bethel is located in St. Paul, MN and plays in the MIAC.
McWilliams, a Bloomington, MN native is in his second season with Tampa. After scoring 42 points last season in 45 games, McWilliams has exploded this season with 89 points so far and leading the USPHL in scoring all season.
"Jory has had an incredible season this year," said head coach Garrett Strot. "Bethel is getting a player that is going to step in right away for them and be an impact."
"Jory is someone we've been keeping an eye on since last season," said Bethel Head Coach Charlie Burgraff, "he has great character and we are excited to have Jory join the Bethel program."
McWilliams had many schools recruiting him and felt Bethel was the right fit after visiting the campus and rink. "It felt right," said McWilliams, "I also want to thank the Tampa Bay Juniors. Playing for TBJ has been the best 2 years of my life. I'm glad I chose to come to Florida to develop as a player. I loved the training and the top notch facilities."
"I can't be happier for Jory," said Strot, "He deserved all the attention he got from schools and all of us with TBJ wish him and his family the best as he continues his hockey career!"
McWilliams is the second TBJ player to commit in the last week joining Parker Elvy (Lawrence U) with still more too come.
by TBJ Staff
The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club is proud to announce that Premier forward Curtis Hansen has officially committed to Bethel University for the 2018-19 season. Bethel is located in St. Paul, MN and plays in the MIAC.
Hansen, a Prior Lake, MN native, has played two seasons for TBJ. In 2016-17 he played 41 games tallying 55 points. This past season Hansen also played in 41 games netting 47 points despite missing 10 games due to an injury.
“Curtis has been a top player for us the last two years,” said Head Coach Garrett Strot. “Bethel is getting a skilled player who works hard both on and off the ice. He definitely will add some scoring to their lineup.”
“Playing in Tampa the last two years has been the best years of my life,” said Hansen. “If I was a high school player looking for a place to play juniors, I wouldn’t think twice about going and playing for TBJ. They have some of the best facilities in all of junior hockey and who doesn’t want to go to the rink in shorts and flip flops every day!”
“It will be fun to watch his college career,” added Strot, “I played college with his dad at Bethel so to see him go there was awesome!”
The coaches and staff with TBJ all wish Curtis and his family the best of luck as he continues his hockey career.
Curtis is the 7th Tampa player to commit to a college this year, and the second one to commit to Bethel, joining Jory McWilliams.
Wesley Chapel, FL - The Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club is proud to announce that Premier Defenseman Ryan Vlaisavljevich has officially committed to play hockey at Milwaukee School of Engineering for the
2018-19 season. MSOE is located in Milwaukee, WI and plays in the NCHA.
Vlaisavljevich, a native of Woodbury, MN is in his second season with Tampa. As Captain in 2017-18 season he played in 44 games scoring 8 goals with 21 assist and a plus 23. Prior to coming back to Tampa this season Ryan played with the NCDC South Shore Kings. This season he has played in 24 games with 8 goals and 13 assist and a plus 22.
"Ryan really helped solidify our defense when he came back," said Head Coach Garrett Strot. "He is a tremendous leader both on and off the ice. He is committed to improving every day. I have no doubt he will be an impact player right away for MSOE."
"Ryan is a multiple tool player," said MSOE Head Coach Mark Ostapina, "because of these skills MSOE expects Ryan to have an immediate impact at the NCAA level. Equally important is the fact that he is a high character person."
"It's been an incredible experience." Said Ryan, "The sprint training and skill work the coaches implement has really helped me to improve my overall game as a defenseman. I can't thank the coaches enough for helping me to develop into the player I am today. I'll miss coming to the rink in Tampa but I look forward to my next four years at MSOE."
TBJ wishes Ryan and his family the best of luck as Ryan continues his hockey career.
Ryan is the 3rd Tampa Premier player to commit for the 2018-19 season.