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Appert Well-Prepared to Lead Team USA at U18 World Championships

04/11/2018, 2:15pm EDT
By John Tranchina

First time U18 head coach already has international experience under his belt

Completing his first season as head coach of the Under-18 Team with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (NTDP), Seth Appert is ready to lead Team USA into the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) Under-18 Men’s World Championship, which takes place in Chelyabinsk and Magnitogorsk, Russia from April 19-28.

After spending the previous 20 years coaching in the NCAA Division I college ranks, including the last 11 as head coach at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), Appert joined Team USA’s staff for last year’s U18 Worlds, where Team USA claimed gold.

After assisting Team USA’s staff at the IIHF Men’s World Championships last May, Appert made the full-time move to the NTDP, serving as the U18s head coach for this season. In his first season he helped Team USA win the United States Hockey League’s Eastern Conference regular season title, their best-ever showing in the Tier I junior hockey league.

“He is a detailed coach,” said Team USA General Manager Scott Monaghan. “He’s worked at the highest levels, he understands these events well … so he’s got a good handle on the international scene. But I think the biggest thing is that he really has a great feel for how to build a positive environment in the locker room with the kids, how to get them to view things as challenges that could be overcome, not problems that can’t be solved.”

Appert acknowledged that it was a bit of an adjustment going from coaching college students to the younger teenagers at the NTDP, but he has enjoyed the transition.

“It certainly has been a change, and change can be good if you allow it to be,” said Appert, who helped lead Denver University to two NCAA national championships and three WCHA playoff titles as an assistant coach from 1997-2006. “It’s been fantastic. It’s certainly a little bit of a mindset switch, your focus really goes on development in practice and how much time you spend on skill development and individual player development is higher than it is in college, because of the style of the program that we run. They’re young, they’re energetic, they’re passionate, they’re hungry to learn and to get better every day, and I can’t be more proud of how competitive our guys have been on a daily basis in practice, to put ourselves in this position right now.”

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Appert believes that having already gone through the experience as an assistant at last year’s U18 Worlds will help him immensely this time around.

“It was invaluable,” he said. “Learning the pace of the tournament, because once the tournament gets going, it’s on. You get over there early and you have a lot of days to acclimate to the time change and being in Russia, but what I learned last year is once that tournament gets going, in the preliminary round, you’re talking about four games in six days ... Once that tournament gets going, to win it all, you’re going to have to play seven games in 11 days. It’s a lot of hockey, you have to be extremely well-prepared as a coaching staff and you have to make sure your players are tuned in when they need to be and rested when they need to be.”                    

Another lesson he learned last year is that his team has to take one step at a time and not worry about the pressure to bring home gold from an event that they have recently dominated, winning seven of the last nine years.

“We can’t win or lose the tournament in the first game, but what you want to do is build,” Appert said. “You want to get stronger throughout the tournament and you want to put yourself in position to be successful once it gets to the elimination round. You can’t worry about winning gold in Game 1. You have to worry about playing the right way, playing for your country, playing for your teammates, and making sure that we have the right mindset necessary to be successful in the tournament, understanding that it’s not a one-game deal at that point.”

He also believes that a key to success will be to acclimate to the new surroundings and just focus on playing hockey, not letting any outside issues weigh on their minds, including the attention they will be receiving from NHL scouts.

“Our focus is going to be on making sure that we play the way we need to play to be successful, not getting consumed with the distractions,” Appert said. “There are distractions. It’s a demanding trip, a different culture, different food, different hotel, things of that nature. I think it’s going to be real paramount that we avoid distractions, and stay very focused on the needs of the team.”

Appert also feels that in order to be successful, Team USA needs to receive contributions from a wide variety of sources, up and down the lineup.

“You need all your guys,” he said. “This tournament isn’t won with one line or one player, this tournament is won with depth and everybody needs to contribute, different players need to come up big at different times. I’d imagine we’re going to need both goalies and we’re going to need all 20 of our skaters. Guys are going to need to find ways to contribute, offensively and defensively, in many different ways. Those things are going to be critical.”

Team USA opens the tournament on Thurs., April 19 against Canada in Magnitogorsk at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Round Time (Local/ET)/Results Location Television
Sun., April 15 France Exhibition W, 15-0 Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network
Thurs., April 19 Canada Preliminary L, 4-6 Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Fri., April 20 Switzerland Preliminary 3:30 p.m./6:30 a.m. Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Sun., April 22 Sweden Preliminary 3:30 p.m./6:30 a.m. Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Tues., April 24 Belarus Preliminary 3:30 p.m./6:30 a.m. Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Thurs., April 26 TBD Quarterfinals TBD TBD NHL Network
Sat., April 28 TBD Semifinals TBD Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network
Sun., April 29 TBD Gold/Bronze-Medal Games TBD Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network

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