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Games of the Week, Sept. 9-11

Welcome GOJHL fans.  This is the first installment of the Games of the Week review for the Western Conference for Sept. 9-11.  There were 4 games this week.

 

The first game this week, and first game of the 2014-2015 GOJHL season, was the Sarnia Legionnaires hosting the Western Conference Champion Leamington Flyers on Tuesday, September 9.

The Legionnaires pulled out a come from behind win to defeat the Flyers 6-4.

Story by Jon Maillet of the Lambton Sheild.

http://www.lambtonshield.com/sarnia-legionnaires-ground-the-leamington-flyers-in-6-4-win/

Sarnia Legionnaires ground the Leamington Flyers in 6-4 win

By Jon Maillet on September 10, 2014
Kyler Keating shone in his Sarnia Legionnaires debut with a goal and three assists in a 6-4 win over the GOJHL’s defending Western Conference Champion Leamington Flyers.

The Legionnaires saw their first test of the season after what looked like a relatively easy preseason which saw them only lose once.

Sarnia started the game with a quick goal by Nathan Mater, who lit the lamp just 20 seconds into the game to give the Legionnaires the quick 1-0 lead. Riley Roberts and Tyler Prong assisted the Legionnaires first goal of the 2014/2015 campaign.

Despite setting the tone with the early goal, the Flyers controlled the first period, out shooting Sarnia 15-5, and answering back with 3 goals of their own. Cale Phibbs tied it for Leamington 5:52 into the first, after banging home a rebound of an Alex Derksen shot from the point, Mitchell Amante the other assist on the play.

The Flyers took the lead on a power play goal by Thomas Virban, another point shot that beat Hunter Johnson, Nathan Opblinger the lone assist to make it 2-1. Flyers added one more before the end of the first, Chris Scott knocks home a rebound to give Leamington a 3-1 lead.

“We scored early and the was not necessarily a good thing,” said Coach Dan Rose. “I think the boys let up a little bit and the Flyers have 12 or 13 guys from last year’s championship team so they know how to play already and they came at us hard in that first period and we got on our heels a bit. After the boys settled down we battled back in the second.”

Battle back they did. After being outshot and out scored in the first period, the Legionnaires came out with some jump, former Lambton Shores Predator defence men Kyler Keating picking up his first point as a member of the Legionnaires after assisting Riley Babkirk’s first goal of the season.

That power play goal cut the Flyers lead to 3-2, Bobby King had an assist as well. Late in the second period, Cameron Clarke spotted Jay Clarke at the side of the net, with limited space J. Clarke was able to find some room and tie the game at 3-3. Nathan Mater picked up his second point of the game with an assist on that goal, Legionnaires led the shots in the second 10-6.

With the game tied, Leamington came out with a sense of urgency early on. Hunter Johnson was forced to make some big saves in the first few minutes to keep the game tied. It wasn’t until the midway point the tie was broken, the Legionnaires continued their surge this time captain Nathan Mater scored his second of the game, J. Clarke and Keating picking up the assists.

One could almost call that third period the Kyler Keating show, as minutes later Keating let a wrister go from the point, that puck beat Trevor Wheaton over the shoulder and gave the Legionnaires a 5-3 lead, a power play goal assisted by Tyler Longo and Brandon Layman and was the eventual game winner.

The Flyers made a game of it by scoring late in the third as Alex Friesen launched a laser beam of a shot that beat Johnson just under the bar. But that is as close as Leamington would get. Riley Babkirk added the empty netter, his second goal of the game, Keating with an assist to finish off a four point night in his Sarnia debut.

Sarnia went 2 for 10 on the powerplay and went 3 for 4 on the penalty kill.

“We have to work on our powerplay, but the reality is that they (Leamington) have the best PK in the league and have for three years so they really tested us tonight. We just threw those units together before the game as well, so the kids hadn’t played together yet,” Rose said after the game about his powerplay. Overall Rose was happy with the win. “Our compete level is where I like to see it, it was a good first game in our barn.”

Hunter Johnson put in another solid night of work, turning away 27 of 31 shots in his first win of the season.

This was a great test for this Legionnaires team and there is a lot of potential in this offensive core. Of course the addition of Kyler Keating only bolsters an already strong back end, and as was seen on Tuesday, has added some more offence as well. If I had to guess, I would say this Legionnaires team is capable of a top three finish and could potentially have 30-35 wins this season.

 

Game 2 this week was Wed. night when the LaSalle Vipers hosted the London Nationals.  The Vipers defeated the Nats 7-4.  Game summary from www.lasallevipers.com

Vipers top Nationals in home opener

The LaSalle Vipers cruised to a 7-4 victory over the London Nationals in front of 699 fans who braved heavy rains and flood warnings to attend the annual tailgate party and home opener at the Vollmer Centre Wednesday night.

Ken Antaya, the mayor of LaSalle, performed the official puck drop to signify the beginning of the season in a pre-game ceremony that included deputy mayor Mark Carrick and town councillors Sue Desjarlais, Marc Bondy and Crystal Meloche.

Super star singer Crystal Gage entertained the crowd prior to the game with her interactive routine, and performed the national anthem as well.

Through the generous donations of Vipers fans at the tailgate party, approximately $215.00 was raised for The PUCK Stops Here, the Vipers community outreach program.

Vipers forward Brendan Harrogate, 16, notched the season’s first goal when he scored at 5:11 of the first period. Brett Primeau got a piece of a Brett Langlois slap shot, giving LaSalle a two-goal lead just minutes later. Daniel Beaudoin launched a rocket past Nationals goaltender Justin Tugwell with one minute left in the opening period, allowing the Vipers to take a 3-0 lead into the intermission.

In the second period, London mounted a comeback, with goals by Austin Kemp, Tanner Lafrance and Drew Worrard. Connor Rosaasen and Harrogate replied for the Vipers, who entered the third period ahead 5-3.

LaSalle’s Korey Morgan cashed on a rebound for a power play goal to take a three-goal lead, but London’s Ethan Cocurullo brought the Nationals back within two.

Manny Silverio, who also had three assists, hit an empty net to restore the three-goal advantage and cement the victory.

Harrogate, playing in his first junior hockey game, led the way with two goals. Nathan Savage and Brett Langlois had two assists, while Beaudoin and Primeau had multi-point nights.

Paolo Battisti stopped 25 of 29 shots to record the victory while Tugwell allowed seven on 34 attempts.

