North boys hockey coach looks to help lead program back to winning ways

By: Mark Vest | Grosse Pointe Times | Published February 20, 2018

 Grosse Pointe North senior captain Austin Albrecht skates during a game against University of Detroit Jesuit earlier this season. After a “disappointing” start, North coach Joe Drouin said there has been growth with the team.

Grosse Pointe North senior captain Austin Albrecht skates during a game against University of Detroit Jesuit earlier this season. After a “disappointing” start, North coach Joe Drouin said there has been growth with the team.

Photo by Sarah Purlee

GROSSE POINTES —  Since the early 2000s, Grosse Pointe North’s boys hockey program has won two Michigan High School Athletic Association Division II state championships and eight regional titles.

In 2012, the Norsemen finished runner-up for a state championship.

But winning has been a rarer occurrence in recent years, as the Norsemen have finished in last place in the Michigan Interscholastic Hockey League South Division in each of the past four seasons, winning just three games in division play during that span.

At press time, North was 3-17-1-1 overall and 0-10-1-1 in the MIHL South.

Though first-year coach Joe Drouin knew there’d be a share of rough patches this season, he said he’s seen improvement in his squad.

“It was a disappointing start,” Drouin said. “We had a new coaching staff, new system and there was a little bit of (unfamiliarity) from the kids. They were trying to figure us out; we were trying to figure them out. So, it took a while before they started to really trust what we were teaching. … Now we’re really building towards the playoffs.”

After getting a bye in a D3 preregional, North plays the winner of Grosse Pointe Woods University Liggett and Warren De La Salle in a preregional final at 7 p.m. March 1 at the Mount Clemens Ice Arena.

Drouin said his team is peaking at the right time.

“A lot of it has to do with the system,” he said. “The kids believe in the system, and they believe in the culture that we’re bringing.”

Drouin said that the long-term goal is to be more competitive in the MIHL. A decision that has been made within the program could help the Norsemen do just that.

“We developed, basically, a leadership council within the team, and we meet once a week,” Drouin said. “We guided them, but we let them develop 10 core values that we have. … They took a lot of ownership, and really, from that point on, once they put the team in their hands, they took off with it. You can see a change in the way the team’s been playing since Christmas break.”

Drouin is aware of the program’s past success, and he would like to help lead the Norsemen to more of it.

“We’re changing the culture,” he said. “I tell (them), we may not be winning, but you’re starting to do things the Norsemen way, and this is something we’ll look back on.”