Optimistic Paladins coach looks to the future

Optimistic Paladins coach looks to the future

By: WJO

“I firmly believe that as a program that has had a few tough seasons we need to be in a bunch of close games before we can ‘learn’ how to win those games.  We are close to that point and the players in the room can feel it.”  Richard Lim – Paladins head hockey coach

24974  Richard Lim is in his second full season as head coach of the Paladins hockey team. He played five seasons in the Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and followed that as an assistant coach with the Paladins.

Prior to his RMCC days he was a product of the Calgary Minor Hockey Association – finishing with the Calgary Canucks from the highly regarded Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL). The gritty two-way forward put up 70 points and 212 penalty minutes in 158 games played in the AJHL.

Richard came through the Reserve Entry Training Program (RETP) which is currently stood down. (Which is too bad!) While a cadet, Richard, was a member of the Canadian Forces – International Military Sports Council (CISM) golf team. A rare feat indeed for an officer cadet.

Besides his impressive performance with the college hockey program – he finished up with a Master’s Degree in Structural Engineering. When the head coaching job became available – he put a promising engineering career to the side, to pursue his passion for coaching hockey.

We recently caught up with the well spoken and determined coach; he shared his views on the first term performance of his 2016/17 Paladins and more.

e-V: After 17 league games – the team record is: 3-13-1.  What mental approach does the team have toward dealing with that reality and how will that mindset change as the holiday season rolls along?

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RL: While our record does not reflect the competitiveness of our team, there is no hiding that we have not had the results we hoped for in the first half.  The results are a double edged sword, as I think we are a better team than last year, and so do other teams.  Last year I think we caught teams off guard, but this season we have gotten every teams best game.  Teams now game plan and prepare for us, instead of using the game to rest stars and play players that haven’t had a lot of ice-time.

Moving into the second half we have challenged ourselves to ensure our final games of the season are meaningful.  We are looking to put ourselves in a position that our last games of the season will have a bearing on the standings.  This is a lofty goal with the way the standings are now, but we believe we have a lot of games coming up that we can win.  So I suppose, our mental approach is that every game is an important step not only for this season but for the program as we move forward.

e-V: I assume that your expectations for wins were much higher? How do you reconcile the record with yourself?

RL: I think after the season we had last year and with an early win against Carleton this season, we believed we would have more than 3 wins so far.  We have had 8 of our 13 losses by 2 goals or less; 5 by 1 goal, 2 games by 2 goals including an empty net goal.  So it is tough some nights to think of the points that we have let slip through our fingers.  That being said I think it speaks volumes to how we have changed the culture in the dressing room.  We are now in all of our games, and games that a few years ago that could end up 5 to 1 or 6 to 2, are tight one goal games in which we have had chances to win.  I firmly believe that as a program that has had a few tough seasons we need to be in a bunch of close games before we can ‘learn’ how to win those games.  We are close to that point and the players in the room can feel it.

e-V: At first glance the record is not impressive, however, the team played close & tough in most of the games. Is it fair to say that you need a couple of snipers? Is there a chance that we will see a couple of new players in the lineup after the break?

RL: As I said above, we have been in a lot of close games, and had our chances to win.  For most of the first half we were in the top half of the league in both Save percentage and Goals Against Average, something that we had not done in a long long time.  However, despite our great goaltending and defensive play in the majority of our games, it’s no secret that we struggled to score.  I think we have the skill in the room to score by committee, we just need to have a little better attention to detail in the offensive zone.  While it would be great to add a “sniper” as you call them, it is much tougher for us to add players at the break than other schools.  But we will definitely look to add a few players that compete in all areas of the rink and have some great offensive upside for next season.

E-V: Traditionally the Carr/Harris and West Point games are big; what should we look forward too this year? What would two wins in these two encounters mean to you and the rest of the team members?

RL: I think the games will be very competitive this season.  We are headed down to Tate arena this season to face a very strong Army team.  They are having a good season and have been very good at home, with all but one of their wins coming at home.  It will be a great challenge for our guys.  If we can get healthy and stay healthy we stand a great chance of getting a very meaningful win on the road.  As for the Carr-Harris, I think we are due to take that trophy home again.  We beat queens at the end of last season and lost to the 1-0 earlier this year.  They are a great team, after all there is a reason they are leading our conference and should be nationally ranked.  However, as we have seen in the past, none of that matters, our guys will be ready to go.  If things go according to plan for us, that game on Feb 2 will not only be for bragging rights but also for a huge 2 points for the standings for both teams.

e-V:  How pleased are you with the leadership up to this date in the season and which players do you expect to take the reins in the second half of the season?

RL: In my second year as Head Coach, I have been very lucky with the great leadership that has been in the room.  Our graduating players have all bought in and are all in to not only making a push this season but also for making the future of the program bright.  If we plan to accomplish our goals in the second half, our graduating players will have to lead from the front and force our younger guys to jump on board.

eV: Can you talk a little bit about what makes the 2016/17 team different than last year and the years you were an assistant coach?

RL: First I think the biggest difference between our teams the last two years and years when I was here as an AC and player, is how close the team is.  The dressing room is very tight and the guys would do anything for each other.  Having some players move on and bringing in some strong characters has monumentally helped the programs culture.

As to the difference from last year, I think the biggest thing is we are more mature and we expect much more of our selves.  So the losses hurt a bit more than they did a year ago.

e-V: You were a former ‘Paladin’ team captain when you played five seasons for RMCC.   Which player on the 2016/7 squad reminds you of yourself as a student-athlete?

RL: I did have the great opportunity to play for 5 seasons at RMCC.  While my game adjusted through the time I was here, I think the player on the current roster that most reminds me of my younger-self is Mathew Michie.  He plays a very energetic hard working game.  He is fearless and loves to be physical and in your face. That being said, there is no doubt that our team as a whole is much more skilled than in previous years and that includes Matt having a great skill set that would probably turn me inside and out on the ice.

e-V: The camaraderie between the RMCC coaches across all sports is obviously a benefit that you enjoy. If you are looking for a slice of (RMCC) coaching wisdom, which head coach do you turn to first?

RL: I’m in a very fortunate situation with the wealth of knowledge that all the coaches bring to our athletic program.  Many of the coaches have been here for a long time and not only have a wealth of knowledge for coaching but also the process of the college and how to navigate the administrative duties we as coaches have.  I don’t know if there is a single person that I could pin point I would go to, depending on the situation and area of the wisdom I was looking for would decide which of the great coaches I would seek out.

e-V: If you could enjoy a dinner with four sports figures, living or dead, who would you choose?

RL: That’s a tough question, there is so many choices; from a player standpoint, coaching or fandom.  I think the 4 I would love to have dinner with would be, Tiger Woods, Joel Quenneville, Bill Belichick and Joe Sakic.