The Vipers next game comes Friday night in St. Marys. Our next home action is Wednesday, Sept. 17 against the Strathroy Rockets.

We are asking fans to bring in and donate school supplies that night, all of which will go to local schools and students.

 

Game 3 this week was Leamington Flyers home opener against the St. Thomas Stars.  Prior to the game, Leamington unveiled their 2013-2014 Western Ontario Conference Champions banner, high above the ice.  The Flyers skated to a 3-1 win over the Stars.

Game summary courtesy of C. Scott Holland.

Flyers Raise Banner, Edge Stars In Close Contest

by C. Scott Holland
Having lost many of their top scorers and one goaltender to overage, the 2014/15 Leamington Flyers are adjusting, as nearly half the team consists of rookies. But one thing was evident after their home opening ceremonies, in which they honored last year’s championship team; they will be highly competitive and rely heavily upon defense and speed.

With the championship banner raised to the rafters by many of last season’s overagers and management, and a short tribute paid to two of the club’s volunteer members who passed away this past summer, the Flyers began the celebration of their 60th season of junior hockey.

The St. Thomas Stars likewise have quite a few rookies in their lineup and after a slight scare when their bus dropped the players off then left the arena with their jerseys, Ron Horvat and crew managed to come prepared.

During the opening minutes of the contest both teams were tentative in their chances but as the players got over their nervousness, a good game followed.

Many eyes were on one of last year’s Flyers playoff stars, Eric Henderson, and it was Henderson who initiated the play on the game’s first tally. Henderson’s feed to vet Kyle Quick who in turn slipped a pass to newcomer Alex Derksen. Derksen ripped the goal at 8:50 to spot the Flyers a 1-0 lead.

The Flyers began to press Stars’ netminder Nikolas Dampier and at 11:20, Cale Phibbs and captain Mitchell Amante sent Thomas Virban down the right lane and Virban blasted a shot that rung loudly off a post and into the net to put the Flyers up 2-0.

The Stars received a powerplay less than one minute after Virban’s marker and, at 13:14 in the dying seconds of that chance, Wade Russell, who was behind the Flyers’ net and trying to pass out front, banked a Gretzky-like shot off Leamington starter Trevor Wheaton’s pads and the Stars were on the board.

The game’s final goal came at 2:33 of the second when Matthew Opblinger, the rookie younger brother of Nathan Opblinger, hooked a pass to Alex Friesen and Kyle Perkowski. The two Flyers went on a two-on-one breakaway and it was Perkowski who shovelled the puck past Dampier.

Throughout the remainder of the contest, both sides had plenty of opportunities to add goals via powerplays, but the two netminders made some great saves to keep the contest close. However, the Stars seemed to find Leamington’s big 200′ by 100′ ice surface a bit much and seldom tested Trevor Wheaton, while the Flyers did nothing but fire away at Dampier, but found themselves not hitting the target too often.

In a last ditch effort the Stars lifted Dampier for an extra-attacker in the final minute, but it was to no avail.

Overall, both teams appear to be works in progress. The Flyers did display immense speed including one on a penalty kill where Alex Derksen grabbed the puck, then wove through players doing a half circle circuit of the Heinz arena while killing about 20 seconds of time and then feeding a teammate and heading to the bench. That one play alone was worth the admission.

The Flyers outshot the Stars 29-15 with a superb PK as they held the Stars to one powerplay goal on eight chances, while the Stars had kept Leamington scoreless on four tries.

Leamington heads to Chatham on Sunday night for a big test there, and then return home next Thursday to face the LaSalle Vipers.

 

Game 4 was Sarnia Legionnaires hosting Strathroy Rockets.  It was a fast paced game and the Legionnaires pulled out a 5-3 win over the Rockets.  It was a great game, as I expected it to be, with some questionable calls from the referees, but in my opinion, both goalies played well.  There were times when Hunter Johnson was a brick wall, shutting down everything that the Rockets were shooting at him.

Game summary from Sarnia Observer.

http://www.theobserver.ca/2014/09/11/sarnia-legionnaires-win-second-straight

The Sarnia Legionnaires used a potent power-play to shoot down the Strathroy Rockets 5-3 in Western Jr. ‘B’ hockey action Thursday.

With the win the Legion crew improved its won-lost record to 2-0.

Three of Sarnia’s five goals came with a man advantage.

“That was a pretty good game,” Legionnaires head coach Dan Rose said afterward. “We were more efficient (than in Sarnia’s 1st game). We weren’t as scrambly. We have four good lines right now. It’s nice to see the boys respond to the things we (the coaching staff) talked about after the last game. These guys are determined to win this year. They’re a disciplined group.”

Jay Clarke led the offense, scoring twice.

“I think it’s going to be a good season, we’re off to a good start,” Clarke said. As for his two goals, he credited his linemates with making them possible. “I didn’t do a lot of work, I was just lucky and I was in the right spot.”

Other Sarnia markers were scored by Cody Trowell, Ryan Trottier and Jordan Fogarty.

Brett Dalton, Mark MacAuley and Stuart King replied for the Rockets.

Goalie Hunter Johnson got the win in net, while Tynan Lauziere was tagged with the loss.

Attendance was just under 1,100.

The Legionnaires return to action next Thursday when they host the London Nationals. Game time at the Brock Street Barn is set for 7:10 p.m.

 

Coming up this weekend:

Friday

St. Marys Lincolns hosting LaSalle Vipers – 7:30 Pyramid Rec Centre

St. Thomas Stars hosting Chatham Maroons – 7:30 Timken Centre

Saturday

Lambton Shores Predators hosting Strathroy Rockets – 7:30 Shores Rec Centre

Sunday

Chatham Maroons hosting Leamington Flyers – 7:00 Chatham Memorial

Lambton Shores Predators hosting London Nationals – 7:30 Shores Rec Centre

In my opinion, I think the game to watch is Chatham vs. Leamington on Sun night.  Another good one might be St. Thomas vs. Chatham tonight, which I haven’t decided, but that might be the game I’ll be at this weekend.

 

See you Monday hockey fans!

Stratford Cullitons

Stratford Cullitons Preview

Cullitons ready to take care of business

By Steve Rice, Stratford Beacon Herald

The Stratford Cullitons have 14 returning veterans coming off the team’s third straight trip to the Cherrey Cup final.

Three of those 14 have played in back-to-back finals and another three have been in three consecutive championship series.

But the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference doesn’t hand out ribbons for second place so there’s little to show for all the hard work — other than some great memories, entertaining hockey for the fans and personal successes.

