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Sports Scene:Lynds leading Rhinos in right direction

For more than 20 years now, Phil Lynds has been coaching local hockey players. Approximately 10 seasons ago, Lynds and Brad Higgins began coaching AAA bantam hockey together.

Aaron Crocker breaks out of his own end during Friday’s home game against the Spryfield Attack. Crocker would score the game-tying goal in the third to force overtime, where he scored the winner.

“Ed Hencher and John Currie came on board eight seasons back,” Lynds, of East Mountain, said. “These are good hockey guys. We kind of sit down and have like a roundtable discussion sort of thing whether it be about player selection or game strategy.”

Lynd’s club, the MU Rhino Renovations Rhinos, and the Spryfield Attack were deadlocked at one game apiece in the best-of-seven Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League championship series with the third game scheduled last night. Game 4 will be played Sunday night in Spryfield.

Lynds is pleased to have several players with this year’s team who played for him back in AAA minor midget.

“It’s kind of nice to see a number of Colchester County boys who’ve gone off to university, returning and playing for us. These players have made big travel commitments and I believe part of it is they enjoy playing for our coaching staff.”

Hencher, the Rhinos trainer and the liaison between the players and the head coach, has great respect for Lynds.

“Working alongside Phil for a number of years has been great,” he said. “This is a great series we have going against Spryfield. I’m not surprised that both of the first two games had to be decided in overtime. Spryfield and our club are very close.”

Forward Aaron Crocker, who played for the Amherst Colts last year, had a big offensive season with the Rhinos and was named a league all-star. Crocker was also a big contributor for Lynd’s team in 2010-11 when they won the New Brunswick and Nova Scotia AAA minor midget hockey championships. The team also won a bronze medal at Atlantics in Clarenville, NL.

“That big season back in midget is something I’ll never forget,” Crocker, 21, of Truro, said. “There are seven or eight players from that club playing with us this year. It’s just like we’re finishing up where we left off.”

Crocker feels the Rhinos are in the right frame of mind.

“We realize discipline is going to be very important the rest of the way. The team that can stay out of the penalty box may turn out to be the winner.”

Goaltender Matt Caron, a teammate of Crocker’s last season with Amherst, has an interesting background that includes playing four seasons in Moncton with Mathieu-Martin High School. This led to tryouts with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and Amherst of the Maritime Hockey League.

“I’m pretty much freezing everything,” Caron, 21, a native of Edmundston, N.B., said. “I want to slow the pace down against Spryfield. They are a team that play better with momentum.”

Defenceman Brendan Turner, also named to the league’s first all-star team, is in his second season with the Rhinos.

“We’re going to have to pick up the pace to win the championship,” Turner, 19, of Brookfield, said. “We’re going to have to hit and play the body more to try to slow Spryfield down.”

Turner’s brother, Dalton, is also a Rhinos defenceman.

Forward Ben Lynds played his minor hockey in the Truro & Area Minor Hockey Association before spending three seasons playing AAA minor midget for his uncle Phil. This is his second season with the junior C Rhinos.

“It’s been a great experience,” Ben, 20, of Valley, told me. “Playing these years for my uncle has been almost bittersweet. There have been some good times and some bad times.”

This final series finds the teams very close, Ben said.

“The overtime games have been something. To date, I don’t think we‘ve played our best hockey. For our team, I really believe the best is yet to come.”


Note: Lyle Carter’s sports column appears Saturdays in the Truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, contact him at 673-2857.

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