The Cousineau Diaries

Earlier this week Broncos Illustrated sat down with the Western Michigan University hockey team's assistant captain, senior Dave Cousineau at Lawson Arena to get the first installment of "The Cousineau Diaries." Cousy, as Head Coach Jim Culhane calls him, breaks down his weekly on and off ice schedule for us. He talks about last weekend's series against Bowling Green, his superstitions, and looks forward to this weekend's series against the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.

Monday and Wednesday mornings 7:15am we've got weights strength conditioning with Bob Vezeau. He's the strength coach for both football and hockey. We will get down there and he will put us through a workout, whatever that might be for the week, usually about an hour long to an hour-and-a-half.

Before the season started we were doing off-ice workouts, anywhere from 3 to 4 times a week with Bob, either running, sprints or biometrics or that kind of thing, plus the weights. Then we were at the rink here Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoons we were doing agility skates with the coaches. Basically, just skating up and down the ice and back and forth. Just skating to get in shape basically, no pucks or anything. Then, while we were doing that we were also having informal scrimmages with the guys. That was before the season started.

Really, before Bowling Green we only had 8 days of practice to get ready for it. So we had 3 days before Waterloo, we kind of went through just basic passing, shooting drills, to kind of get a feel for the puck again. Then, kind of started talking about systems and running systems and that. Now that we've played a game, we've kind of seen, from watching the Bowling Green tape, we sat down as a team and picked some weaknesses that we had in our game. Now through practice, we are working on our neutral zone defense. Just the kind of things we're a little sloppy in the weekend. The offense, the other weekend we're scoring a lot of goals. Everything looks sharp there, so we are going to keep that the same.

So Monday and Wednesday morning we have weights. We will be down there for about an hour-and-a-half and then we will have classes. Personally, Monday I will go to weights, come back home and get a bite to eat and might catch about an hour nap after weights. I will get up to go to class; I have class from 11:00 to 2:00. Two o'clock comes; I run home, grab a bite to eat and got to walk right over to the rink where we have to be here at 2:30 at the rink to stretch. We will stretch, have a little meeting. Usually on Monday's we will watch videos for about a half-hour with the coaches. We will just watch some things that maybe we didn't do to well over the weekend, we will watch some things that we did well and they will show us some things we have to work on. Three o'clock comes we will start getting ready. We can get out on the ice at 3:00, work on individual things on your own. Coach might pull you aside and might work on some of your footwork, might work on passing, might work on shooting, just anything like that. The goalies are usually out there to take some shots and work on some certain skills. At 3:30 practice will start. Mondays is a little more flow, not so much contact. Some guys are usually banged up from the weekend, so it's a lot of flow, lot of passing and skating drills. We usually go for about an hour, hour-and-a-half, done by about 4:45 on Mondays. Then, Mondays I have a 6:00 class, so I will kind of jet out of here as quick as I can, grab a bite to eat again, go to class from 6:00 to 8:00 and get home around 8:00 and I finally have some time to relax. Monday is probably the worst day for me; it's just, not home. You are kind of running between meal to meal. You don't really eat to well because you're grabbing something quick each time. So, 8:00 comes, I usually veg out on the couch and watch some TV for awhile. That's my typical Monday.

On Tuesday mornings I've got, we don't have any weights early in the morning, I've got class at 11:00, 11:00-2:00, so I will again go to class from 11:00-2:00. I will have to run home quick, grab a quick bite to eat and then come to the rink. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are usually the same for us practicing. It's a little more systems oriented, a lot more physical. That's when all the contact drills will be used. That's when the boys are battling. Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the days that guys are fighting for spots, get a chance to go head-to-head with each other and there are a lot of checks and it is pretty physical, usually pretty fun. We will do a few drills to start just to get warmed up. We will have a stretch at 2:30 we will have a meeting after the stretch and then you can get on the ice early. Usually about 3:00 we will start doing systems and work on defensive zone coverage, work on the power play, the penalty kill, forecheck, back check, all the kind of things we usually kind of work on, like Tuesdays and Wednesdays your in the air. The boys are hitting, Those are the long days, those are the days that kind of wear you down the most, like today. Practice ended at about five after five, we were still on the ice for about ten minutes and no one is out there just because everyone is so beat up from practice. Tuesday nights pretty laid back for me. I will try to catch up on some homework usually. I try to do well in school. I don't take it too seriously, but I try to put the work in that needs to be done. I think school is important, I came here played junior while I was going to university part-time at home. I didn't really too seriously, I was more worried about hockey. Got the opportunity to come here on a scholarship and I figured I might as well make the best of it. I am majoring in Integrated Supply Management it's in business. I kind of got a second chance in school, because I didn't take it too seriously at home. So now that I have come here, I try to work pretty hard to get good grades and figure it will open up doors once the hockey career ends because eventually it will. Hopefully it's further away than closer, but I'm realistic about it.

