SUDBURY, Ont. – Working in partnership with its 12-member clubs, the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League is piecing together its annual team-by-team preseason previews heading into the 2018-19 campaign.
In back-to-back years, the Blind River Beavers set franchise records for wins in a single season with 32 won in 2016-17 when they went on a run all the way to the NOJHL final and 33 triumphs this past season.
Those 55 combined victories has surpassed the 53 Blind River registered in total over the five previous campaigns.
With the season rapidly approaching, the NOJHL teamed up with Beavers’ head coach and GM Kyle Brick, the main architect in reversing and improving the club’s fortunes, to put together this second of 12 league preseason Q&A sessions:
THE NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2018-19 season?
KYLE BRICK: I really think its an open slate for us. We have had to do a major rebuild with only four returning players. The goal always remains the same though and that’s to win a championship.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on what you’ve seen early on and what you expect to see in future skates and games.
K.B.: Well we’re just getting going with our main camp, but I have done a lot of research and watched a lot of tape on our newly recruited players and it’s promising.
NOJHL: Who among your returnees is someone you expect big things from?
K.B.: I expect our captain Caleb Serre to really have a good year. I believe he has potential to be a Top 3 player in this league. He leads on and off the ice and has the ability to make this team do great things.
NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?
K.B.: I am excited about Brendan Young, who we acquired from the Yarmouth Jr. A Mariners (MHL). He’s a player with vision and skill that we see doing very well in this league. Yound has close to 100 games of Jr. A experience and had 11 goals and 14 assists with the Mariners last season. We were also able to sign two 16-year-olds. One, an Ottawa 67s pick, in Ethan Graham and an Erie Otters draft in Justin Mauro. Graham played AAA minor midget in Mississauga last season and had 18 points, including six goals, in his league. As for Mauro he was close to a point-per-game in minor midget in Sault Ste. Marie. Both guys played in the OHL Cup and Mauro was also on Team NOHA at the OHL Gold Cup.
NOJHL: What are you looking to build upon from last season?
K.B.: Obviously we want to go deeper into the playoffs. I think we could call both of our last two years a success. We just want to keep getting better and continue building our program here in Blind River.
NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season and beyond?
K.B.: We want to have a good start in our division. If you go on a slide it makes it really difficult to climb your way back in the standings. We need to stay consistent and make sure we’re regularly winning divisional games.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on being selected to coach the Team NOHA U-16 program and how much will it differ from coaching the Beavers?
K.B.: I am excited about this opportunity with Team NOHA. I don’t think it will be much different. These players are in their draft year and have lots to prove, which makes it very easy to coach them. I think its going to be a great experience.
NOJHL: Any closing comments you’d like to provide?
K.B.: Lets drop the puck……