Holy Name hockey coach shares simple, successful philosophy for winning

By Robert Rozboril, Northeast Ohio Media Group on January 17, 2014 12:10 p.m.

Holy Name's Joe Meehan, pictured at left during a game against Rocky River, has been among the Green Wave's top offensive players. (John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer)

Holy Name’s Joe Meehan, pictured at left during a game against Rocky River, has been among the Green Wave’s top offensive players. (John Kuntz, The Plain Dealer)

PARMA HEIGHTS, Ohio — The Holy Name hockey team is on a roll as of late. It is 3-0 in its last three games against fellow Great Lakes Hockey League opponents, two of which are ranked higher than the Green Wave in the most recent state poll: No. 4 Lake Catholic and No. 1 St. Ignatius.

Holy Name defeated Lake Catholic, 5-1, on Jan. 4 and then Gilmour, 5-2, on Jan. 10. But the most impressive league victory came when the Green Wave beat top-ranked St. Ignatius, 3-2, last Saturday.

Holy Name is ranked sixth and is 4-1 in the league and 10-5-4 overall.

Since summer workouts began, coach Tim Sullivan’s players have understood, very clearly, what their team’s goal is – “play as hard as you can and the best that you can as a team, every game.”

It seems simple but it has worked well for the Green Wave.

“Physically I know that we can play with anybody in the state,” Sullivan said. “And when we’re on point, mentally, we’re a tough team to compete with. There are times that we’ve just found a way to win as a team.”

One example was its victory against the Wildcats. With 0.8 seconds left in the third period of a tie game, Tim Higginbotham found the back of the net to give his team the win.

His teammates showed an impressive ability to not let the pressure get to them in the contest as St. Ignatius scored with 54 seconds left in regulation to tie it at 2-2.

Higginbotham, Joe Meehan and Jeff Kett have been among the most productive offensive players for the Green Wave.

“There’s a reason they are the No. 1 team in the state right now,” Sullivan said, talking about the Wildcats and the kind of mental toughness it took for his players to stay focused and not get rattled late in the game.

Sullivan said that he loves how the GLHL, in its inaugural season, offers his team a challenge every time it plays a league opponent.

“You never get a night off,” he said.

The team’s only league loss came against Walsh Jesuit, 4-1, on Nov. 23. The Warriors are in first place in the GLHL and are ranked fifth in the state poll. A rematch between the two teams is scheduled for Jan. 28 at Ries Ice Rink in Parma.

Sullivan said he believes his group of players is a different team from when it last faced the Warriors. A December road trip to play several teams in Canada as part of the St. Michael Invitational in Niagara Falls did wonders to help the team grow.

“You have to go through some downs to get the ups,” Sullivan said. “We learned a lot about of our team in Canada.”

Holy Name’s next contest is a nonleague matchup against Shaker Heights at 9:15 p.m. on Friday at Ries Ice Rink.