Heads-up.  Aurora is turning three years old, has a new coach and an undefeated record through six games.  Cue Patti LaBelle!

Somehow the wires un-crossed, the tables were turned
Never knew I had such a lesson to learn
I'm feelin' the good from my head to my shoes
Know where I'm goin' and I know what to do
I've tidied up my point of view

Not that the Spartans attitude over the past two seasons was bad, but year three brings a shift in mentality.  It started in July when Jackie Kooistra was hired as head coach, taking over for Grant Kimball who moved on to Division I Yale.  The top thing on her to-do list: get to know the current players and their current culture.  She could do that even before stepping on the ice with them last month.

"We finally have upper classmen on the team," said Kooistra.  "They weren't used to winning.  It says on the wall of the locker room:  Be the Culture.  What does that mean?  We talked about it.  They had no idea.  I'm sure they were starting to develop something, but nobody knew a definite idea of what it meant.  We've been defining a new culture."

After two young seasons that focused on winning the little battles, this season is 100 percent about winning.  Talk with Kooistra's players for two minutes and it's very clear that is the theme for this season.

"We were looking for the little victories," said junior Lexie Martinez, about the past two seasons.  "We beat them in shots, or we won more face-offs, even though we're losing.  Jackie is, 'we need to win.'  Shots are cool, but are we winning?  Yes or no?  I think it pushes us to have a bigger desire to win."

So far, mission accomplished.  The Spartans are 6-0; Koositra's coaching record is unblemished.  Aurora hasn't played any ranked opponents or teams that have finished near the top of their conference yet, but this start is still just what they were looking for.

Koositra inherits a roster and two years of building blocks from Kimball, who she has known since she was 12.  Koositra played AAA hockey for Kimball at Team Illinois and has kept in touch with him throughout the years - including leading up to this season.

"I couldn't imagine doing what he did, with all the freshmen!" said Kooistra about the job Kimball did.  "Having 16 freshmen at one time and trying to build a culture, that would have been a challenge ...  Kudos to Grant and him starting that process.  Now I get them when they are older and starting to win! (laughs).  My job's a little bit easier."

Kooistra is impressed with the fundamentals her current roster brings to the table - characteristics she can build around.  

"These girls already have discipline," said Kooistra.  "They come to me with ideas.  'This is how we've done things, this is how we like to do this or that.'  They are very efficient in what they do.  Really good communicators."

Off of those foundational traits, the first-year coach has started adding blocks.  Her passion is power skating.  She says her opening couple weeks of practice, with all the teams she has coached, are heavy on skating.  She hardly needs a bag of pucks. 

"Lots of skating," said goalie Chiara Pfosi, of what she recalls from the first weeks of practice.  "She wants us to be the most conditioned team in the league, and that has been huge for us."

But it's more than conditioning for Kooistra.  Endurance, yes, but also working on stride, form, efficiency.  Becoming better skaters.  Kooistra is kind of a power skating savant.  Obsessed, for sure.

"That's been my jam forever," said Kooistra.  "Power skating and skills.  I can close my eyes and know who's skating past me, by the way it sounds when they skate."

Eyes closed?  Every player?

"Probably every player.  Two players are in the nurnsing program and are not here every practice, so maybe they would be a little harder to tell.  But the rest, yes."

Knowing her players as skaters is number one for Kooistra.  That's how she puts lines together, figures out who can play in what situations, who's fast and who can get faster.  While she learned a lot about her players off the ice from July through September, now - five weeks into the season - she knows them as hockey players.

"On the ice, 100 percent, I know them as players now.  It's a big part of the job to know who's really strong in one area and who struggles in other areas.  Finding that niche of who plays well together."

Wait, eyes closed?  Really?  By the time between skates cutting the ice, tall players vs short players?  Please explain.

"I'm thinking bad habits.  Stomps on the ice.  You can hear the way people skate.  I've always been fascinated with it and it's always been something I can do.  With every team I've coached, we start with skating.  The first week, we barely touch pucks.  Skating, conditioning, skating, conditioning.  I just really get to know them as skaters."

When asking players what's different this year, their first response is their new coach.  They've notied a difference in meetings, practice, culture and attitude.

"With Jackie, practice is just harder, in general," said Pfosi, a junior.  "We've had time together, talked about what our culture is.  She has, for sure, helped a lot with that."

For Martinez, the coaching change has added something new to her hockey toolbox: goal-scoring.  Martinez earned Player of the Week honors two weeks ago after scoring four goals in a series sweep at St. Olaf - including her first hat trick since her post-grad year of high school.

"Jackie pushes me to focus on scoring and playing to win," said Martinez.  "It has helped a lot ... I was never a big goal scorer (in high school).  I was more of an assist player.  But I started to get more confidence on the scoring side last year.  I think that has led to more goals this year.  I've just really tried to focus on my confidence and I think that has really helped out."

Pfosi is off to a nice start under under Kooistra, too.  Six wins, a 1.16 GAA and .949 save percentage.

One thing about Pfosi that Kooistra loves is her puck-handling.  The two have talked a lot about the ways that puck-handling can affect the game and the team's systems.

"One of my best strengths, for sure," said Pfosi.  "I've always loved playing the puck and I think it's huge for a goalie to be involved.  It helps us defensively, too.  I just love doing it."

Pfosi earned Defensive Player of the Week honors after the St. Olaf sweep, stopping 27 shots in a 4-1 win and 24 in a 2-1 win.  The Ipsach, Switzerland-native doesn't wax much on all those saves, preferring to look forward.

Any saves that stood out from that weekend?

"Not really," said the humble Pfosi - who owns the NCHA's all-time single-game save total (71 at Adrian last season).  "I like them all."

Kooistra has planted the seeds for the culture to evolve, but the players have to cultivate and grow.  And that's happening, partly because the number of talented players has increased.

"With the team getting bigger, we have healthy scratches now," said Pfosi.  "It's made everyone more competitive, everyone has to prove themselves every weekend.  That has made us better."

Pfosi remembers back to year one, when everyone dressed and there were open seats on the bench.  Pretty much everyone got to play.  Things are different now.

The number of players contributing on the score sheet has increased, especially this year.  Nicole McKernan has nine points in six games, good for 3rd in the NCHA.  Two players have posted hat tricks: Martinez and Marisa Trevino.  Five players are in the top-ten in NCHA scoring.

Important, too, is Aurora has some dramatic, character-building wins among the six on the year.  A 2-1 overtime win at Nichols (Kooistra's first win), a 2-1 win at St. Olaf and a 6-3 win over Finlandia.  Both the Olaf win and the Finlandia win featured game-winning goals scored in the third period.

Taylor Sims has starred three times in the still-young season with game-winning goals in the third period or overtime.   

The 6-0, new attitude Spartans will get their toughest test of the season this weekend when they host Lake Forest.  The Foresters are coming off a sweep over last year's NCHA Runner-Up, St. Scholastica, as teams start to figure out where they stand among the NCHA's stiff competition.  This weekend will be a measuring stick for both teams.

Puck drop is slated for 3:00 PM central time on Friday and Saturday.