Pair of new coaches includes former NHLer Mark Bell
By Dan Rankin
The St. Marys Lincolns’ front office and bench staff will both receive an infusion of young blood in the coming season, as St. Marys native Brandon Boyd, 25, has been selected as the organization’s new president, and former NHLer Mark Bell, who turns 36 in two weeks, will be joining the club as an assistant coach.
On Wednesday, July 13, president of the St. Marys Lincolns for the past three years Steve Stapleton announced his resignation from the position. In a statement, Stapleton said he regretted being unable to build a winning team, however he could “leave with the accomplishments we attained last year as a playoff team, working on the evolution of the GOJHL and promoting numerous players to higher levels.”
“I believe that it is time to let others take the responsibilities associated with the position given the differences that persist,” he said. “Thank you all for continuing to support the Lincolns.”
The team issued a statement as well, thanking Stapleton “for his commitment to the Lincolns hockey team when he was apart of the organization.”
The following evening, the team’s executive members held a meeting at which the board supported Boyd’s nomination to be the new president. Don Corby was named new VP in charge of Business Operations, while Bill Bourne became VP Sports Operations and Stewart Grant was named Secretary/Treasurer.
“It hasn’t entirely sunk in yet, but I’m thrilled to be part of the hardworking group that is working to improve the club,” Boyd, an account executive for Orr Insurance, told the Independent. “Aside from looking at wins and losses, I truly want to restore the club’s significance in the community. The club has such a rich history. With so many knowledgeable, passionate hockey people in town, I think we can all chip in to make the Lincolns a pillar of St. Marys again.”
Founded in 1956, the Lincolns are seven-time league champions and two-time Sutherland Cup champs, but haven’t won a game or a series in the post-season since 2012. That was also the last time they finished the regular season higher than eighth place in the standings. The Lincolns have missed the playoffs two out of the last four seasons.
Thus, some other major changes were also in the cards this season. One such change took place this week, with the announcement that the eighth overall selection in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft, Mark Bell, a Perth South native, would be joining the team’s coaching staff as an assistant coach. Besides playing for about a decade in the NHL with the Blackhawks, Sharks, Maple Leafs and Ducks, assistant coach Bell will also be able to draw on an impressive junior hockey career, which saw him play four seasons in the OHL for the Ottawa 67’s, winning the Memorial Cup in 1999.
“We are very excited to have Mark commit to being an assistant coach with the Lincolns,” Lincolns GM Glen Childerley told the Independent. “Mark will bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to the Lincolns and will quickly gain the respect from the players because of his resume and easy going nature.”
Joining Bell on the coaching staff are assistant coach Rick O’Donnell and goalie/video coach Doug Groenstage. “Doug also brings a great hockey resume with him and we are excited to have him onboard as well,” Childerley said. “We have made several changes this summer and now feel we are moving in a positive direction.”
Boyd echoed that sentiment. “I think we have a fantastic group that all share a common vision,” he said. “Each person brings something different to the table, and the new directors are devoted as well. Many hands make light work.”
Boyd’s new role with the Lincolns is just the latest in what is already a long list of volunteer contributions from the community-minded Stonetown resident. This season marks Boyd’s sixth year as Vice President of St. Marys Mens Slo-Pitch, and this winter he’ll be entering his fourth year coaching for the St. Marys Minor Hockey Association, as well as his second year on the board of directors.
On top of all that, Boyd has organized the annual Easter No Body Contact hockey tournament the past two years, and served as commissioner of the recreational Stonetown Summer Hockey League for the past three years.
With some Lincolns events coming up next month, including their minor hockey skills development “Summer Hockey School” (Aug 15-19 at the Pyramid Centre starting at 6:45 pm), the team’s training camp (Monday, Aug. 22 at 6:30 at the PRC), and their four-game exhibition schedule (beginning Aug. 24 in Listowel at 7:30 pm), Boyd said he expects the remaining vacant spots on the coaching staff “to be filled very soon.”
He encouraged anyone interested in getting involved with the team as a coach or volunteer to contact Vice President Don Corby by calling him at 519-282-1942 or emailing, email@example.com, or to reach out to Boyd at Bboyd@OrrInsurance.net.