Photo by Rena Laverty
In his second season with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, Tanner Latsch has taken to heart some words of advice from his head coach, Seth Appert. It’s a simple reminder that he focuses on each and every day whether he is on the ice or in the weight room.
“If you are not willing to put in the work, you will never be successful,” Latsch said, quoting his coach’s advice. “My whole life I have been the best player on all my teams. Coming into this [the NTDP], everybody is good. It’s easy to slack away from what you are doing when everybody is good here.
“I obviously want to be the best and I have to remember that and put it into the back of my head, that I have to do what I have to do to be my best.”
After finishing with six goals and 12 points in 51 games in his Under-17 season, Latsch went into the May training period knowing what the stakes were for him. He spent six weeks with his teammates, training to get ready for his final season with the red, white and blue. He took away some important lessons from that training period.
“As a whole, we realized the identity that we needed as a team to be successful,” he said. “We are not going to be that skilled team, rather we are going to have to outwork everybody. We really adapted to that in our spring training with Brian [Galivan, NTDP director of sports science]. We have made tremendous progress.”
This training really helped him realize how much his game has grown, just over the course of the last year. It makes him realize just how much Appert’s words ring true and work really pays off.
“We are here five days a week, practice two hours a day,” Latsch said. “We lift, and each day, we are here to give ourselves that opportunity that we are best in the world. Not many programs offer that. We are grateful for the opportunity we get, and we need to take full advantage of it.”
For Latsch, he is already noticing a big difference in his game this season. He credits that in part to adding seven pounds of lean muscle to his 6-foot-2, 189-pound frame.
“I’m bigger, faster and stronger,” he said. “It’s easier to work in the corners and you are not getting pushed around as much.
“I’m making the game simpler, especially in the [United States Hockey League]. That was our biggest opponent last year, but this year, it is the college teams. I think playing against the college guys, who are bigger and older, it is going to make us as a whole stronger and better as we go on. Plus, we are learning the pace of the game.”
Photo: Rena Laverty
It also has made it easier for Latsch that he has the comforts of living with his mom again this year. The mother and son have a very special relationship.
“My mom and I have been very close my entire life,” he said. “She has always been there and has always been around my hockey career. I am very comfortable to talk to her about anything that is going on. She is always there for me and always will be. It’s very nice. She likes to make us steak, potatoes and corn.”
Latsch’s dad and brother live in their hometown of Muskegon, Michigan, but they come out to Plymouth as much as they can to watch him play. Plus, they get to see him when the team plays at the USHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks, including an 11-8 win on Sept. 20.
Photo by Rena Laverty
“My dad and brother were able to come watch me play when we played at Ferris State [on Oct. 8],” he said. “They try to come down here every three to four weeks, as much as they can. My brother plays football now so it’s tougher than that first year. He is 6-foot-4, 250 pounds and he just turned 16. I don’t mess with him too much.”
Latsch and his teammates have three more games left before the squad heads off to its first international tournament of the season, the Five Nations in Sweden. He is looking forward to the first trip to see how much the team has improved since last year in international play.
“We have to be willing to play our game, be dominant with the puck in the corners,” said Latsch. “Obviously, we are not going to be a stick-skilled team, but we are going to have to outwork them and grind. Let our skill take over from there.”
Just like Coach Appert says, Latsch knows that if he continues to work hard good things will happen.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.