The story needs to have a different ending this season.

“No matter what, the goal is to win the Conference and win the Sutherland Cup,” said Cullitons’ captain Trevor Sauder, one of seven players entering their final season of junior hockey.

“I’ve been here three years and been to the final three times and haven’t won, and it’s pretty tough. We definitely want to win the Cherrey Cup this year.”

Sauder’s assistants — Jeff McArdle, Jake Pleon and Mitch Vandergunst — are all in their final season, as are Pat McKelvie, Shane O’Brien and goaltender Nick Caldwell.

“There should be a lot of leadership on the team, not just the captains, and hopefully that can help take us to the Cherrey Cup,” said Vandergunst. “I’ve been to the final twice and lost both times and I can’t imagine losing again. Really, this year we’ve got to put it all out there and try to win it.”

Coach and first-year director of hockey operations Phil Westman has two Sutherland Cup championships as an assistant coach, and has taken the team to four finals in the past five seasons as a head coach, while earning Midwestern coach of the year honours twice during that period.

“Deep down we all know we’ve got unfinished business,” Westman said. “The nucleus of this team is gone next year and nobody wants to go out as second.

“Unfortunately everybody else in the league feels the same way. Right now our goal is to be the hardest-working team in the league and see where it takes us.”

Westman calls the Cullitons “a blend of speed, size and intensity — a little bit of everything, which I think is what makes us a tough opponent every night.

“We’ve got some heavyweights and some pretty aggressive players. But we have to play hard, disciplined hockey and I think we have the veteran players to do it. Last year our emotions got carried away a little bit and we had to bring it back in. I think we’ve matured a lot.”

Injuries cursed the team last year and returnees O’Brien and Zach Van Louwe will be among those looking for more productive campaigns. But Westman says “we need everybody to have good seasons.”

“We’re bringing back a number of 20-year-old players and they need to carry the mail a little bit,” he said. “I’m not putting any pressure on them but they’ve got to take their role and go out and be hockey players for us.”

One who will obviously be counted on is Caldwell, whose 2.39 goals-against average in the regular season last year was the third-best in club history. He was the playoff MVP in 2013 and could easily have won the award last year with a 2.37 GAA in 15 playoff games.

“Any successful hockey team at any level is as good as its goaltending,” Westman said. “He’s been pretty steady for us the last couple of years and is someone our entire organization feels confident with in net.

“And he’s a great asset in the dressing room. He comes with a fantastic attitude. He’s looking to have a good year to get on to a college or university team and we’re looking to give him that opportunity.”

The biggest change over last season will be the absence of offensive-minded defencemen Ryker Killins (USHL) and captain Jordan Currie (age), who combined for 81 points, 51 of those on the powerplay.

“They’re highly skilled players that at our level are very tough to replace,” said Westman. “We need to get the defencemen in the rush and have them active. (But) you’ve got to coach to what you’ve got and if you think you’re going to make a player something he’s not, you’re making a mistake.

“We’re very happy with the players we’ve got and respect their talents greatly.”

While the finish to the season is the key, the Cullitons are hoping that a shortened training camp will help them get off to a good start.

“With the team already being picked coming into camp I feel we have a big advantage and it’s definitely going to help out the new guys,” said Pleon. “The chemistry is a little bit better than at this time last year. A couple of the new guys have practiced with us long enough that they know our systems.

“As long as we can stay healthy I think we’re going to be a phenomenal team. team. But it’s a long season ahead. You don’t know what other teams are going to bring to the table along the way and we just have to keep sticking to the way we play, especially in our own rink.”

There are bound to be bumps in the road throughout the season. Things like injuries and slumps can cripple a team, or as the Cullitons have proven the past two seasons, can forge them into a stronger unit for the playoffs.

“We want to be a team that can handle adversity,” said McArdle. “I think it’s been good in the past few years that we’ve taken some losses. It pays in the long run. You get into the playoffs you’re going to take some losses and it’s all about bouncing back quickly.

“We’ve got some good, young talent coming in and with the core of guys we’ve got coming back I think it’s going to be a lot of fun. Definitely the guys that have been there before all want to get back (to the final) — that’s our goal right from the beginning. And I think the young guys will realize pretty quickly we’re in it to win it.”

Up front the Cullitons have added Stratford’s Jared Nash, a skilled centre, and wingers Tyler Randerson and Hayden Broomhead, who will be expected to contribute offensively.

Defencemen Austin Huizenga is a physical, stay-at-home defenceman and Matthieu Bourbeau has been compared to a young Jordan Currie.

Nick Redman will provide backup to Caldwell in preparation for taking on the job next season.

“I think we’ve got a great group of guys here,” Sauder said. “Phil and Randy (GM Petrie) and even Jason (Lott) from last year did a great job recruiting guys. The new guys that have been brought in are great players — as good as any of us vets.”

The captains offered different suggestions as to why the Cullitons may have fallen short in a six-game final against Waterloo last year. Bad bounces. Perhaps some overconfidence crept in.

But they agree on one thing: it can’t happen again.

“It’s a little heartbreaking being there two years in a row and coming up empty,” said Pleon. “We were there and it just slipped from our hands. Next time we get a chance like that we’ve got to hold on tight and not let go.”

THE NEW FACES

The Cullitons have added six new faces for 2014-15, but there are no rookies on this team.

With only 20 players signed and at least one or two veterans out of the lineup for the opening weekend, the first-year players will not only get a chance to play, they’ll be expected to contribute right away.

“We’ve only got 20 players and I think everybody knows that we try to use our bench as much as possible,” said coach Phil Westman. “And there’s growing pains with that. Young guys are going to make mistakes and we have to be patient with them.

“But they’ll be cast into the fire and they’ll develop as the year goes on. It’s good for their hockey.”

Centre Jared Nash is the lone Stratford player among the group. The other five are imports, although defenceman Matthieu Bourbeau (Baden) and forward Tyler Randerson (New Hamburg) live just down the road, and forward Hayden Broomhead (Ilderton) less than 50 kilometres away.

Goalie Nick Redman is from Singhampton, and defenceman Austin Huizenga from Grand Rapids, Mich.

Here’s a look at the six newcomers, with a few comments from Westman:

AUSTIN HUIZENGA. The 19-year-old comes to the Cullitons after two seasons in the Northern States Hockey League’s Syracuse Stampede.

