Lincolns have also committed to four other skaters
By Pat Payton
Thirteen of last year’s players want to return and play a key role with St. Marys Lincolns next season. And new General Manager Greg Smale also announced at the team’s Annual General Meeting last Monday (May 13th) at the PRC that Lincs have also committed to four other players at the present time. Those names won’t be released until after June 1st.
With that solid nucleus of 17 players, Lincolns appear to be in great shape heading towards the 2019-20 GOJHL season. Lincs’ main training camp starts Aug. 14th and runs to Sept. 1st.
“We’re really excited about the team,” Smale said. “Last year was about putting a good group of guys on the ice and getting them to stay here. This year, we want to win more games than we lose. We want to be a factor in this league and we want to play playoff hockey in St. Marys.”
Expects competitive camp
Even though Lincolns have a strong core returning, Smale stresses that all players will have to earn their spots at the main camp, which is expected to be very competitive.
“We’re committing to kids and returning players, but that doesn’t guarantee them a spot,” the GM said. “They have to come in and show they are capable of playing and can help the team win hockey games.
“We finished in ninth place last year, and ninth place isn’t good enough. If we think we can upgrade in an area, then we’re going to upgrade. We’re going to have a competitive camp. Players have to make the team come August; everyone’s going to have to fight for their jobs.”
A question mark right now is Joe Mazur, of Sudbury, who finished fourth in team scoring a year ago with 14 goals and 31 points. The 17-year-old centreman is trying out for Sudbury Wolves in the fall, the Ontario Hockey League team that drafted him in the seventh round in 2017. Goalie Justin Richer, 19, won’t be back. He’s attending college and playing hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, starting in the fall.
Wants to build a winner
Smale recently accepted the position of Director of Hockey Operations/GM after Jim MacEachern stepped down, citing “a huge time commitment.” MacEachern, from Kitchener, spent approximately 18 months with the team.
“It’s a huge honour to be in this position,” Smale said in his Hockey Operations address at the AGM. “Growing up a Lincolns fans, watching guys like Dan Schiedel, Dan Murrell and Kevin McDougall play here, to be in this situation is a tremendous honour.
“With that being said, I don’t take this job lightly. We are going to work extremely hard to build a winning hockey team. We took that first step last year, but now it’s time to enter Phase 2 of that plan. It’s full steam ahead, and we’re excited about what could happen here.”
–Lincolns have scheduled four pre-season games next fall–home and home with Stratford Warriors and Cambridge RedHawks of the Midwestern Conference.
–Lincs are taking applications for an assistant GM, the position Smale held for the past 18 months. Hockey resumes should be sent to him. A new assistant coach will also be announced in the near future.
–Lincolns are planning a barbecue early next month to introduce new players who are signing with the team.
–Lincs have been running power-skating sessions twice a week since the end of last season, led by coach Trent McClement.
–Elimination draw tickets for the 2019-20 season are now available. A total of 500 tickets are being sold, and the last ticket drawn wins $15,000.
Lincs bank funds towards strong season in 2019-20
By Pat Payton
St. Marys Lincolns didn’t have the season they wanted on the ice. But the 2018-19 GOJHL campaign was a resounding success from a financial standpoint, putting the hockey club in a stronger position as they look forward to the 2019-20 season.
Despite the Lincs’ ninth-place Western Conference finish which left them without any playoff revenue for a second straight season, the team was able to post a profit during the year, treasurer Stewart Grant reported at the club’s AGM May 13th.
In presenting the organization’s balance sheet, treasurer Grant noted “the lack of brackets around our cash position this year-end,” pointing to the Lincolns’ positive cash balance of $9,000. This was an improvement over each of the prior three years in which the club was into its Line of Credit at season’s end.
Although the 2018-19 budget had called for roughly a break-even season, Lincs posted a profit due to a combination of trade surplus from player movements and from strong fundraising initiatives. With Lincolns nicely in the black, “it’s huge for the stability of the franchise,” Grant said.
Grant credited the Hockey Operations department with prudent management of funds and for banking dollars this past season that can be used this coming year as the team looks to make a strong playoff run. “If you’re going to have a winning franchise, you have to invest in players,” the treasurer said. “A better financial situation allows us to make some key moves.”
Alumni Game a success
The recent St. Marys Lincolns vs. Montreal Canadiens Alumni Game was a winner for the hockey club, Grant reported. Although the March game required a leap of faith to justify the approximate $25,000 investment, the hockey club realized net profits from the event of around $14,000.
After a two-year hiatus, an Elimination Draw fundraiser took place this past season, in partnership with St. Marys Minor Hockey. This was an important source of funds during the year, as was the weekly 50/50 draw, which was conducted in partnership with the Rotary Club of St. Marys.
Grant also highlighted the tremendous support received from the community through the annual sponsorship campaign. Over 120 local businesses sponsored the hockey club during the season, representing the organization’s number one source of funds.
–President Brandon Boyd praised GM Greg Smale, head coach Trent McClement and Director of Player Personnel Paul Gaudet for the “phenomenal job” they did organizing and running the Lincs’ spring mini-camp last month. “The future is bright with these three guys in charge.”
Boyd also noted that he is “proud of Lincolns’ financial picture” compared to a year ago.
–Eight people ran for the five available director spots on the Lincolns’ board. New directors are Shari Ann Chmiel and Spencer Seymour. Returning directors are Mike Morning, Christine Palmer and Bob Daykin.
They join directors Dan Murrell, Dan Schiedel, Norm Penney, Tyler McCurdy and Pat Payton (term expires in 2020), and Ed Parkinson, Rob Mossey, Jamie McFadden, Dave Grant and George Cifa (term expires in 2021).
–President Boyd, vice-president Bill Lowe, secretary Pete Frehner and treasurer Stewart Grant–the four men sitting on the Lincs’ executive–were all acclaimed.
“There are legitimate goals to be Sutherland Cup champions in the next few years,” Boyd said. “It’s tough building a winner (in a small market), but it’s our realistic goal to be Sutherland Cup champions. We’ve dug ourselves out of a financial hole, now it’s time to win on the ice.”
–President Boyd described the turnout as “awesome” for last week’s AGM. Approximately 50 people attended and Boyd was thrilled with the support shown for the hockey club.
–Lincolns’ golf tournament is this Saturday, May 25 at St. Marys G&CC. Convener Dan Murrell says they’d like to get between 90 and 100 golfers at the 37th annual event. Former Lincs’ goalie and head coach Jason Bukala is the after-dinner guest speaker. He’s now head of amateur scouting for the NHL’s Florida Panthers. For those wishing to attend the meal only, it’s $50.
–Director Jamie McFadden is going to town council to request that the Lincolns’ logo (at a cost of $350 to the team) be placed on the four town signs on the outskirts of St. Marys.