Back to practice, on Thursdays we usually have a tape in from whoever we are playing that weekend. So this week, for instance we are going into Notre Dame. Thursday we will be at the rink at 2:30, we will get a stretch and usually we will sit down and watch maybe a half-hour of tape. We will watch Notre Dame's tendencies, what they do certain players to key on, what their power play is like, what their penalty kill is like. We will sit down and watch and get a feel for how they are going to play us and how they played in the past. We get on the ice at about 3:15, 3:30 on Thursday's and it's usually all skating, not much contact. Maybe one or two drills with contact, but just skating, getting they guy's hands ready for the weekend. We will work on the power play a bit just to make sure that is clicking right. Thursday's we will have a little breakaway belt. We've got a little title belt in the dressing room that we will line up all the pucks at center. Throw some goalies in there and each guy gets a break away. If you get a score you keep going, eventually there is one winner. So a guy will have the belt for one week. Right now it's a D-man. The D have won the belt the for the last, the first two weeks the D have won the belt and even last year at the end the D have been winning. So, it will challenge the forwards, they haven't won the belt in a while, this is pretty bad. I'm not even sure, I could go take a look to see who's got it right now. I think it might be (Andy) Townsend. Probably the last guy you would think would have the belt. Thursday nights we will head out. We have a meal at Burdick's for us, for the whole team so we can get a good meal in us before the weekend. We will get dressed right from here, head up to Burdick's, sit down and have a good meal together with the guys. Try to get to bed early at a decent time on Thursday night. Hopefully there is not too much homework or anything to do; you can just start worrying about the game on Friday.

Personally, Friday mornings I have a class at 11:00, so I try to get a meal in me. I get to class at 11:00, 11:00 to 12:00. I will run over to the rink. We have a morning skate, which is just informal, guys will throw their skates and sweatpants on and just go on the ice and shoot around, do whatever you want. Some guys will play games with the goalies. Just no structure at all, no coaches out there. Just kind of for the guys. I will run back over, go have another class at 1:00. I will go head over, go to that class and then we have a pregame meal for us over at McGinnis. Sit down and eat a meal with the guys and usually in the afternoon head home. Personally, I kind of prepare differently than other guys do. I usually don't like to take naps in the afternoon. Probably three quarters of the team will take a little nap. If we're on the road, they will nap in the hotel before and after. I just kind of like to sit on my computer, listen to music, kind of veg out a little bit. Just clear my mind of everything, just not think about the game, and not really think about anything. Just time to relax and take a step back before the weekend is going to start. We get to the rink about 4:30 on gameday. I'm a pretty superstitious guy (most hockey players are), so I've got a routing that I have been doing for 4 years. From the time I am in the rink at 4:30 until the time we step on the ice at about twenty after six for warm-ups. So, I got everything laid out for me. The way I get dressed, the way I prepare, when I tape my sticks, I will go for a little run, but it's all structured and it keeps getting me in the right frame of mind before we play. I like to take out all the variables and just do the same thing every time, so you can have your mind to kind of think about the game, certain things about the team you are playing, certain things that Notre Dame is doing that get you ready for that. The goalies are usually pretty bad. We've got 2 or 3 guys that are pretty bad. Some guys, their superstition is to have no superstition. They will be all over the place doing things, but you will find as the year goes on you will start to notice that certain people are at certain places. A lot of the guys have routines that they go through and it's just something that, I don't know how it starts, it just makes you feel good before you play, you like keeping those routines though.

