Atlantic Youth Hockey League



Interview with Alex Vasko

AYHL sat down with Coach Alex Vasko, head coach of the 15 Pure Division WB/Scranton Jr. Knights, to learn more about his coaching style and philosophies, how his team invests in their players, as well as what makes the Knights different from the other programs in the AYHL.

“My coaching style has changed a lot throughout my almost 20-year coaching career, but one thing that did not change is the expectation of 100% dedication and commitment from my players and myself as a coach during practices and the games,” Vasko explained. “Working with AAA players requires a lot to keep my players focused and challenged every minute. My number one priority is to create an environment where each player can work on their skills non-stop. I want my players to know that every shift of the game is extremely important, and there is a lot that could be done during those two minutes of ice time if we all stay focused and dedicated.”

Coach Vasko knows that when demanding that kind of effort from his players, it’s incredibly important to put that effort back into them. “The development of our players at WBS Jr. Knights is our highest priority. We are lucky to have hockey programs for all ages and levels of abilities at our rink. Many of our players start skating very early, such as 4-5 years old, and some start later, but regardless of when they start, everyone can find the program that fits their personal needs and goals.” Vasko also believes that surrounding his players with people of diverse skillsets and backgrounds is immensely beneficial to their development. “We also attract a lot of non-local players to our club, including international players, which brings nice diversity and competition to our area and enables us to take players’ development to the highest level and to compete with AAA AYHL teams.”

So, what is the average practice like as a Jr. Knight? “Our goal is to create an environment that will be beneficial to every player. At our team practices, we focus on teamwork, positioning, and game tactics. The practices include drills that we expect players to use in real-game situations.” 

Like any good leader, Coach Vasko isn’t just committed to developing his Knights as hockey players, but as people too. “Off the ice, we have engaged players in off-ice physical and mental strength staining, video game analyses, community work, and fun activities that enable players to bond outside of ice/practice situations. Developing an overall athlete as opposed to the greatest hockey player is our main approach at WBS Jr. Knights…it’s truly a unique organization.” 

Located in a “rural” location, he contends that the Knights have “much more limited” resources compared to some of the other clubs in AYHL. However, Vasko credits his players and their families’ passion and connection to hockey for much of the success that his team enjoys. “We run on local families’ initiatives, striving to see our kids succeed and enjoy the game of hockey… resources are much more limited, which demands more creativity and motivation for our training and player development approach, ensuring we work closely with every single player that joins our club.”

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