Pavelek, Minney and Khodorenko "excited" to be reunited with Cole
For seniors forward Dylan Pavelek, goaltender Ed Minney, and sophomore forward Patrick Khodorenko, this is not their first time playing underneath new head coach Danton Cole.
All three players played for USA National Team Development Program during the time under Cole. For Minney, playing under his former coach brings in new opportunities for this team.
“I’m pretty excited,” Minney said. “I haven’t played with him in a couple of years, but I know what he is going to bring to the table.
Minney played for the USANTDP U-18 team in 2013-2014 along with Pavelek with a record of 22-9-1. He helped the team to win a gold medal in Finland going 2-0-0 in the tournament having a perfect 1.000 save percentage.
From his previous experience with the new coach, there is one thing that Cole does not accept from any player whether it’s on the ice or off it and that is mediocre playing.
“He doesn’t accept any mediocre play or work ethic especially,” Minney said. “I think going into this year, he is trying to change the attitude that everyone needs to work their bags off every single day and go out there and do whatever it takes to win games.”
While playing for the USANTPD, Pavelek scored 11 goals and six assists in 60 games in 2013- 2014. He also played on the U-17 team, but missed a majority of the season due to an injury.
Heading into the new season, he feels confident that Cole will push the team to where they need to be. For this team, this is the type of coach that they need.
“He’s going to be hard on us and push us to the best that we can be every single day,” Pavelek said. “I think that will be good for our program and the program moving forward.”
Khodorenko played for both the U-17 and U-18 program where he recorded 13 points with seven goals and six assists, with four of those points against NCAA Division I teams.
After playing for Cole before coming to MSU, he looks forward to going back to playing his coach’s system as a Spartan.
“I think he’ll bring his own systems that I enjoyed playing that I thought worked at the USA program,” Khodorenko said. “Kinda his system and the way he thinks the game is.”
With playing under Cole, Pavelek had many memories with him. For him, there is one piece of advice from his coach that always stuck with him and still thinks about to this day.
“Take responsibility for your own development,” Pavelek said. “That was our biggest thing playing at USA under him and that’s something that he preaches all the time. He can’t make you get better, you’re going to make yourself get better.”
Cole played for the Spartans during 1985-1989 and began coaching in 1999 with the Grand Rapids Griffins. After coaching for the Griffins, he went on to coach at three other universities before his coaching career with the USANTDP team in 2010.
While getting ready to start as the new coach, this brings him back to the USA program with excitement.
“I think one thing I've kind of gone back to the NTDP mentally a few times,” Cole said. “It's real similar, I think, in terms of starting out with a U-17 group because you get real excited.”
Heading into the new season, Cole looks to focus on the offensive side for the team.
Each team that he has coached has different styles of play. His main focus is on what the team needs at that time compared to other coaching styles he has done in the past.
“I always like to score more goals than the other team offensively,” Cole said.“So my offensive philosophy is, like I said, what fits for this group right now, not so much what I'd like to see. So that's how it would look for us to play.”
Cole compared his coaching style to current head coach for the Toronto Maple Leafs Mike Babcock. He tries to run tight and intense practices.
Heading into his final season as a Spartan, Pavelek feels honored to play under him one last time before graduating.
“I’m just excited about the season especially with him coming in,” Pavelek said. “I wish I had him for longer just because I played for him and I know what he is about. I think he is good and he is going to develop our team. We’re going to be pretty good this year.”