FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The way Fresno Monsters head coach Bryce Dale coaches, you'd never guess the Monsters are dominating the Western States Hockey League. And they're doing it by paying homage to the Central Valley's trademark blue collar work ethic.
"Success we see as getting these kids to come in and play and reaching a new level within their game, and go on and playing college hockey," said the Fresno native Dale. "Our winning is a byproduct of how hard these guys in this locker room work."
"He's really in your face," said Clovis North grad and Monsters Winger Kyle Baker. "Not just with us, but how we go out and we compete. We're going to finish our checks and take the puck to the net."
Coach Dale preaches and his players listen. His squad has started the season white-hot, winning 26 of its first 31 games of the schedule.
"We're doing really well," said Baker. "We've got a great group of guys in here. We all believe in each other and push each other every day."
"These guys know how good of an athlete they are, know they are playing in one of the top programs in the entire country," said Dale. "So right off the bat when we step on the ice they're confident and they know who they are as an athlete."
But for the Monsters, it's not just about having better hockey players than the vast majority of the league. It's about using skill to develop an attitude its fan base would be proud of.
"They've got that swagger, and they've got that attitude and nobody is going to take them down," said Dale. "And it's a culture that has gone throughout the entire locker room."
And after coming so close to a WSHL championship last year, Coach Dale knows he doesn't have to worry about cockiness with his squad, seeing as how they haven't won anything yet. Key word there: yet.
"We need to remind ourselves of that feeling we had at the end of the year last year," said Dale. "That was one of the worst feelings that we've experienced as a group. We knew we had a team that was going to go the distance and we just fell short by one game."
"We just want to be ready for playoffs right from the get go," said Baker. "We don't want to have any lapses or anything. We want to be hot right at the end."
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