BVH sees culture change under new coach

When the Boys’ Varsity Hockey (BVH) team steps onto the ice, they don’t do drills. Each activity is instead designed to mimic game time in order to prepare the players to compete against the top teams in the Independent School League (ISL).

The designer of these practices, new BVH Head Coach Peter Russo, has seen much improvement from the team following his “seamless” transition to the Upper School (US) hockey rink, he said. As of February 4, BVH’s record was 5-12.

Coach Russo said he believes the game itself is the best teacher and thus organizes practices around small game-like scenarios at an “accelerated rate.”

“A player will be exposed to a situation 10 times instead of one time,” Coach Russo said, “which means their learning velocity multiplies by 10 in one practice.”

BVH Co-Captain Bernie McGovern ’17 said practices this season are different from others he has experienced, as they involve activities that are more intense “battle drills” than typical skill drills. The sorts of improvements Coach Russo has called for have also made an impact, he said.

“Coach Russo has completely changed how we look at the game,” Bernie explained. “He corrects the little things we do wrong, and that translates into doing the bigger things so much more easily.”

Co-Captain Corey Herron ’18 said Coach Russo has also improved their attitudes.

“He has taught us to be professional on and off the ice, staying mature and composed,” Corey said. “Last year, there was a lot of pressure and everyone was tense, and you could tell that from the mood in the locker room. This year, everyone is getting better because the mood is always so positive.”

The players’ hard work in practice paid off when they defeated St. Mark’s—last year’s New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) Large School Championship winner—3–1 in December, Co-Captain Jack Studley ’18 said.

“The fans were yelling at the other team’s goalie and players, but the fans also cheered us on, and it gave our team the extra energy and adrenaline we needed to win the game,” he added.

Coach Russo called that game a huge confidence booster, and Cooper Wolff ’18 said their strong team chemistry was a big reason for the victory.

“We had a complete effort, and everyone was pushing each other in the third period. We blocked shots and listened to Coach Russo and were able to pull out a gritty, hard-fought win,” he said.

Coach Russo said that outside of skill building, he emphasizes the importance of the team’s camaraderie. He went on to praise his players for enjoying being in each other’s company.

“We have a no-stereo policy, so the players actually have to talk to each other,” he added.

Coach Russo said the team can become “something special” if the players continue to work and want to challenge themselves. He added that he looks forward to seeing the squad’s progress when it plays rematches. On February 25, for example, BVH will again face Brooks, who defeated BVH 0–2 back in December.

“To see the improvements we’ve already made in my first month here was encouraging and motivating,” Coach Russo said. “It’s an exciting time for BB&N hockey.”

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