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Staples winter previews: Boys ice hockey

It usually takes a significant amount a time for a first-year coach to get accustomed to his new surroundings, players and systems he wishes to implement.

This is particularly the case for Staples/Weston/Shelton hockey coach Todd Sharinn, who has to mold a cohesive unit with athletes from three schools.

So as most coaches spend the preseason reinforcing years' worth of concepts to their players, Sharinn is simply getting to know who his players are and which school they attend.

"We've done a lot of off-ice together so I've gotten to know a core of players," Sharinn said. "I take a lot of time and get to know my players I tried to meet as many as I could but realistically I don't know many players very well."

Sharinn replaced longtime coach Ralph Unker in October. Over the summer, Sharinn, a former Boston University player, helped coached the US Junior National team to a silver medal at the Maccabiah Games. He also played in the Over-40 portion of the tournament.

"I knew about the school and its potential," Sharinn said of choosing to apply for the job. "As I started to interview and met the people I started to realize whoever got this job was going to be a fortunate guy. I was fortunate that they went with me."

Staples makes up roughly two-thirds of the roster this term, including captain Eric Zurmuehle. Ian Offenberg, who notched 11 points in six games as a freshman last season, was selected as an alternate captain and Sharinn intends to name two more as he gets familiar with the roster.

Staples/Weston/Shelton, which went 6-14 last season, has a pair of netminders to lean on during the season. Seniors Will Englehart and Craig Gelman both saw time last season and will have to prove themselves to the new coaching staff.

Not only did the Wreckers lose key pieces, such as Wyatt Fern, to graduation, Staples/Weston/Shelton also lost players to club hockey and neighboring ND-Fairfield, according to Sharinn.

Sharinn wants to install a one-team mentality across the three schools as he builds his team from the ground up. Youth clinics will be run at the Westport PAL over the winter to generate interest in the program. Success on the ice would likely do the trick as well.

"We have family on the back of every jersey," Sharinn said. "My understanding was that there was a lot of discord; we want to make it fun for these kids and to make sure I instill discipline and focus. If they play together, trust each other play disciplined we can go far."

The Wreckers will face off against Norwalk/McMahon in a scrimmage Dec. 13 at Westport's Longshore Rink. It will be the first high school game at Longshore.

"We have come up with a few systems that fit the players well," Sharinn said. "It's not easy (before the season) but we have an idea."

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Ryan Lacey

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