Wednesday, July 1, 2015 - Submitted by Bernard McNamara
After 10 losses in a row, the Sydney Ice Dogs found themselves in unfamiliar territory this season. Change was inevitable and it came in the form of a new head coach. On the 14th of June, before their home game against the Bears, the Sydney Ice Dogs announced Mario Passarelli as the teams new head coach, replacing Anders Jespersen.
Passarelli has been tasked with guiding a youthful Ice Dogs squad through the remainder of season 2015 and ensuing that the right building blocks are put in place for a successful Ice Dogs future.
“We have a young team, so discipline and keeping everyone on the same page is going to be a big thing,” said Passarelli. “Basically we need all our guys to know their roles and have everyone play as a team to get the wins.”
Passarelli, who was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan USA, was a goalie in his junior career and has played in the East Coast Hockey League (ECHL). This year he was invited to be the Team USA backup goalie at the recent USA v Canada Ice Hockey Classic for the Sydney event.
Earlier in 2015, Passarelli suited up for the Sydney Bears as both a skater and a goalkeeper, possibly the only player to have been a skater, goalie and coach in the same AIHL season. With his multi-faceted skillset, Passarelli brings a new style of hockey to the Ice Dogs dressing room.
“Each game in this league is going to be different and each team plays a different style,” Passarelli said. “My job is to have an individual strategy for each team and to do my homework on team, which is crucial for me.”
Passarelli’s appointment paid instant dividends for the club, in his first game as head coach the Ice Dogs delivered their best performance of the season, holding off a late charge by the Sydney Bears to clinch the team first win a shootout.
“It was a great win for us,” said Passarelli. “For me, [going] into the dressing room, it was all about a fresh start.”
The first win of the season was the boost the team and the Ice Dogs fans needed.
“Some changes had to happen and we’re starting to look like a complete team,” said Passarelli. “Tonight we had to come out and play a full game. In some stages we were up and in other stages we were down but we have to play a three full periods and that’s what it takes to win.”
Since their shootout heroics, wins haven’t been bene easy to come to by, the team has struggled for goals but have produced greater consistency to be more competitive than they were in the early stages of the season.
The Ice Dogs will have a chance to get back their winning ways when they face the Sydney Bears at the Penrith Ice Palace this Saturday night. This will be third meeting between the cross town rivals, which has been labelled the #Battleofsydney. With the season series tied at 1-1, fans are sure to be treated to the fast and furious ice hockey action