At Bowling Green, I thought on a personal note, in our own end we were a little sloppy. I felt a little sloppy myself. It was the first game we played against a quality opponent. We didn't have much time to practice and a lot of times I felt I was spinning around in circles just seeing white bodies flying around everywhere. I was able to calm down from that on Saturday night and I thought, personally, in our own end the team, as well as myself, at home played a lot better. Offensively, early in the 1st period I got a puck up the right board that just got run around, so I just tried to get on net. I love to shoot and I just love to take shots on net and usually good thing happen when you're shooting at the net. I happen to take a one-timer that kind of went in the direction of the net where Vinnie (Vince Bellissimo) was sitting and he just tipped it out of mid-air, got a goal. His first goal, collegiate goal I guess. It was my first real point year. It was kind of nice that you make a good play early in the game offensively and it gets you a little bit of confidence. In the 3rd period I kind of took a bad penalty with maybe 10 minutes left in the game. I think we were down by a goal at that time, I took a bad penalty and they ended up scoring on us. So I was sitting in the box and I am kind of thinking, thinking to myself that I got to do something about it. It's bad enough you get a penalty in the 3rd period when they score on you, you kind of feel like there is this big target on your chest and everyone is staring at you in the rink. So, we were able to get out there about 2 or 3 shifts later, it's about five minutes left and Dana had won two draws right back to me, in a row, and took two good shots on net that the goalie kind of mishandled. We ended up having a third draw third draw in a row. He had won two back to me, we got two shots off and I think their center wasn't really paying attention and Latts (Dana Lattery) happened to make a great move, walks the D, gets one goal. About two shifts later we're down by a goal and coach kind of gives me the green light to take a little more risk and try to create some offense out there from the defense. Guys were cycling the puck down low, I just kind of crept into the slot and no one really paid attention. I was just standing there, all alone, and happened to get a rebound off of a shot around my stick and there was a wide open net, so I just put it in. It kind of makes you feel a little better after taking a dumb penalty that they end up scoring on. So, we were able to tie it up there and we went into overtime. Vince got kind of a lucky goal, but a big goal that ended up winning it. That's two years in a row that we've won there in overtime and it's a good feeling.

Saturday night, the power play wasn't really working on Friday. I think we were 0 for something, 0 for 7 maybe. People were asking about it. It's the first game of the year so we weren't too worried. The first power play chance we had we went out there, Dwyer hits me with just a pass, a little play, it's nothing special, it's just a basic one-timer play. I kind of closed my eyes, shoot as hard as I can; it kind of went in a good spot and ended up going in for us. The second power play right after that, I think Soupy (Jeff Campbell) got a goal, so it gives me confidence knowing the power play is working. I think it gives the team confidence. The 3rd period, they ended up crawling back making it 2-2, 3rd period Vince gets kind of another fluky goal. He just sort of puts it on net; it rattles off a few bodies and ends up going in. Kind of like the night before, for the game winner. So, overall it's a great weekend. It's positive that we were creating so much offense. We sat down and watched some tapes. There were some things that we weren't doing well Friday night that we improved upon for Saturday and there are some things that we're not doing to well on Saturday that we're continuing to work on. That's kind of what our week is. We will watch the weekend before. We will watch some trends that we been doing throughout the year and just try to slowly pick out pick out points in our game that we need to work on, pick out points in our game that are going well that we'll keep working on.

Notre Dame is a good team, they are a highly skilled team and I think their team is a lot like us. They have a lot to prove, they were picked pretty low and they have a lot of talent on their team, they have a lot of the US National kids that have been hot shots their whole life. I don't think they like to see themselves being picked so low in the CCHA race, it is their first CCHA weekend, so it should be pretty good. It should be pretty exciting and pretty up-tempo. They play a certain style to us; they like to go on the offense. So it should be good.

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