The Brookfield Elks enjoyed an outstanding playoff run last season in the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League, battling the Sackville Blazers the full seven games before being eliminated in the Fred Fox Division final.
Flash forward to 2013-14 and it’s a far different story with the 2-5-0-0 Elks sitting in the division basement.
No doubt inexperience has much to do with the slow start with the Brookfield roster consisting of 14 newcomers and just six returnees.
“The new players are bringing a lot of enthusiasm,” said veteran goaltender Spencer Scott. “We have quite a number of young players trying to establish themselves with the team. Through hard work and dedication we’re hopeful everything will come together.”
Scott, 21, spent two seasons with the Truro Bearcats (junior A) before joining the Elks last season.
“Accountability is important for every player on the team,” said the Bible Hill resident. “Early in the season it has to be established what each player has to bring to the table. When we come to the rink we have to be 100 per cent engaged in the game and challenge.”
Lucas Dawe, 20, is a fifth-year member of the Elks and the team captain. The Brookfield resident is also second in team scoring with two goals and seven assists.
“The heart and effort is definitely there to battle it out every night,” said Dawe. “We can have a successful year if we come to play. We have to continue pulling together as a team.”
Assistant captain Ryan Crowe, a third-year forward, said the long playoff run last season was a career highlight and is hopeful the Elks will soon begin climbing up the standings.
“We’ll have a chance to win some hockey games by working hard and buying into the system,” he said. “Cutting down on our mistakes will help. The team spirit is good. I can see this hockey club beginning to improve.”
Joining the Elks this season from the Metro Shipbuilders of the Maritime Junior Hockey League is right-winger Leon Knockwood who leads the team in scoring with six goals and three assists.
“I’m enjoying playing with the Elks,” said Knockwood, 18, of Indian Brook. “We’re beginning to build a strong bond. I feel the more practices and the more games we get in, the better we’ll get to know each other and the better we’ll play. We’re all looking forward to two big weekend games. It would be nice to come up with four points.”
Another promising newcomer is defenceman Kaden Augustine who played AA midget hockey last season with the Cape Breton County Islanders.
“I like our team a lot,” said Augustine, 18, of Eskasoni. “We’re a young team and all we talk about is hockey. The team spirit is excellent and every player wants to do better.”
An announcement is expected shortly regarding the Elks head coaching position.
Hugh Matheson has missed a number of games because of health issues caused by kidney stones.
A coaching legend in these parts, Matheson guided the Bearcats to a number of junior hockey championships during the 1960s and 1970s. He came out of retirement late last season to guide the Elks during their lengthy playoff run.
Josh Boulton, assisted by Charles Bowers, coached the Elks on Tuesday night, a 4-2 loss to the visiting Pictou Scotians.
The Elks were in Port Hawkesbury last night to play the Strait Pirates.
Tonight, they’ll host the Glace Bay Miners at 7:30 p.m.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears every Saturday in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.