The sports world is full of opinions, armchair coaches are a dime a dozen. Throwing a question out there for junior B hockey fans – can the Brookfield Elks ice a competitive team this season?
You bet your bottom dollar they can and the man to back this old writer’s words up is none other than Phil Lynds.
Coaching junior hockey for the past seven years, Lynds seems to have a bonded quality that rubs off on his assistant coaches and his players as well. His background includes developing quite a number of peewee AAA, bantam AAA and midget AAA hockey players down through the years. Teams coached by Lynds have won seven provincial hockey championships and he has taken teams to the Atlantics on five occasions.
Following several seasons of missing out on post-season action, the Elks recently named Lynds head coach. Meeting recently with the Brookfield Athletic Association board, Lynds and his group touched on upgrading plans. Besides Lynds, Kim DesChamps, Troy McNutt and Josh Boulton representedthe new-look Elks.
“I thought it was an excellent opportunity for both sides to meet,” Lynds said. “We talked about the upcoming season, what our expectations are, some goals that we have and we gave a general overview of the direction we hope the team is headed.”
Lynds said he looks up to the athletic association and their outstanding accomplishments over the years.
“The BAA have been staunch supporters of local sports, they had some excellent questions for our group. We were allowed to answer all the questions and we came away with a definite appreciation of what the BAA does around the community of Brookfield.”
Lynds is high on Howie Atwater, the team’s new general manager.
“In my opinion, Howie is the best GM in the league. He’s been recruiting players all summer long, he’s put hundreds of hours in trying to improve our hockey club. Howie has the player’s interest at heart, this makes him special. We are extremely lucky to have Howie with the Elks.”
Troy McNutt will join Lynds behind the bench as an assistant coach.
“Troy is a very detailed individual,” said Lynds. “Troy knows every strength, from winning face-offs to specialty teams, he tracks everything. Troy is great regarding weaknesses a team has to work on, he can develop a practice to fit these needs.”
Dennis Nolan, a former Elks goaltender, will be the goaltender coach.
“I feel our goaltending will benefit greatly from Dennis’s experience as a netminder.”
Ernie McNea will return as the Elks equipment manager and Dennis Wheeler will handle the trainer’s duties.
“It’s been a difficult past few years for the Elks,” Lynds said. “Our goal is to change the culture and the attitude around the team. We want to make sure the players take pride in every aspect of being an Elk. Working hard in practice in preparing for games, how they conduct themselves on and off the ice, we want to get back on the road to winning and respectability.”
Tuesday night saw the Elks open training camp at the Colchester Legion Stadium. Workouts were scheduled for both Wednesday and Thursday with the Nova Scotia Hockey League’s Early Bird Tournament taking place at the East Hants Sportsplex Sept. 13-15.
Looking at player personal, recent trades have brought Chad Tucker and Liam Giffin back to the Elks. Most of Jeff Hazelton’s graduating CEC high school players are in training camp. Promising players such as Luke Barter, Jacob Deveau, Ryan MacKenzie, Connor Miller and Cole Fielding are being counted on.
“These guys, along with the most talented local players to come along in Colchester County in years, Degroot, MacLeod, Haight, Atwater, McAndrew and MacDonald – there are many fine young hockey players to watch for. I just wish my dad (Gordie Lynds) was here to watch some of these young men play, he’d likely be giving some pointers.”
I reminded Phil, his father would probably be proudly wearing a North River Aces sweater, as he starred for the Truro District Hockey League team for many years.
The Brookfield Elks will introduce a new game time at the Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex this season, as home games will be played Saturdays at 4 p.m.
Lyle Carter’s sports column appears weekly in the Truro News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 902 673-2857.