“He seems to be a steady Eddy defenceman that’s going to compete hard and he’s rugged in the corners,” Westman said. “I think he’s can take care of our own end, and he has a pretty good knack of slipping in on the powerplay.

MATTHIEU BOURBEAU. The Waterloo-born Bourbeau played minor hockey in Kelowna, B.C. before his family moved back to Baden. He played for the Waterloo Wolves midgets last season. “He moves the puck pretty well, similar to a Jordan Currie,” said Westman. “He’s a heads-up hockey player that distributes the puck, makes a good first pass. He likes to jump in on the offence and we encourage that.”

JARED NASH. A Guelph Storm draft pick, Nash played four playoff games with the Cullitons as a 15-year-old, scoring once. “He’s got great skill,” said Westman. “He’s a very good hockey player and he’s only going to be with us one year. We’re going to give him every opportunity to have a good year and advance his hockey. He can score and he’s gritty — a little like a Trevor Sauder with the feistiness.”

HAYDEN BROOMHEAD. The 17-year-old winger had 40 points with Elgin-Middlesex minor midgets two years ago and 39 with London Jr. Knights midgets last year, where he added 12 goals and 22 points in 16 playoff games.

“We’ve got the muckers and grinders and I needed somebody who can fire the puck and he can do that,” Westman said. “At every level he’s played, he’s put the puck in the net. I’m not putting too much pressure on him. I’m sure there are elements of his game, like the backchecking, that he’ll need to work on. He’ll be a good player who will come along and I think will be exciting for the fans to see.”

TYLER RANDERSON. The son of Stratford native Dave Randerson, who led the Cullitons in scoring in 1980-81, Tyler played Jr. C for his father in New Hamburg last season where he collected nearly a point a game in the regular season and playoffs. “I look at Tyler as similar to Drew Gross — an up and down winger who seems to go to the right spots in front of the net,” said Westman. “I know he’ll have a good year with us and then look forward to him continuing to grow with us over the next couple of years.”

NICK REDMAN: The 17-year-old had six shutouts and a 2.10 goals-against with Grey-Bruce midgets and was solid in a couple of exhibition games for the Cullitons, where he’ll serve as backup to 20-year-old Nick Caldwell. “He’s going to get some starts and (goalie coach) Mark Nelson is going to work with him so he can step into a bigger role next year when Nick Caldwell graduates,” Westman said.

To view the E-edition of this 4-page supplement, which includes a look at the other eight teams in the Midwestern Conference, click here http://virtual.stratfordbeaconherald.com/doc/Beacon-Herald/2014meetthecullitons/2014091001/#0

Falcons

St. Catharines Falcons Preview

Sutherland Cup or bust

By Bill Potrecz, The Standard

A total of 13 new players will suit up for the Falcons this season, but that won’t change head coach and general manager Frank Girhiny’s goal of contending for another Ontario junior B championship.

“The only reason we do this is to win a Sutherland Cup,” Girhiny said. “We worked hard to recruit the players we have. I think we brought in the right young players and have a nice mix.”

The Falcons, who came within six minutes of going to overtime in Game 7 of last year’s Sutherland Cup final versus the Caledonia Corvairs, will feature a new cast of characters this time around. St. Catharines graduated several key pieces from that team including forwards Kyle Woodhouse, Mark Rodgers, Yanni Rallis and Aaron Taylor, defencemen Mitch Bursey, Brad Col and Dillan Walker, and goalie Knick Dawe.

That’s a huge turnover which resulted in a lot of hard work for Girhiny recruiting in the summer.

“I think we have 13 new players which we never had in previous years,” said Girhiny, who will be assisted this season by brother Rick Girhiny and former Thorold coach Dave Brennan. “We have to re-program the players where in previous years we didn’t have to do that which is why we got out of the chute real hard.”

With so many new faces — including more young players than in previous years — Girhiny is going to be preaching patience in the early portion of the season.

“We have two 1998s and four 1997s and that’s something we haven’t had in the last couple of years,” he said. “We’ve heard that the Falcons don’t take young guys. If young guys are available and good enough, obviously we’d take them and we have this year.

“The challenge for us is that it’s going to be a lot more teaching than just coaching. We’ve seen the boys starting to learn which is exciting and we expect by Christmas they will be even better as we go on. That’s something that is a little bit different than we’ve had the last few years.”

Back from last year’s team are forwards Ryan Doucette (20-30-50), Tyler Jackson (16-18-34), Cam Blakely (6-10-16), Tyler Hildebrandt (3-4-7), defencemen Broderick Kelly, Brandon Cercone, Brett Brooker, Jacob Parisotto, Zach Bishop, and goaltender Jon D’Ilario.

Girhiny has augmented the lineup with an impressive group of newcomers.

Up front, former OHL forward Devon Rymarchuk, Stoney Creek native Nicholas Dozzi and Tyler Morrison, a highly skilled forward from Mississauga who was the third leading scorer in Maritime Junior Hockey League last year, should help off-set the loss of so many experienced forwards. Brady Cranwell, a Grimsby native who fared well at the Oshawa camp and has performed well in pre-season, and speedy Paola DeSousa, who is expected to be a energy type player, have also been added.

On defence, the Falcons are excited with the acquisition of former Erie Otter Justin Felker as well as Lancaster native Manny Manns.

Overall, St. Catharines should have one of the deepest, most talented bluelines in the league.

“We’re very happy. One thing for sure, we have three dynamic defenceman in Kelly, Cercone and Manns,” Girhiny said. “You should see our D jumping up a lot, either as a fourth forward, or taking the puck up. Traditionally, we really haven’t had that a whole lot.”

D’Ilario, who also performed well in a couple of brief stints with the Niagara IceDogs last season, will team with 16-year-old Zach Moore, a St. Catharines native who was a sixth round selection of the Kingston Frontenacs and show well at their camp.

“We have no worries in net,” Girhiny said.

Girhiny can’t wait to get started and will quickly see how this season’s team stacks up against the best when they play host to Caledonia in the Golden Horseshoe season opener Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Jack Gatecliff Arena.

“All indications from what we’ve seen in pre-season are that we’re going to be a fast team. Speed is something we also had on last year’s team and it’s key,” Girhiny said. “Our makeup is to play all four lines. Our young guys are on our fourth line and are going to get a whole lot better. We’ll let them grow into it.

