Lincolns holding Alumni game this Saturday at 6 p.m.
By Pat Payton
The management and coaching staff believe the St. Marys Lincolns have great potential this 2018-19 season.
And the players are also convinced they can make some noise and turn this proud, long-standing Jr. ‘B’ franchise into a winner again.
“We’re a young team, but I think we have a lot of potential through the whole line-up,” said captain Blair Butchart, who led Mount Forest Patriots to back-to-back Jr. ‘C’ playoff titles the last two seasons. “At the start there’ll be some learning curves, and we have to make sure we don’t let our highs get too high and our lows too low.”
In Mount Forest, Butchart played under new Lincs’ head coach Trent McClement. The talented centreman says McClement is bringing his same hockey philosophies to St. Marys.
“He’s already started it,” Butchart said. “With this group of guys, I feel we’re catching on really quick. It works at all levels, it’s just a matter of executing it. If we can all grasp the importance of what he is saying, it will definitely lead to our success.”
Butchart, who collected 79 points with the Patriots last season, says McClement communicates well with the players.
“Trent’s an easy guy to come talk to if you have any questions,” Butchart says. “He’s always talking to players when they finish a shift. He wants you to develop and get better every shift.
“He’s a players’ coach who lets you use your creativity for sure.”
Players ‘buying in’ to systems
Tanner Hertel says the players are “buying in” to the coach’s systems.
“The young kids believe that we are a good team, and it really shows on the ice,” Hertel says. “The work ethic and commitment have been there from day one.
“We also have a few older guys on the team, and I know the young guys look up to them. What makes it really exciting is that we are a younger group that can play well against teams that have a lot of 19 and 20-year-olds.”
Jake Weston, who was named Lincolns’ top defenceman last season, sees a different team philosophy this year.
“This year, I see players who want to win, and they don’t worry about themselves,” Weston says. “It’s kind of our premise that we play for each other; it’s kind of our motto. We’re sticking with it and we’re getting success.
“I think that’s the difference, it’s more of a team effort instead of single players. The boys are a lot closer in the room; it’s a different atmosphere in that dressing room.”
Jr. hockey notebook:
–St. Marys minor hockey product Kyle Morning was invited to be London Knights’ back-up goaltender last Friday night at Budweiser Gardens for an OHL pre-season game against Erie Otters. Morning practiced twice with the Knights prior to the game.
The 19-year-old St. Marys native has returned to Lucan Jr. ‘C’ Irish for another season. He is a first-year student at Fanshawe College, studying construction engineering management.
–The Lincolns are holding another Alumni Game this Saturday, Sept. 22, prior to the St. Marys-St. Thomas GOJHL game. The Alumni game, featuring former Lincs’ players, is slated for 6 p.m.
–At an executive meeting last week, Lincolns’ president Brandon Boyd praised Jim MacEachern and his management/scouting staff. “They deserve a huge pat on the back for rebuilding the hockey team” after Lincs lost several players at the Christmas break, leaving last season in jeopardy.
–Komoka Kings, under new head coach Ron Horvat, have eight players back from last season.
“We just don’t have a lot of experience; a lot of the players haven’t played Junior hockey before,” Horvat said during a pre-season stop in St. Marys. “Half the battle is, I don’t know these kids and I have to get to know these kids and that takes time. It’s a process.”
Horvat, who has over 30 years experience as a coach, guided Chatham Maroons for the past year and a half. He resigned following the 2017-18 season to take the Komoka job.
–LaSalle Vipers have 11 returning players, plus they added two players with Junior experience in off-season trades. One of those new skaters is defenceman Danny Skinner, who helped Listowel Cyclones win the Sutherland Cup last season.
“We’re a young squad and we’re happy where we’re headed,” head coach John Nelson said before last Friday’s game in St. Marys. “We have a lot of speed and we’re a tenacious team that’s hard to play against.
“Our No. 1 goal here is to develop the players, and to do that you have to have the puck on your stick, and the systems in place to allow them to skate a lot.”
–Forward Shaun General, who finished last season in St. Marys, is now a member of the Brantford 99ers of the GOJHL’s Midwestern Conference.
–A couple of teams have re-located in the GOJHL’s Golden Horseshoe Conference.
Ancaster has moved to Hamilton, and the team is now called the Kilty B’s. The Regals, meanwhile, have moved from Buffalo to Lockport, N.Y.
With Caledonia Corvairs taking a one-year leave of absence, the Golden Horseshoe loop will operate with just eight teams this season.