TRURO - The Fundy Phantoms haven't changed their identity after all, but they do have a new face behind the bench.
Troy McNutt was calling the shots for junior C hockey club, which was supposed to change its name to the Truro Junior Rangers this season after moving from Tatamagouche to Truro, as it opened its season on the road Sunday in a 6-4 win over the Oxford Colts in Amherst.
"It really gets the monkey off our back and shows that all the hard work that's gone into the team over the last couple months is starting to pay off," McNutt, a 29-year-old Truro resident said of getting the season started with a victory.
McNutt became head coach after former bench boss Chris Sprague resigned after getting accepted into the correctional officer program at Holland College's Atlantic Police Academy near Summerside.
"I had to make the decision for myself," Sprague, who coached the team last season and won league and Maritime titles with the Eastern Shore Mariners in 2009-10, said. "It had nothing to do with hockey, otherwise I'd still be there doing it."
Originally McNutt was to serve as an assistant under Sprague, but was asked to take over the head-coaching role after Sprague informed team executives of his decision.
"I was excited," McNutt said. "I thought it would be a good chance to take the team in the direction I wanted to see it go. Like any sport, we want to win a championship and if I didn't think we could I wouldn't have taken the job."
McNutt then brought in assistants Novaro Mentis and Peter Turner and trainer Ben Bruhm.
At the same time, delays in the opening of the civic centre left the team's home dates in limbo as the Truro Bearcats have been forced to remain at Colchester Legion Stadium, leaving the rinks officials unable to guarantee the Phantoms the ice time they had originally been allotted.
The team will now be playing its home dates at Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex in Brookfield.
"We didn't feel it would be right to call ourselves Truro and be playing in Brookfield or wherever we found ice," general manager Jeannie Morris said. " So we thought it was easier to stay with the status quo for now. At that point we were worried about finding a coaching staff, not new shirts."
In spite of all the upheaval, Sprague said he feels the team has a lot to look forward to this season.
"There's a good foundation in place," he said. "I think they'll be fine."