Tuesday @ The Rink

CHAT LIVE With Alabama-Huntsville Head Coach Doug Ross

Welcome to the CSTV.com moderated chat room!

On Tuesday, March 20 at 1:00 ET, Alabama-Huntsville head coach Doug Ross enters the chatroom at "Tuesday @ The Rink", presented by CSTV.com and USCHO.com. Ross's CHA champion Chargers take on Notre Dame Friday in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Doug Ross

After 25 years at the helm of the Alabama-Huntsville Chargers, Doug Ross will official call it a career at the end of the 2006-07, which seems to just keep on going. The Chargers won the College Hockey America title on March 11 by rallying from a 4-0 deficit to beat Robert Morris in overtime, 5-4, and will now face the University of Notre Dame in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Ross enters the weekend with a career coaching record of 510-303-45 in 27 seasons. That record includes two NCAA Division II championships, including one that capped off an undefeated 26-0-3 campaign in 1996. In the Division I era at UAH, Ross has guided the Chargers to three CHA titles, the most recent coming earlier this month.

As a player at Bowling Green, Ross was a first team all-CCHA performer at right wing, and went on to play with the U.S. Olympic Team in 1976 in Innsbruck Austria. 20 years later, Ross was an Olympic torch runner as the torch made its way through Huntsville on the way to the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Ross has four children, Lindsay, Colby, Garrett and Jared, who plays professionally for the Philadelphia Phantoms of the American Hockey League after playing four seasons for the Chargers.

** GET YOUR QUESTIONS IN NOW!!: Doug won't be stopping by until 1:00 EDT on Tuesday, March 20th, and his time will be limited, so feel free to submit your questions now and we'll save them for his arrival!
CSTV.com Moderator: Hello, and welcome to "Tuesday @ the Rink," presented by CSTV.com and USCHO. We have two great chats heading into the NCAA tournament, so let's get started. We're joined now by Alabama-Huntsville head coach Doug Ross, whose Chargers take on Notre Dame in the Midwest Regional on Friday afternoon.
Doug Ross: I'm glad to be in the position we're in right now, and I'm really looking forward to the tournament, and I want to thank everybody for their interest and support.
Doug Ross: I'm glad to be in the position we're in right now, and I'm really looking forward to the tournament, and I want to thank everybody for their interest and support.

Worried A-H Chargers fan: How can you say this is a match up that you want? Notre Dame is the Best Defensive team in the country in all categories. Defense wins championships? haven't you heard that?
Doug Ross: First of all, Notre Dame's got a great tradition and a great sports reputation. That's going to give us a lot of great publicity for the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Anytime you can do that, the exposure with Notre Dame is very important. That's what I like about it, we're going to get a chance at at one of the best teams in the country, and it's Notre Dame. From a hockey standpoint, I thought we might get Minnesota. We had a chance to play Minnesota at Christmas, and they have a lot of talented forwards, and they beat us 3-1 on the big ice, without those players at World Juniors. I wanted to stay away from those high-end forwards, and I'd rather try to get through tough defensive corps that Notre Dame has and their goaltender than worry about Minnesota's high-powered forwards. We're going to get chances to score goals, the question is when we get those chances, are we going to score? They have one heck of a goaltender, who was the MVP in CCHA, but we're up for that challenge. We've got to capitalize on our opportunities when we have them. I've got confidence in our forwards, and we're going to get chances. Also it's probably easier for parents and I have some friends and family in Michigan, and they all want to see this team play again, so it gives them a chance to watch the game.

Chuck Lewis (Huntsville): Coach, please talk a bit about the balance between intensity and looseness, and how you, as a coach, try to establish, in preparing for a really big game, what seems to be a contradiction...
Doug Ross: That's a pretty good question. As a coach, I've gone in there, and sometimes our guys are uptight about who they're playing, and we're going to be playing one of the biggest games we've ever played, against Notre Dame. We've got to go out there and be ready mentally and physically, but we've got to bring a lot of spirit and intensity to the game when we play. I don't want them to get too uptight. I want them to have fun at this tournament and bring that positive energy and spirit, and not be too uptight. They've got to have some composure.