“We’ll be tested Friday. They will be the team to look at to measure all teams by. Everything goes through Caledonia.”

bill.potrecz@sunmedia.ca

twitter@BillPStandard

2014/15 St. Catharines Falcons

Goaltenders

1. Zach Moore

47. Jon D’Ilario

Defence

5. Justin Felker

8. Jacob Parisotto

10. Broderick Kelly (C)

15. Zach Bishop

26. Brandon Cercone

44. Brett Brooker

77. Manny Manns

Forwards

7. Brady Cranwell

9. Tyler Morrison

14. Tyler Jackson (A)

18. Owen Peacock

19. Ryan Doucette (A)

43. Matt Jambrosich

72. Cam Blakely

74. Nicholas Dozzi

79. Devon Rymarchuk (A)

88. Paolo DeSousa

91. Tyler Hildebrandt

92. Jesse Anderson

96. Nick Prestia

Scott

Profile – Leamington Flyers Scott Holland

Name: C. Scott Holland

 

1. What team do you volunteer for?

Leamington Flyers

 

2. What is your position with the team?

I’ve had many different positions with the team, including backup announcer, Pointstreak operator, play music, time clock operator, reporter, occasional radio announcer and I’m the Leamington press box facilitator.  I’m also the Western League historian.

 

3. Why do you volunteer for them?

For the many people I’ve met over the years, including former players, friends and opposing spectators, and for the game itself.

 

4. How long have you been volunteering with them?

This is my 25th year of Jr. hockey and 23rd year of Jr. B.

 

5. How did you get started?

I began as a timekeeper, game sheet keeper and played music.

 

6. Have you worked with any other teams?

No, but I was the league’s (Western Jr. B) head statistician for two seasons (2002/03; 2003/04)

 

7. What do you find most rewarding about working with the team?

The quality of the game at this level where one can watch players develop. Have watched many of our future NHLers play at this level. Interesting to watch “history” as it is made whether it is a new record, new player, new team or some unusual happening.

 

8. What do you like to do outside of the rink?

In my down time, I spend many hours writing and doing historical researching including work on Western Division and GOJHL records and past history.  I also work with the Leamington & Mersea Historical Society.  In the spring, summer and fall, bicycling and whenever possible, being with family.

David Honsberger

Profile – Strathroy Rockets David Honsberger

Name:  David Honsberger

Children:  Jeremiah, Jannet

Work:  Entertainment Tonight

 

1. What team do you volunteer for?

Strathroy Rockets

 

2. What is your position with the team?

Videographer, stats, 105.7 myFM colour commentator, past president

 

3. Why do you volunteer for them?

As a life-long lover of the game of hockey, I began volunteering in the 1970s as the team statistician of the St. Catharines Black Hawks and, once the club moved to Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Flyers.  It was only a natural progression that once I moved to Strathroy that I would volunteer with the local hockey team.

 

4. How did you get started?

As the owner of a local video store, I began as a sponsor for the Strathroy Blades.  A season’s ticket was one of the rewards for being a sweater sponsor, so I began attending games.  I thought it might be interesting to videotape some games to try and capture some memories.  One of the Rockets at that time, Ben Fryia, was billeting in town and renting movies from my store.  He noticed me watching the game tapes and asked to borrow them.  Ben then introduced me to Rocket management and suddenly I became the team videographer.

 

5. What do you find most rewarding about working with the team?

The word “volunteer” is derived from a word in Greek which means “to give freely of oneself with no thought of personal reward.”  As a volunteer with the Rockets, and in getting to know some of the volunteers from other teams in our league, we all share the joy of helping out in any way that we can.  No one volunteer position is more important than any other.  Our only reward is that some day we hope to see that young man with the “C” on his sweater raise that trophy over his head and we realize that we contributed to that championship in our own small way.

 

6. Besides your home rink, what’s your favourite arena to travel to? Why?

Well we need to look at this from a few different angles.

If we were talking about atmosphere, then definitely Chatham and Sarnia would be the clear choices.  The Rockets’ rivalry with these two franchises are intense.  Both the Maroons and the Legionnaires play in classic buildings with wild, enthusiastic fans.

From a broadcaster’s perspective, Chris Soares and I get stuck in some rather poor areas to call a game from.  This is not the fault of the organization, very little thought is put into press boxes when new arenas are built.  All the clubs try to help us as well as they can, however that often means being at ice level, in an end zone, or up in a corner of the rink.  A phone line is necessary to broadcast a game and many rinks do not have the necessary phone lines for a radio broadcast, so we are forced to run a line from a Minor Hockey fax machine like we do in Leamington and St. Thomas.  We are very grateful to Skate Sarnia’s Art for allowing us access to the Skate Sarnia booth.  That is our best location in the league.  We have a nice center ice location in St. Marys in the standing room area.  Chatham is hoping to get us into the radio booth this season if it is not being used.  That would be a most welcome change from our present broadcast location above the zamboni entrance in the end zone.

The most accommodating rink in the West would be in Forest.  Their staff are the most helpful and polite of any that we visit and as a bonus they have the best fries in the West.

I also enjoy our longer bus coach trips to LaSalle and Leamington.  It is nice to gather as a team, get some rest on a bus and enjoy the camaraderie with the players and staff.

Being able to take a trip once a year to my former hometown of St. Catharines for the Showcase Game is a huge thrill for me, as is a trip to Leamington to visit with league historian Scott Holland.

 

7. What arena do you hate going to? Why?

It would have to be London, Leamington and LaSalle.  These rinks have the poorest broadcast positions for Chris Soares and myself.  In London and Leamington, we are set up deep in the corner in the standing room area.  Considering that both of these rinks have Olympic sized ice surfaces it is incredibly difficult to call with any degree of certainty what is happening in the opposite end of the ice.  As well, London is likely the quietest rink in the West, almost devoid of any atmosphere whatsoever.  LaSalle would have our poorest location to broadcast a game.  We are set up at ice level behind the net that LaSalle defends for two periods.  Our view is constantly being blocked by players and officials.  Play at the opposite end of the ice is almost impossible to decipher, as well as the identity of any player skating towards you.

 

8. What do you like to do outside of the rink?

Being the sole proprietor of a video store, my off-ice time revolves around my business, where I spend 80 hours a week.  Music has always been a big part of my life, I enjoy listening to metal and classical.  My pet Savannah cat Scout also takes a great deal of my time.  She loves playing hockey and we have a lot of fun together.

