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Cougars on the prowl


NORTH SYDNEY — Although the Joneljim Cougars are icing an experienced team for a new Nova Scotia Major Bantam Hockey League season, it’s still been a learning experience for the club.

The team has a new coaching staff this fall, which means new systems to learn and a new way of doing things.

“Although we have nine returning players, I’m new to all of them, so I think there’s a lot of learning going on right now,” said new head coach Gerard Laffin. “Over the last three weekends, we’re starting to see a lot of progress. They’re starting to get a handle on what we’re teaching. They’re working hard on their skills.

“I think the only goal we have right now is to be better every day. We’re not looking at the win/loss column at this point of the season, it’s all about progression and for them to learn.”

Laffin, of Little Bras d'Or, replaced Kenny Tracey of Glace Bay, who moved on to coach the Cape Breton Tradesmen major midget hockey club. Laffin had served as an assistant with the Tradesmen since the 2006-07 season.

“For me, it’s been a breath of fresh air,” Laffin said. “I really like how interested they are in learning. There doesn’t seem to be many distractions. They’re always focused on the game.”

Back into the fold for the Cougars are forwards Jacob Denny, team captain Kinnon Williams, Daymon Johnson, Bryden Johnston, Kenzie MacKinnon and Sam Gillis; defencemen Tyler Mortimer and Dylan MacLeod; and goaltender Seth Crowe.

The Cougars sport a 1-3-0-0 record, and skated to their first win last weekend: a 3-0 shutout of the Dartmouth Whalers on the road. After a few weeks in opposing team’s barns, they’ll play their first home games at the Emera Centre Northside in North Sydney this weekend when they host the Western Hurricanes (1-2-1-0) on Saturday at 7:15 p.m. and Sunday at 11:15 a.m.

“We don’t have many newer guys, we have a lot of returners,” said Williams, a 14-year-old right wing from Sydney in his second season with the club. “We have a lot of experience coming back and this should be a big year for us.”

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