For a program just getting its legs back under it after a three-year hiatus at the varsity level, Manitowoc United coach Mark Persaud has one simple goal. Improve.
United are 0-5 and have been outscored 76-3 but Persaud is pleased with his team’s effort so far.
“We’re getting progressively better both on and off the ice,” Persaud said of his team’s progress this season. “I just want us to continue to grow and function as a team. If we can accomplish that, our hockey will improve.”
Just through five games, Persaud says he’s seemed marked improvement across the board.
“We’ve been playing faster and smarter lately,” Persaud added. “We’re not accepting just being ordinary, we’re playing good, aggressive hockey. If everyone plays to their potential, we can start to change the outcomes of the game more.”
Persaud knew the road back to the varsity level wouldn’t be an easy one, but was up to the task.
“I knew it’d be a tough season,” Persaud said. “There’s a lot of work left to be done in order to compete. We have the deep talent pool or financing of the bigger programs but those aren’t the real issues. What we need more than anything is to develop the proper mindset and get motivated.
“It’s tough to think you’ve lost before you even step out on the ice. A few properly motivated individuals thinking competitively can really change the tide.”
Luckily for Persaud, he feels he already has a good core of players willing to put in the time and effort needed to succeed.
On defense, he credits Josh Zurek and Vince Schad for working hard and always finding that extra gear when it’s needed most. Persaud is lucky to have two talented goaltenders in Ian Herzog and Evan Brandt, saying both bring something different to the team in terms of play style.
He also had glowing words about forwards Logan Jirschele and Jacob Lembke.
“Logan is always positive both on and off the ice and helps to encourage his teammates which is what a captain is supposed to do,” Persaud said. “It’s also been really great to see Jacob develop from a raw player as a minor into a very skilled one with amazing talents.”
At the end of the day, Persaud couldn’t be happier with his group of players.
“It feels good to coach a team like this, which plays as hard and shows as much heart as they do,” Persaud added. “I’d rather coach this collection of players than a group of all-stars from across the state. They’re a good bunch of kids.”