 

9. Favourite memory from volunteering.

I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of two OHL championships with the St. Catharines Black Hawks and two Western Conference titles with the Strathroy Rockets.  Other than winning a championship, my biggest thrills would be seeing two of our former players, Andy McDonald and Jeff Carter win Stanley Cups.  Another great thrill was seeing former Rockets Scott O’Conner, Joey Talbot, Jeff MacLean, Scott Dickie and Josh Beaulieu win Memorial Cups.  Realistically, our best hockey rewards come whenever one of our players gets an opportunity to play at a higher level and our best rewards of all, occurs when any of our players develops into fine young men.

Being a billeting parent was a tremendous experience and one that I will always remember and cherish.  Sharing the joys, challenges and heartbreaks of a hockey season with the players was an unbelievable experience.  I would most heartily recommend anyone to open their homes and their hearts and becoming a billeting parent.

My favourite Rocket game would have to be game seven of the 1999-2000 semifinals.  The Rockets finished in 5th place that season and after disposing of the 4th place St.Thomas Stars in five games drew the very talented second place Sarnia Bees.  After falling behind 3 games to 2 in the series, the Rockets whipped the Bees in game 6 at the West Middlesex Memorial Centre on a Saturday night.  Game seven was a Sunday matinee the following afternoon at the Sarnia Sports and Entertainment Centre.   The team gathered for breakfast at the WMMC Sunday morning and headed to Sarnia.  Despite trailing on the scoreboard after the first period, the Rockets rallied with 4 goals from Jeff Campbell all on beautiful setups from linemate Rob McFeeters.  Steve Benedetti sealed the series with a pair of empty net goals.  It was the most emotional series that I ever had the honour to be a part of.  At that time it was the biggest playoff upset in Strathroy hockey history.

Stacy Brooks

Profile – Stacy Brooks

So this is the start of the profile feature and who better to start with than me.

 

Name: Stacy Brooks

Nickname(s): RocketGirl

Parents: Joe & Kathy Brooks

Brother: Mike Brooks

Work: Kirwin Fryday Medcalf Lawyers

Twitter: @TheRocketGirl16

 

1. What team do you volunteer for?

I don’t actually volunteer for a team anymore, but my team is the Strathroy Rockets.

 

2. What is your position with the team?

I do not have an official position with the team.  Over the years though, I’ve done many different jobs for the Rockets.  I worked the front door for a number of seasons, I did fundraising in the summers, did stats during the games, did player profiles, wrote articles for our programs, published our weekly program, and my greatest accomplishment was that I created, designed and maintained the first Rockets website.  These days though, I just consider myself to be super-fan.

 

3. Why do you volunteer for them?

Being with the Rockets is all I’ve ever known.  My Dad is the equipment manager, and has been since 1994-1995, so I’ve grown up around the team.  With that said, nothing makes me happier than being at my boys games, ringing my cowbell and cheering them on.

 

4. What do you find most rewarding about working with the team?

Meeting all the different people from the various teams.  Everyone knows of RG, I’ve built up quite the reputation and I’ve made a lot of friends over the years.  Sarnia’s GM, Big Bob, is my favourite GM in the league.  I try to go to Sarnia’s games when they’re in the area and, when they’re not playing the Rockets, I will spend the entire game talking to Bob.  He’s a good friend, my Dad’s known him for years, and if I don’t understand how something works, such as last season with Chatham and the imports, I ask Bob and he explains it to me.  I also have friends in Caledonia, Niagara Falls, and met some from Waterloo, Kitchener and Elmira last season.  My goal this season is to meet more people from the other teams.

 

5. Besides your home rink, what’s your favourite arena to travel to? Why?

I love the older arenas, they have more character and that ‘old time’ hockey atmosphere.  I absolutely love going to Sarnia and Chatham.  We always have good/great games against the Legionnaires and Maroons.  Not a lot of people like Sarnia or Chatham’s fans, the words ignorant and arrogant get thrown around a lot about them, but I’m sure the same gets said about me and you know what, they just make the experience even better.  There’s always a chance when we’re playing Sarnia or Chatham that I’m going to get into it with a fan from across the ice, or sometimes in the section right beside me, or in the same section, and it just makes it all the better.  We’re all passionate hockey fans for our teams and what more would you want?

 

6. How did you become known as RocketGirl?

When I joined the Western forum, in June 2004, the name I chose was RocketGirl, and that’s where it all began. 

I’m known as being loud, opinionated, stubborn, and a bit combative.  This is due to the fact that people assume because I’m a girl, I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to the game of hockey.  The typical opinion is that hockey is a man’s sport and any girl that watches it and follows it, is just a puck bunny.  I’ve spent the last 10 years proving that theory wrong.  Even today, there are still those that don’t think I know what I’m talking about and I continuously prove them wrong.

Unlike the average fan, I’ve taken the time to learn the rules.  I can almost bet that I’m one of the few people who have actually read the rule book and have a copy of it available at any time.  I pay attention at the games, I know what’s going on, and if somebody has a question and I don’t know the answer immediately, I usually know where to find it. 

The first few years of being RG, I didn’t admit that to people.  I didn’t want people to know because I get judged enough just on being Stacy Brooks.  But then I decided to embrace it, after all, it’s part of who I am.  So, I put my name on my Rockets sweater, and that was mostly because people used to get confused between me and hockey_girl, so this way they knew who was who.  Since then, there’s a lot of times when I’m wearing my sweater, whether at home or at an away game, and I’ll be walking around the arena and I’ll hear people behind me whisper, ‘That’s RocketGirl’, or they outright ask me.  And when I go out of Conference and meet people, my first question is, have you heard of RocketGirl, and the response is usually yes, in which I inform them, that’s me.

 

7. How did you get started with the blog?

Last season I got private messages on both the Western and Shoe forums from Kevin Legros, the site admin, explaining that he was changing the format of Local Sports Report, the host of the Golden Horseshoe forum, into blogs and asked if I wanted to be part of it.  With the opportunity to get my name out there even more and to get people to listen to my ideas, you bet I jumped at it.  Not that he’s ever said it to me, but I’ve been told by others that my Dad thinks I should try to get a position within the OHA, like Karen Phibbs.  She used to be part of the St. Thomas Stars and worked her way up to be on the Western League Board, then the OHA Board, and is now on the Hockey Canada Board of Directors.

Last season my blog was strictly about the Western Conference.  I could have just done it about the Rockets, but decided to challenge myself and make it Conference wide.  This season, the format of the blogs changed yet again and it was decided that I would be the blog manager for the GOJHL blog and try to recruit people to cover the Shoe and the Mid-West.  

