Predators Make Moves – by C. Scott Holland
The Don Dickson era as head coach of the Lambton Shores Predators officially came to a close on Wednesday, November 11 as it was announced that Dickson had resigned from the position. A firm believer in the development of the Preds’ young players he is staying on with the Predators as their Director of Player personnel.
It was a busy day for the eighth place team as they hired Randy Pearce as their new bench boss.
A Kitchener native, Pearce played for three seasons for the OHL Rangers in his hometown and was a 4th round pick in 1972 by the Washington Captitals. He played pro for six seasons with stops in the IHL, ECHL and in the AHL with Baltimore and Portland.
A three-year Hampton Roads Admiral who won one of the Admirals’ three ECHL championships, Pearce was just the 15th former player and 17th member overall inducted into the Admirals Hall of Fame. Pearce manned the left wing for Hampton Roads during parts of three seasons in 1991-92, 1992-93, and 1996-97.
Fresh out of junior hockey, he signed with Hampton Roads at the age of 21, and proceeded to score an incredible 32 goals and 78 points in 55 games as a rookie to lead the team in goals, assists and points. The then led the Admirals into the 1991-92 Riley Cup Playoffs where he compiled five goals and nine assists for 14 points over the Admirals’ 11 postseason matches en route to their second-straight Riley Cup title.
Dickson took over the Preds’ reins during the 2013/14 season and compiled a record of 95 games coached, 22 wins, 62 losses, seven overtime losses and 3 shootout defeats. His teams did not fare well defensively as they allowed 511 goals in that spell while scoring 293 times. The franchise finished 9th and out of the playoffs in his first season and then managed to obtain the last playoff spot in 2014/15 but were swept aside in four games by the Leamington Flyers.
With a squad equally split between veterans and rookies many people felt that the Preds would finally become a respectable contender this season. However, there have been few indications of improvement as they remain mired in 8th place with a record of 5 wins (only one of which is at home), 13 losses and 2 overtime losses. While they have scored a decent number of goals – 63 – their goals against is the highest in the conference with 105 allowed and their penalty minutes is second highest at 539.
It is hoped that Pearce can get the team winning. They are only two points behind the struggling Strathroy Rockets, who are winless in their last eleven games and sit in seventh place.
Pearce’s son Carson is a rookie defenseman with the Predators.
In another move that may help cut the goals against down, the Predators’ traded rookie goaltender Tyler Caruana (0-5, 5.15 gaa, 89.2 save percentage) to Brantford and signed Keegan Paulette who is just shy of his 18th birthday (December 12). He is 6’1″ and 194 lbs. and played with the Espanola Rivermen (CIHL) last season. Paulette has a sparkling 1.91 gaa in 15 games played and an outstanding 94.3 save percentage.
The Predators are in LaSalle tonight (November 11) and then face Leamington at home on Saturday, November 14. Paulette will likely make his GOJHL debut in one of those two contests.
(photo credit – Terry Bridges, The Sarnia Observer)
C. Scott Holland is an accomplished author, a former Western Jr. B Hockey League statistician and is recognized as the West Conference’s and GOJHL’s historian. A lifelong resident of Leamington Scott was a journalist for the now defunct Leamington Post for 26 years and currently writes for the Southpoint Sun. Among the books he has authored are: 75 Years: A History of the Leamington and Erie Shores Golf Course; A Century In The Making – History of Heinz Canada 1909-2009; Leamington Flyers 1992/93-2011/12 Platinum Anniversary Special Program; the Western Jr. B Record Book 2003/04 and 2005/05 editions; as well as updates of both the West Conference and GOJHL Record Books. He was been a member of he Leamington Jr. Flyers hockey club for the last 27 years and served many years as a board member, statistician, press box announcer, and scorekeeper among other duties. He has been named the West Conference Volunteer of Year and a Windsor-Essex Sportsperson of Year award. He resides in Leamington with his wife Susan.
He can be reached at: email@example.com.