Win­ning with Winch­ester

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - CON­NOR MCNAIR

Brockville Braves head coach Jesse Winch­ester was al­ways a hard work­ing player, a cen­tre a coach could count on con­sis­tently to give his all ev­ery game.

The for­mer NHL for­ward’s high ef­fort, hard work­ing de­meanour has car­ried over into his own coach­ing style and has re­sulted in the Braves hold­ing onto sec­ond place in the CCHL Robin­son Di­vi­sion. The Braves sit only behind the pow­er­house Car­leton Place Cana­di­ans, the No. 1 ranked Cana­dian Ju­nior Hockey League team.

Through the Braves and the club’s hockey academy, Winch­ester has in­stilled in his players the keys to suc­cess in hockey are ef­fort and de­ter­mi­na­tion to im­prove each and ev­ery time they step on the ice.

“Jesse has been where ev­ery­one wants to go, so it’s much eas­ier to re­ally open your ears and lis­ten to him. He re­spects and loves the game more than any­one I have ever seen and it rubs off on all of us players in the or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said An­drew Jarvis, cap­tain of the Braves and Car­leton Univer­sity com­mit.

Jarvis has been with Brockville since the 2013-2014 sea­son where he played as a 16-year-old. The vet­eran de­fence­man has had a dif­fer­ent coach in each of his five sea­sons with the Braves.

“The younger guys are luck­ing out with hav­ing a coach like this early in their ca­reer,” Jarvis said.

The love for the game Winch­ester dis­plays was ap­par­ent to Braves coowner and general man­ager Dustin Traylen when he was search­ing for the right man to lead the Braves this sea­son and de­velop players in its hockey academy, which ranges from col­lege-ready players to high school fresh­men.

“What drew me to Jesse was his level of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and love for the game of hockey. His love is pal­pa­ble. He is hon­est with him­self and hon­est with his players,” Traylen said. “The Braves fran­chise and the players are lucky to have him.”

Zach Matyasik, lead­ing scorer of the af­fil­i­at­ing Brockville Tikis, is one of the players in the hockey academy try­ing to get his game to the next level with the help of Winch­ester.

“Jesse’s coach­ing style has helped me re­al­ize the im­por­tance of good puck move­ment and main­tain­ing pos­ses­sion to make smarter plays,” the 18-year-old Syra­cuse na­tive said. “He preaches the im­por­tance of con­sis­tency, be­ing ready to go game in and game out. I’m cer­tain that Jesse’s coach­ing in the academy will help me reach Ju­nior A.”

When asked why he chose to be­gin his ju­nior coach­ing ca­reer in Brockville, Winch­ester said, “My wife and I are happy in this general area for the time be­ing, and the chance to coach in such a com­pet­i­tive ju­nior league was too good to pass up. I felt like my play­ing ca­reer ended a bit pre­ma­turely be­cause of in­jury, and this op­por­tu­nity al­lowed me to con­tinue my growth in the game, al­beit in a dif­fer­ent way while I still have the de­sire to im­prove.”

Winch­ester played for the Corn­wall Colts Ju­nior A team start­ing in 2001-02 and then moved on to Col­gate Univer­sity be­fore sign­ing with the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors in the NHL in 2007. He spent four sea­sons in Ot­tawa, one sea­son in Fin­land with the Helsinki Jokerit, and one sea­son in Florida with the Panthers. His play­ing ca­reer was cut short due to re­cur­ring con­cus­sion symp­toms.

Winch­ester and the Braves know there is plenty of hockey left to be played this sea­son with 28 games left on the sched­ule. Brockville is cur­rently rid­ing a five game win-streak, with the of­fense lead­ing the way. The team has scored four goals or more in each game dur­ing this hot stretch.

“We cur­rently have a great group of young men in our locker room, so our goal is two-fold: to con­tinue build­ing a cul­ture that re­al­izes how lucky we are to be involved in the game at a high level, and then to re­spect how hard it is to be good at the game ev­ery sin­gle day,” Winch­ester said. “For the most part we have em­braced the process and that is tes­ta­ment to the ef­fort that the boys put in ev­ery­day dur­ing prac­tice and games.”

Winch­ester was tight-lipped about what might be next for him. He told The Recorder and Times it’s dif­fi­cult to say what his fu­ture will hold but, “Right now we are tak­ing it day-by-day and en­joy­ing the process.”

For now, though, Winch­ester is a Brave. Just as the young coach is en­joy­ing the process, so are the Braves or­ga­ni­za­tion, its players, and the fans that come to the mad­house ev­ery Fri­day night.

The Braves (20-13-0-1) face off against the Grads (9-24-00) at 7:30 p.m. at the Brockville Me­mo­rial Cen­tre.


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