 

8. What do you like to do outside of the rink?

Well, I work a full time, 40 hour a week job.  I also have the blog which takes up a lot of my time.  I also go to the gym a couple days a week, in the summers I watch baseball, and there’s the standard getting together with my friends.

 

9. Favourite Rocket/hockey memory

I have 20 seasons of Rockets memories, I can’t pick just one.  First would be watching the team win the Western League championship in 1997 and drinking from the Cup.  There’s the yelling match with Matt Pereira in Sarnia.  Hey HG, do you remember that?  Watching my boys come back from being down 3-1 in the series against Sarnia to win the Western League title again in 2007.  My 3-hour bonding experience in Chatham hospital with 1 of my boys a couple years ago.  In general, watching the veterans come back, seeing the rookies come in, and at the end of a season, watching those move on to bigger and better things.

There’s been a lot of memories and I’m not done yet.  I’m sure there are some that are hoping for it, but RG isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.  My personal hope with this blog is that it gets noticed and I get the opportunity to work with the GOJHL in an official capacity, or even the OHA one day.  My season goal is to make it on the radio, so if any of you are radio broadcasters and would like an interview with RG, let me know.

 

So there you have 9 questions and answers about me.  If you have any other questions, feel free to comment below, or email me at s_rockets@hotmail.com.  Or, if you happen to see me at a game, come by and say hi.  

Niagara Falls Canucks

Previews of Thorold Blackhawks and Niagara Falls Canucks

Thorold reload for 2014

By Bill Potrecz, The Standard

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/09/08/thorold-eload-for-2014

It was an off season of change for the Thorold Blackhawks, both on and off the ice.

The Blackhawks hit the ice for the 2014/15 Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season Wednesday at home versus Fort Erie with an almost entirely different roster and new coaching staff.

Former Port Colborne coach Bryan Kelly takes over as head coach from Ed Pizzo and will be joined by holdover Dave Brennan, and newcomers Peter Gallardi and ex-Thorold coach and owner Dan Timmins.

Kelly, who will also act as general manager, came on board mid-way through last season as the GM and admitted it was a tough situation.

“This year it’s totally different,” Kelly said. “Last year with the circumstances it was a very difficult situation. We came in and steered the ship as best we could.”

With the coaching staff in place, Kelly worked hard over the summer to recruit after the Hawks lost several key players from last season, either due to graduation or promotion to another level.

Gone to Trenton of the Ontario Junior Hockey League are captain Kevin Lavoie (24-33-57), forward Christian Defelice (11-10-21) and all-star rearguard Matt Pizzo (6-28-34). As well, Kyle Tanev (18-27-45) has moved to B.C and Carl Grecco (3-9-12) to Hamilton.

“It was great for the organization having players promoted over the summer to either junior A or out west, but as general manager and coach it puts a lot of pressure on us to reload the cupboard but I think we’ve done that really well,” Kelly said.

Kelly did a good dealing of wheeling and dealing in the summer, shipping goaltender Brandon Polasek to the Caledonia Corvairs for rearguard Greg Christmas and defenceman Kevin Millejours (3-8-11) to the Niagara Falls Canucks for gritty winger Vito Scaringi, who had 24 points and 148 minutes in penalties in 24 games last season.

“The biggest trade of summer was Vito Scaringi from the Falls,” Kelly said.

Kelly also brought in several newcomers including defencemen Tyler Sehovic, a 19-year-old from Trenton, and 18-year-old Justin Whitwell. Goaltender Josh Asterino was picked up from the Grimsby Peach Kings to team with returning veteran Ian Shorthouse between the pipes, while up front Chris Molnar (Buffalo), Alex Panov (Ancaster) and Anthony Postiglione (North Bay) are among the most notable newcomers.

“I really liked the guys we picked up,” Kelly said. “We had a really good summer.

“Tyler Sehovic is better that I thought. He’s dynamite. He’s going to be a top D in our league.”

The Hawks will also feature three local 16-year-olds, all drafted by Ontario Hockey League clubs: Defenceman Connor Timmins (Sault Ste. Marie) and forwards Mitch Mendonca (Belleville) and Kyle Langdon (Niagara). Teams are permitted two 16-year-olds unless they acquire an 16-year-old card.

“We have three local stud 16-year-old thoroughbreds who are going to be given a chance to develop and be looked upon as go-to guys,” Kelly said.

As well, defenceman Ryan Sarris could be back. The 17-year-old draft pick of the IceDogs is still in OHL camp, although he has yet to play due to mononucleosis. Nick Sacco (3-2-5) and Francesco Gigliotti (2-4-6) are also back up front.

Overall, Kelly is pumped about the direction of the organization.

“I think it’s too early to tell (our identity) but I know what our program is always going to be,” he said. “I know every year we’re going to play a certain way and follow a system and play the game the right way and be competitive. Regardless of who are wearing the 21 jerseys, that is how we are going to play.”

The Hawks finished last season in fourth place with a 24-18-8 mark before being eliminated in the second round by the eventual Sutherland Cup champion Corvairs.

“We’re OK. We’re in good shape,” Kelly said.” I think right where we want to be. We’ll be knocking on the door and be right about where we were last year.”

The Hawks are also in Niagara Falls Friday.

bill.potrecz@sunmedia.ca

twitter@BillPStandard

 

NF junior hockey roundup

By Bernie Puchalski

http://www.stcatharinesstandard.ca/2014/09/08/nf-junior-hockey-roundup

It’s go time for the Niagara Falls Canucks junior B hockey team.

“We made our final cuts yesterday (Sunday) after the game and we’re ready to start our season now,” Canucks head coach/owner Frank Pietrangelo said.

Pietrangelo can’t wait for his first season as the Canucks head bench boss.

“It has been a long couple weeks and we had a lot of kids here,” he said.

The Canucks started their training camp with upwards of 60 kids trying to crack the roster.

“It’s not easy to evaluate everybody in such a short period. You want to be fair to the kids and give them a good look, but at the same time there’s rules as far as 16-year-old cards and imports,” Pietrangelo said. “Every time you make a decision, it’s one thing after another.”

The Canucks concluded the exhibition this past weekend with a pair of games against the Welland Junior Canadians. Zack Lansfield scored a hat trick in a 5-4 shootout win at home Friday and then the Canucks lost 6-0 in Welland Sunday night.

“It was probably just the line-up,” Pietrangelo said, of the disparity between the two games. “We dressed a lot of the younger guys and we had eight kids out of the line-up.

