Herd men­tal­ity

Truro Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - Lyle carter Lyle Carter’s sports col­umn ap­pears satur­days in the truro Daily News. If you have a story idea, con­tact him at 902-673-2857.

With a new coach at the helm, the Brook­field Elks have kicked off their 2017-18 hockey sea­son with a re­newed sense of fo­cus and op­ti­mism.

Shane Ro­bar be­comes the third coach in three sea­sons to guide the Brook­field Elks of the Nova Sco­tia Ju­nior Hockey League. Fol­low­ing Kevin Au­coin and Pa­trick Ste­wart be­hind the Elks bench, Ro­bar will be as­sisted by Craig Carter and Ernie McNea.

The coach­ing staff put the Elks through an up­beat prac­tice Thurs­day night at Colch­ester Le­gion Sta­dium.

“The big­gest fo­cus this year is chang­ing the cul­ture so that fo­cus is at the fore­front of ev­ery­thing we do,” Ro­bar said. “We’re go­ing to hold up-tempo prac­tices and the big goal for this hockey club is to make the play­offs. We have named Matt More­field as cap­tain. Matt brings a com­pet­i­tive mind­set to the rink ev­ery night and gives 120 per cent ev­ery game. Matt is the kind of guy you want lead­ing your team.”

The Elks have played one reg­u­lar sea­son game to date this sea­son, fall­ing to East Hants Pen­guins 5-4 in over­time at the East Hants Sport­splex. Next week has Brook­field on the road Mon­day night play­ing against Sackville Blaz­ers. Thurs­day night the same two clubs meet at the Sport­splex in Brook­field.

The Elks home opener will dis­play the ab­sence of Aaron Man­tle and Matt Jones, last sea­son’s goal­tenders.

“We have two young goal­tenders who have a lot of prom­ise,” Ro­bar ad­vised.

“Tyler Howe played ju­nior C last year and Mitchell Cum­mer is com­ing off a good sea­son. These goal­tenders will gain con­fi­dence the more they play, they’ll re­ceive a lot of sup­port from ev­ery­one on the team.”

Ro­bar, an Eastern Pas­sage na­tive, played four sea­sons on de­fence in the Mar­itime Ju­nior

Hockey League with Amherst Ram­blers and Bridge­wa­ter Lum­ber­jacks.

He was an as­sis­tant coach last sea­son to Steve Crow­ell with Dart­mouth Steele Sub­aru and in 2015-16 he was as­sis­tant coach with New­bridge Academy Se­na­tors in ma­jor ban­tam. Prior to that, he was in ju­nior A ranks as an as­sis­tant coach with Bridge­wa­ter Lum­ber­jacks.

More­field, a right-winger, put up good num­bers for the Elks last sea­son fir­ing 12 goals and record­ing 13 as­sists. A na­tive of Porter’s Lake, the 20-year-old is happy to be wear­ing the ‘C’ for his team.

“I’ve looked up to sev­eral for­mer cap­tains I played with along the way – it’s kind of nice when you have 16- and 17-year-olds look­ing up to you.

“I’m glad to be cap­tain of this Elks hockey team. I want to give back, it’ll be nice to be able to work with the young play­ers.”

The third year Saint Mary’s Univer­sity fi­nance stu­dent touched on the team’s home opener.

“I had a few home rinks over

the years but there’s some­thing re­ally spe­cial about the Brook­field rink. We’re look­ing for­ward to get­ting back in our team’s big dress­ing room and we’re ex­cited as we look for­ward to play­ing be­fore the home fans next Thurs­day night.”

De­fence­man Liam Gif­fen re­joins the Elks af­ter an out­stand­ing sea­son with Kens­ing­ton Vipers of the Is­land Ju­nior Hockey League. Af­ter a first-place fin­ish, the Vipers lost out in seven games in the league fi­nals to the Western Red­wings for the is­land ju­nior B ti­tle. Gif­fen played with the Elks in 2015-16 and 2014-15.

“It’s go­ing to be nice play­ing again with a num­ber of guys I played with back as early as ban­tam,” Gif­fen, 19, who grew up in Cold­stream, said.

“It’s also great to be back play­ing with play­ers I started my ju­nior ca­reer with. This year’s team has some po­ten­tial for sure; we have a real good foun­da­tion, when the chem­istry comes to­gether we’ll make some noise.”

An all-around ath­lete, Gif­fen

played left-field with Nova Sco­tia’s U-21 team at the Canada Games in Win­nipeg this past sum­mer.

Cae­len Blaikie, solid at five­foot-10 and 185 pounds, plays cen­tre and is re­turn­ing to the Elks for his sec­ond sea­son fol­low­ing an out­stand­ing train­ing camp with the ju­nior A Truro Bearcats.

Blaikie, who had 10 goals and 13 as­sists last sea­son, is happy that sev­eral top play­ers are re­turn­ing.

“A num­ber of us have played to­gether over the years,” Blaikie, 19, of Truro, said. “We’re fa­mil­iar with each other, which is good. We’re def­i­nitely aim­ing to make the play­offs, this has been a dis­ap­point­ing area the past few sea­sons. This year, I think we fi­nally have the team to be a con­tender, we want to be the kind of team that can make a se­ri­ous play­off run.”

Mem­bers of the 2017-18 Brook­field Elks ju­nior B hockey club are, from left, Matt More­field, Liam Gif­fen, Cae­len Blaikie and coach Shane Ro­bar.

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