Opening Faceoff: Union women’s hockey coach Sciba enjoyed Women’s World Hockey Championships experience

Josh Sciba
PHOTOGRAPHER:
Josh Sciba

SCHENECTADY The result wasn’t what Josh Sciba wanted. But the experience of being an assistant coach for Team USA in the IIHF Women’s World Hockey Championship in Denmark will benefit the Union College women’s hockey coach down the line.

Sciba returned from Denmark late Monday, and is now preparing for his seventh season as the Dutchwomen’s head coach. The team began practicing Wednesday, and has an exhibition game next Saturday against Syracuse before opening the regular season Sept. 23 at New Hampshire.

I had a chance to speak with Sciba about his experiences behind the Team USA bench during a telephone conversation Thursday morning. Team USA went through the preliminary round 4-0, including a 5-2 win over archrival Canada. Those teams met again in Sunday’s gold-medal game. Thanks to a smothering defense that limited USA’s offensive chances, Canada won the gold medal with a 2-1 victory. USA settled for the silver medal.

The loss didn’t dampen Sciba’s enthusiasm for being a part of the team.

“It was awesome,” Sciba said. “It was amazing. Just being able to work with those women, [who] I think are fantastic. They’re professionals for a reason. Being able to coach them and have that experience being behind the bench with them was awesome. I think we played really well as a team. Certainly, we wanted to see a better result at the end. But I thought it was just awesome.

“I think the other thing, too, that’s cool about it is we ask our players to kind of get out of their comfort zone a little bit. I think for me, it’s a good test for me to be able to be around such high-profile women and athletes and just be able to experiment and coach and teach them and bring what I learned from from ‘Wrobo’ [John Wroblewski] the head coach there, and bring some things back to our team that can make our team better, too.”

Being a part of such a high-profile team should benefit Sciba when he goes on the recruiting trail. And it also helps the school nationally from the publicity Team USA garners.

“I want our players and I want our recruits to know that somebody representing their country and being part of a national program is something that’s possible here at Union,” Sciba said. “Whether it be from a coaching perspective, whether it be from a playing perspective, it’s something that it’s important to me, and I want our players to know if that’s something that’s a goal of theirs, it’s certainly a goal of mine, and I want to help do everything I can to put kids on national teams and be part of their country’s teams.

“Certainly from a recruiting perspective, when I can have that experience and know first-hand what it’s like and what those athletes are going through, it’s going to help me be able to coach them in certain ways that we’ll prepare them for that down the line. I think as we get into this [athletic] scholarship era, certainly we’re going to have more kids on campus that they’ve either have been part of that, or that’s something that’s a goal of theirs. I want to put myself in a position to be able to teach them and get them the exposure that they need.”

Sciba praised Canada for the way it shut down Team USA’s offense, which had averaged 8.67 goals per game in the first six games of the tournament. USA scored 10 or more goals in a game three times.

“There wasn’t much room to do much of anything in the game,” Sciba said. “I think both teams played pretty well defensively. Certainly [Canada] took advantage of the second-period long change, neutral-zone thing and then took advantage of special teams situation. We had some great chances. I think certainly we want to continue to improve that net-front presence. … Both teams played pretty heavy and played a pretty aggressive style.”

PRACTICE UNDERWAY

The Dutchwomen held their first practice of the season Wednesday night at Messa Rink. With the exhibition game against Syracuse looming next Saturday, Union doesn’t have much time to get ready for the season.

And the Dutchwome have a tough schedule to start the season. Their first eight games are on the road, including the ECAC Hockey openers at Clarskon on Oct. 28 and at St. Lawrence on Oct. 29.

“We’re trying to teach them,” Sciba said. “We’re doing some video this week, we’re pro practicing. Every day is going to be touching on something new and just trying to get better every day. We’re looking at it as not just the exhibition game, but we’ve got six non-conference games on the road through these first four to six weeks. We’ve got some time where we can build for that first conference game against St. Lawrence and Clarkson. We’re just trying to build up into that and try and get better a little bit each day and implement our new players, try and find line combinations that are working and just continue to get better and better.”

SCHACHTE DIES

Dan Schachte, a former NHL linesmen who later worked for Hockey East, died Tuesday, Hockey East announced. He was 64.

Schachte, a native of Verona, Wisconsin, worked 2,009 games in the NHL from 1982 to 2012. He also worked five Stanley Cup finals (1997, 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2002).

After retiring from the NHL, Schachte joined Hockey East as its Coordinator of Men’s Officials. He retired in 2020.

Schachte is survived by his wife Kim and four children.

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