Season about experience for young Flyers
Despite early struggles, coach sees team coming around
Replacing a large number of players is tough for any team, especially when that team is replacing several important pieces.
It’s a learning process, and it’s something the Trinity Placentia Junior Flyers are experiencing early on in their St. John’s Junior Hockey League season.
The Flyers (1-13) lost a cadre of players either to aging out or to work commitments, and coach Eugene Hutchings has needed to roll in as many as 12 new players into his lineup.
These 12 players have included leading scorers Jeremy Nicholas, Paul Hutchings and Darrin Wilkins, along with defenceman Cody MacNamara and goaltender Matthew Power.
“It’s hard to replace that many hockey players,” said Hutchings.
It means assimilating a dozen or so new bodies into the offense, and learning the system. Where the team would not have taken as much getting to know each other, now the early season is about learning how the new teammates play, where they like to receive the puck and vice versa.
It is because of this that Hutchings has classified this as a “rebuilding year” for the club that went to the league semifinals last season.
The Flyers started the season dropping five of its first six games, with its only win so far a 6-4 victory over the Celtics on Oct. 27.
In the midst of working new players into the lineup, the Flyers have also dealt with a number of injuries. However, Hutchings has seen things start to come around. The team had been playing a better hockey as of late.
“I see us improving every game,” said Hutchings.
With the Flyers
playing better hockey as of late, the team has set a goal for the rest of the season. Hutchings said he would like to see them get back to the .500 mark.
“After Christmas, I can see us turning around a little bit and improving,” he said.
The Flyers are led by Placentia native Ryan Whittle, who has 11 points. Shouldering the scoring load has not fallen all on Whittle. There are more than a dozen players who have each contributed for the team.
Hutchings said he has been impressed with the work put in by his forwards in the early season.
“Every time they go on the ice, I see them getting better.”
Hutchings said there have been games where the Flyers have been leading heading into the third period, only to see his squad lose the lead.
Down four bodies due to injuries, the Flyers have been forced to play short handed in some games.
“We just run out of legs,” the coach said.
However, there is a silver lining. The experience his young players are getting in these situations will only help them in the future.
“I think we’ll be OK.”
Trinity Placentia Junior Flyers goaltender Cody Hann makes this save on CBN Junior Stars forward Allan Dawe in provincial junior hockey league action at the Bay Arena in Bay Roberts on Nov. 1 in this Compass file photo.