WNY Athletics

Ziegler Returns to Lead Iroquois/Alden

Duke Ziegler began coaching high school hockey 30 years ago at Williamsville South. After a 7-year stint as an assistant with the Nichols varsity team, Ziegler returns to the Fed, taking over as head coach at Iroquois/Alden (IA).

The IA hockey team begin just their second season of Fed play after finishing 6-13-0 last year.

Ziegler has a solid core returning which should help him in laying the foundation for future success.

Skaters Mitchell Carlson, Colin Harrington, Aaron Wojtkowiak and goaltender Nick Capozzi make up a solid core. Key additions are 10th grader Sam Staerker, Ethan Iozzia and Braden Axelson. Another piece of the puzzle is Tyler Birrd, a three-sport athlete who plays defense and is described by his coach as “a great leader.”

“This year’s team will be taking the approach of one game at a time,” Ziegler said. “We will work hard at practice on our systems and try to convey that in our games.”

Iroquois/Alden had just 19 players last year and are now up to 21, so the program is growing and a winning culture could have an even bigger impact in years to come.

“For me, the character of an athlete is everything. You can have skill but sometimes that can only take you so far,” Ziegler said. “With a team that believes in each other and cares for each other every night, anything can happen. It’s about building a positive culture both on and off the ice, that helps teams succeed!”

Ziegler believes a lot of the work in the off-season could set up better results this season. “Our dry-land program should help in the long run, but it’s a growing process for us all. I think this year’s team can surprise. I think we are a nice little secret but I respect all our coaches in this league and just look forward to this opportunity to coach this season. Being a teacher in the building also helps grow connections with the kids that should carry onto the ice. I think building a culture of trust and having the players understand what your expectations are can take the team a long way.”

Iroquois/Alden dropped their first two games (Depew, 6-2, and Williamsville East, 4-1). They’ll face-off with Amherst this afternoon at Holiday Twin Rinks.

Ziegler knows that it is not necessarily how you start but how you finish. After Amherst, IA will play four very tough opponents in Frontier, West Seneca East, Bishop Timon and Kenmore West. That’s a difficult stretch of games for any team to go through.

“We will use our team speed to try and set the tempo of games. With strong goaltending we should be in every game we play,” Ziegler said.

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