Streatham Ice Hockey Club will face the Invicta Dynamos in the National Ice Hockey League Southern Cup final on January 15 after cruising to victory over the Solent Devils.
The South Londoners won back-to-back shutouts over the Devils, scoring four unanswered goals at Streatham Ice and Leisure Centre last Sunday on their way to accruing an aggregate score of 6-0 across the two legs.
The Devils are placed second in the NIHL Division 1 South table, a spot behind Streatham who, under the tutelage of player-manager Michael Farn, are seeking to retain their league title.
“One of the best parts of coaching is seeing something you’ve practiced coming to fruition,” Farn said.
“It shows that the guys are buying into the structure I implement and they trust me, which is the biggest thing.”
Farn spent eight years playing for the Milton Keynes Lightning but departed in 2017 after the side was promoted to the top tier Elite Ice Hockey League.
He initially joined Streatham as a player, but in the last year he has made the challenging transition to coaching.
“You miss a lot when you play and coach,” he admitted.
“It’s tough shifting from being just one of the guys in the room, but to help deal with that I’ve focused on what I liked and disliked about coaches throughout my career.
“I didn’t like it when a coach stayed in the changing room for the entire period break, which is why I give the players the first five minutes to themselves to think and chat about what happened before I come in.
“It also gives me a chance to calm down and evaluate the game without overreacting.”
Farn has also taken the time to speak to other player-coaches in the league to learn how to balance the individual needs within his squad.
He said: “Every single player is different; one player is happy to be screamed at and kicked up the backside but you could lose another player by doing that.”
To help keep the dressing room amicable, Farn asks for player feedback when implementing his coaching philosophy, the results of which have been impressive.
Streatham have lost just once in fifteen league outings so far this season and have been formidable in front of goal, scoring 89 times.
“I’m just lucky to have very talented goal scorers putting pucks in the net,” Farn said.
Once his playing days are over, Farn plans to stay in coaching and sees his future in firmly set in South London.
“Streatham is successful, run really well and has a great fan base; I love it here.”
However, Farn’s attention is on this Sunday when Streatham return to league action to host the Milton Keynes Thunder in their final home game of 2021.
Photo credit: Mel O’Brien