“It’s not making excuses. It’s just training camp and in this situation, you try to give all the kids a chance.”

The Canucks open their regular season Friday at 7:30 p.m. at the Gale Centre against the visiting Thorold Blackhawks.

Chatham Maroons

Goalie Battle Shaping Up for Maroons

Goaltending Battle Shaping Up In Maroons Crease

 

http://cksn.ca/2014/09/goaltending-battle-shaping-maroons-crease/

 

With the GOJHL regular season rapidly approaching, the Chatham Maroons are looking to make a vital decision regarding their most important role, goaltending.

According to Maroons management, the team has locked up Jacob Lucier as one of their two goalies for the coming season. As for their other goaltender, well, “that decision will be made this weekend,” wrote Maroons assistant GM Bill Cumming to CKSN.

The team plans to sign their second goaltender following Sunday’s exhibition game.

Lucier, who is the only netminder currently signed to the Chatham Maroons, spent last season with both the Kemptville 73s, of the Central Canadian Junior A Hockey League, and the Great Lakes Junior C’s Belle River Canadiens.

A LaSalle product, Lucier played 14 games with Kemptville to start the 2013-2014 season, collecting a 5-8 record, along with a 4.13 goals against average, and a 0.881 save percentage. Starting the new year in Belle River, Lucier, a former goalie with Ridley College, and the Sun County ‘AAA’ Panthers, played in 8 games with the Belle River Canadiens, going 5-2 with a 3.39 GAA and 0.896 save percentage.

Whoever signs with the Maroons this weekend, it is unlikely, unless the team acquires a netminder that has not been with the Maroons in camp, that they’ll have a clear cut number one to start the season.

The remaining two netminders in Maroons camp are Scott Tricker and Bo Bessette. Tricker a former Maroons played with Belle River last season. Bessette has split the last three seasons between the OJHL and OHL.

The Chatham Maroons also signed Blenheim product Hunter Burk. A big bodied forward who spent last season at the Hill Academy, after growing up in the Chatham-Kent Cyclones organization, Burk will add depth to the Maroons forward corps.

Chatham’s final preseason game gets underway Sunday at Memorial Arena at 7pm against the Sarnia Legionnaires.

Brantford 99ers

99ers GM Keen on Forwards

99ers open season on Sept. 11 at Gretzky centre

The Brantford 99ers are almost set to begin Season 2 in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Mid-Western Conference.

After missing the 2013-14 playoffs as an expansion team, the 99ers are hoping some experience and upgrades will get them to the post-season for this year’s campaign.

“I think with the group we’re bringing back from last year, they’re the right mix,” said Brantford general manager Mike Spadafora, whose team begins its regular season on Sept. 11 with a 7:30 p.m. game at the Wayne Gretzky Sports Centre against the Waterloo Siskins.

“They get along and they have the right attitude. Combined with the new guys we’ve brought in, I know we’re going to be a much better hockey team.”

The start of the 99ers’ second campaign got underway back in the spring with a rookie camp and then things really heated up when main camp opened around the middle of August.

Branford has had several sessions on the ice with head coach Scott Rex and his assistants and the team has also played four exhibition games, going 2-2.

With one more exhibition game to go – on Saturday in Waterloo at 4:30 p.m. – the team has signed close to 20 players.

Returnees will include Guy Polillo, Mitch Atkins, Paris Briscoe, Cole Cummings and Ryan Pererria up front and Keegan Alvestad, Anthony VanLooyen and Nathan Ferris on the back end.

There is also a chance that defenceman David Storey, a stalwart for the team last season, will return. Currently he is trying out for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks in the British Columbia Hockey League.

Atkins will be returning from Waterloo, where he was sent at the trade deadline last year for cash, a future consideration (not yet obtained) and the promise that the Siskins would send him back to Brantford for this season.

During his time as a 99er last year, Atkins formed a potent combination with Polillo and Nathan Bastien. With Bastien now in Mississauga playing for the Ontario Hockey League’s Steelheads, Spadafora feels he’s found a replacement in Ohio product Zander Pryor.

“It was huge for us,” he said of getting Atkins back.

“He’s an all-star. He’s looking to put up some big numbers this year. Him and Polillo were great together.

“Obviously (Nathan) Bastien was there but I think we’ve found a pretty good replacement for Nathan Bastien.

“(Pryor is) highly skilled. His skill set is through the roof. He’s a powerful skater and his work ethic and compete level is through the roof.”

With nifty hands and some great speed, Pryor will fit in nicely with Atkins and Polillo, said Spadafora.

The above-mentioned players will be joined by several newcomers.

Spadafora said that, on defence, he likes composure shown by 19-year-old Dominik Horvath and he also feels that the team will benefit from the flexibility of former Brantford Minor Hockey Association player Matt Woods, who can play defence or forward.

Spadafora said that Gus Ford, who plays forward, is “probably the most skilled guy on our team.”

Brett Parsons is a player who can score and play a physical game and he’ll join fellow BMHA graduate Ford up front.

Former BMHA forwards Christian Polillo and Evan Bidenti have signed as the team’s 16-year-olds for this season while forward Trayvon Henry, an Erie Otters draft pick, will be looking to continue where he left off last season – as the rookie of the year for the Huntsville Otters in the Georgian Bay Jr. C League.

Spadafora said David Denardi, who skated previously in the Greater Toronto Hockey League but didn’t play last year, will show fans at the Gretzky centre just what fast is all about.

“We’re excited about our forwards,” the GM said. “I think our top-six are comparable to any top-six in the league.

“The firepower we have up front, they’re not a group that we’ve assembled to play more of a defensive style.

“Obviously we’re going to be committed to our end but we’re going to hope to push the limits with our forwards and have them control the game.

“The speed and talent we have up front will dictate the way we play.”

The team has signed just one goalie – Mathieu Kingsley from Sudbury – while it weighs its options for second netminder.

With the pieces falling into place, the 99ers are ready to achieve their goal of making the playoffs this season.

“We’re pretty pumped up,” Spadafora said. “It’s a different feel from last year. Last year being our first year, hockey wasn’t the only focus. There was so much to get organized in a short period of time. This year, now that we’ve set the groundwork for the business side, we’ve been able to focus on the hockey.

“Adding these new players has brought a lot of excitement to the guys coming back from last year. There’s a buzz around our coaches room. We’re definitely looking forward to opening night next Thursday.

“We’re going to be a lot better than we were last year.”

brian.smiley@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/expbsmiley