By Josh Beneteau
There will be a new face behind the bench for the Ryerson Rams women’s hockey team this season, but there won’t be much change to philosophy.
With head coach Lisa Haley taking a year off to be an assistant with Team Canada at the Sochi Winter Games, the Rams have brought in Pierre Alain as the interim head coach. He will serve in the post for the entire 2013-14 season.
“I’m going to bring my passion, I’m going to bring my knowledge and I’m going bring a love for the game,” Alain said.
Alain has 28 years of coaching experience, 14 with men and 14 with women. This includes with the women’s national team, where he has coached at both the under-18 and under-22 levels.
“I’ve been coaching for 28 years and really love it,” Alain said. “I going to make sure I’m a role model for the players and am going to teach them new things.”
With the Ryerson program so young, entering only its third season in Ontario University Athletics, making a coaching change has the potential to be disruptive to the team’s development.
But Alain has a history with Haley.
They coached together at the national level and have become friends. Alain says they coach very similar styles which will make the transition easier for the team.
“The whole [national team] system is the same so of course I will continue what she worked on last year and the year before,” Alain said. “But I’m also going to bring a couple of little things I like. It’s a little different but the main system will stay the same.”
He said he plans to emphasize on the team’s play without the puck and the one-on-one puck battles that occur all over the ice.
Stephanie White, associate director of Athletics, was very much involved in the hiring process. She says that it was Alain’s experience with Haley and her systems that made him the right person for the job.
“Anyone we brought in was not going to turn the boat in a different direction,” White said. “Pierre has an understanding of Lisa and her direction and we will continue on in that direction.”
The players are excited too. Team captain Janella Brodett spoke with Alain a few times throughout the summer, introducing him to practice routines and schedules.
“I think it’s really important to make the transition as easy as possible for him,” she said. “It will definitely be a change, but I know Pierre and Lisa have coached together before and have similar philosophies.”
With the season starting on Oct. 3 against the Toronto Varsity Blues, the team will have a month of practice and preseason to get used to their new coach. This team is still growing and Alain will make sure they stay on track.
“I’ll try to be myself and make sure I’m a role model for the players,” Alain said. “I’m sure we’re going to have fun and this team will continue to progress.”