Alex (Chicago): Coach, while you didn't get to play Notre Dame at the tournament in Tampa, you got a chance to see them in person. What's the first thing that jumps out at you about your first-round opponent?
Doug Ross: They're a patient team and didn't take a lot of penalties. We're going to have to be patient too, stay out of the penalty box ourselves. We know we can't take penalties. I see a lot of patience in their team. Jeff Jackson is a good coach, and he's going to match lines, and they're the home team, so they get the last change. Their goaltending good, their patience is good, and I really wanted to play them at that tournament in Tampa.

Bemidji MN: Congratulations on the CHA win, your boys fought hard and with great heart. Congratulations on your retirement, you have built a great program. You and your team deserve the NCAA bid. My question... how do you feel about people saying that the NCAA should deny the CHA an auto bid and force a play in game to belong? Do you believe other teams in Alabama may come online with hockey to support more local rivalries?
Doug Ross: I think it's important for the growth of hockey that we have to have these leagues develop and provide opportunities, and with those opportunities need NCAA bid. The CHA has been great with providing opportunities for student-athletes and coaches. To be able to set that goal for yourself of a conference championship and NCAA bid is everything. The second part of that question, I think it's going to be real difficult for any other schools to field a Division I hockey team because it's too hard to get a schedule. I don't see any new teams in the near future, but there's been some teams that have talked about it.

Ed (Detroit): Coach, do you find it surprising that out of all the teams you've had in Huntsville in the Division I era, this is the one that gets to go to the NCAA tournament?
Doug Ross: That was a big surprise. I thought we were a lot better team than our record indicated. We had a lot of real good teams that won regular season championships but couldn't win the big game. However, we've got 10 seniors on this squad, and they all showed a lot of leadership and determination and never quit. A great asset of this team is to know how to come from behind and win.

Bill (Huntsville): You've coached three straight games knowing that your next loss is your last. What kind of a feeling is that?
Doug Ross: Those guys just wouldn't let me retire. I have a lot of respect for them, I think that they have a mutual respect for me, that they won't let me retire. It's just a lot of fun knowing that those guys feel that way about you.

Jean Huntsville: What is your game plan for notre dame? What do you have to do to win?
Doug Ross: First of all, we have got to stay out of the penalty box. We cannot take any behind-the-play penalties. We're going to have to have a lot of patience and composure out there, and when we have the opportunity offensively, we've got to go hard. We've got to make the right decisions, especially in dumping pucks and making transitions back to defense quickly.

Jonathan (Fairbanks, ALASKA): Coach Ross, who is the best coach you have ever coached against?
Doug Ross: My mentor, Ron Mason. I played for Ron at Lake Superior State and at Bowling Green, and six or seven years ago, we played at Michigan State. I owe Ron Mason a lot. He's the guy that gave me my opportunity.

Ken (Edina, MN): First of all contratulations on getting to the tournament. Teams like yours create the best part of these tournaments for me, the Cinderella stories. My Gophers were victims of that last year..ouch! Do you use HC (can't say the name) as motivation?
Doug Ross: What we did talk about is the fact that George Mason got to the Final Four in basketball last year. We did use that as a little bit of motivation. We may be underdogs and the 16th team in this tournament, but the great thing about sports is that anything can happen. We saw that in 1980 in the Miracle on Ice game, we saw that last year in basketball with George Mason, and in the Holy Cross-Minnesota game.

Irish Bill: How are you going to try and shut down COndra, Thang, and Deeth? What must you do?
Doug Ross: It's going to be tough to do that, especially since they're the home team and have the final change, but we'll try to put a good defensive line against them.

Lisa (Huntsville, Alabama): What will you miss most about coaching at UAH and what are your immediate plans after retirement?
Doug Ross: I enjoy working with the student-athletes in the college environment. I've got a lot of projects around the house and a lake house to build on Smith Lake, and I hope I can work for 2-3 more years, either at the University or somewhere in the community.
CSTV.com Moderator: That is all the time we have with Coach Ross this afternoon.
Doug Ross: I'm just real proud of what this hockey team did in the CHA tournament this year. It was amazing that they could come from behind in all three games and win the championship when a lot of people didn't expect it. As we move forward, we're going to continue to be good ambassadors for UAH and the CHA in the tournament.
CSTV.com Moderator: That'll do it for the first of our "Tuesday @ the Rink" chats this afternoon. Fans should keep in mind that the Rink Rat blog will be up and running from the Midwest regional at http://slog.cstv.com/rinkrat, with coverage from all three games.
CSTV.com Moderator: We'll be back at the top of the hour with North Dakota forward Ryan Duncan.