Head coach Brandon Boyd has five returning players
By Pat Payton
Head coach Brandon Boyd hopes all members of his ANAF Unit 265 Bantams will contribute to the team’s offensive production this 2018-19 season.
“I think goal scoring is going to be by committee,” Boyd said in a recent interview with the Independent. “With our defensive core and Nic Kiestra in net, I think we’ll be able to keep the puck out of our net, but we’ll have to find some reliable offence.”
Boyd, now in his fourth season at the helm of the ‘BB’ Bantams, has five returnees from a year ago. They are: forwards Ethan Froggett, Ben Richardson and Keegan Nethercott, and defencemen Mason Boonstra and Ben Turner.
“It’s early yet, but what excites me is the depth of this group,” Boyd pointed out. “We have three lines that will contribute at both ends of the ice, five defencemen who should jockey for ice time all season, and a big, mobile goalie. We have the tools to be a contender.
“We have a strong returning presence, but we also have an equally strong group that’s come up (from the Frayne Custom Cabinets A-E Bantams and Firefighter ‘BB’ Peewees). I think everyone is going to challenge each other to make each other better.
“The kids are really committed to learning,” the coach continued. “Whether we’re at dryland with Bob’s Fitness or prepping for a game, they seemed to be dialed in.”
A new skater with the team is forward Porter Aitken, who lives in St. Marys but played the last couple of seasons in Stratford.
Coach Boyd talked about the area where improvement is needed the most right now.
“We need these boys to become compatible,” he said. “In the exhibition games to date, you can sometimes hear a pin drop, and it shows on the ice. More practices are needed of course, but putting their teammates above their personal agendas will be crucial for this group.”
Other returning members of Boyd’s staff include: assistant coaches Norm Coulthard and Colton Drinkwalter, manager Kellen Fifield and trainer Mike Glover. Along with Boyd, this group has guided the ‘BB’ Bantams for the last four years.
Shutout for Kiestra
Nic Kiestra, meanwhile, earned a shutout in the team’s Shamrock League season opener recently, a 2-0 victory over the North Middlesex Stars in Parkhill. He was a member of the Frayne Bantams last season.
In their home opener last Wednesday night, the ANAF squad built a commanding 6-0 first-period lead and then cruised to an easy 10-2 win over the Belmont Rangers.
Pacing a balanced Rock attack were winger Keegan Nethercott with a hat trick and Maurice Kiestra with a pair of goals. The singles came off the sticks of Ben Richardson, Porter Aitken, Kaleb Schalk, Ethan Froggett (powerplay) and Ethan Brine. Defenceman Brine also collected four assists. Contributing two assists each were Schalk, Kirk Boreham, Ben Turner and RJ Martin.
After SHL games this week against Strathroy and Ilderton, coach Boyd and his staff will get a good early-season indication when they take their team to the Bob Beaumont Bantam Rep Otters Classic in Huntsville this weekend, Oct. 12-14.
The Bantam Rock will also compete in two other tournaments before the New Year: the Strathroy Olympics (Nov. 8-11) and the Pelham Regional Silver Stick event (Dec. 27-29).
2018-19 team roster
The ANAF ‘BB’ Bantams’ 2018-19 roster is as follows: Ben Richardson, Ethan Froggett, Kirk Boreham, Porter Aitken, Kaleb Schalk, Carter Reid, Aaron Vernooy, Keegan Nethercott, Maurice Kiestra, Ben Turner, Mason Boonstra, Ethan Brine, RJ Martin, Jeremy Stephens and Nicolas Kiestra.