Chuck Wight is entering his first full season as the Rockets head coach-GM. Bill Pringle photos
Chuck Wight had never taken over a bench as head coach in-season before.
So when the Golden Rockets board of directors made the decision to appoint Wight the head coach near the end of the season, he took the approach of “OK, lets see what we can do with what we’ve got left.”
Wight, who has been a head coach most of his career, didn’t make many changes other than tinkering with the lineup to inject more offence. He also made tweaks to the special teams.
“Defensively we had done quite well. If you look at the last few games, we started really getting it. Playing that higher tempo style of game,” says Wight, who has been working hard to put the finishing touches on a roster for this season. “Last three games had a lot of offence going. The chemistry started to work. There were some injuries there too. (Bryce) Trimmer unfortunately got injured right away. That kind of really hurt us. His line had done quite well. Had him with (Dominic) Turner and (Connor) Funke and they really gelled. Took off offensively”
Wight is focused on his team playing a high tempo style, but he says he has to look at what his roster looks like before deciding on the style. Currently the Rockets have a fast group that they are excited about.
“If you’ve got the puck, then you don’t need to be the team always looking for the big hits,” says Wight, who spent most of time coaching in Denmark and won a national U20 Championship with Odense Ishockey Klub (OIK) Bulldogs. “How did you get the puck in the first place? I would say we would be a strong checking team. That’s how you are going to get the puck. If that requires physical play, then we’ve got a very big blue line coming back this year. It will be tough to get to our net. The transition game is where the speed comes in.”
Having spent time in Denmark, Wight noticed most organizations wanted skating teams for the bigger ice surfaces. In Canada, with the smaller ice, most teams want to be a physical, grinding style. Wight also did skill development for OIK.
“With us now, I find that as a Canadian style of hockey, that higher tempo, we’ve learned to play that style of game at a great level,” he says, mentioning the World Juniors and Olympics. “We know how to do it. Trying to get to that point where tempo and pace can have an impact on the result.”
With the playoffs unknown at the moment, Wight looks forward to developing the athletes to help them reach their best potential.
“We get them there and good things happen to them. Good things happen for our program,” Wight adds. “Let’s raise their hockey IQ. I’ve worked a lot in skill development, so we’re going to raise their skating level and their puck control, shooting as much as we can.”
Wight has experience working with 17- to 19-year-olds in the semi pro and pro levels in Denmark. He says that helped him learn how to work with younger athletes.
Wight also looks forward to getting the competition going.
He’s also working towards trying to change the culture in Golden. He wants to get them to where they are known for moving players on. They come to Golden and feel they have become better citizens and hockey players.
“It’s a great town to be in. The culture here, they are very supportive of this program,” says Wight. “Players will learn to appreciate it.”