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CJHL Hockey
Grads, Rangers hope to improve after first round exits in 2009
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Cumberland Grads hopeful Fabian Walsh tries to jum past a Gloucester Rangers defender during pre-season action at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Centre on Monday. Fred Sherwin/Photo


Despite having vastly different records last year, the Cumberland Grads and the Gloucester Rangers find themselves in very similar positions heading into the 2009-2010 season.

They both have huge holes to fill up front and they both have a new face behind the bench.

The Grads’ new head coach and general manager is Paul Flindall who spent the past two seasons as Mark Grady’s assistant.

Flindall was handed the top job after Grady accepted an assistant coach position with the Ottawa 67s.

The Rangers transition of power is a lot more mysterious. Up until two weeks ago, Vince Mallette was the team’s head coach. After being brought in to help rebuild the club, the former head coach of the Peterborough Petes led the Rangers to their first playoff appearance in three years.

Apparently, Mallette and the team’s owner and general manager Paul Jennings had a disagreement over the direction the team was heading prior to the start of training camp. The end result is that Mallette is out and Rick Dorval is in.

Dorval was Mallette’s assistant last season. Before that he was the head coach of the Ottawa 67s AAA minor bantam team. He was as surprised as anyone when he was asked by Jennings to take over as head coach.

“I was kind of shocked at first,” says Dorval, who served as acting head coach for 12 games last year when Mallette was unable to travel with the team.

“I think that’s one of the things that helped me a lot. We were .500 during those games and I gained a lot of confidence both in myself and from the players,” says Dorval.

The Rangers have a solid corps of returning veterans including last year's leading scorer Andrew Creppin, Sean Blunden, Nick Vidoni and Francis Dupuis. Dorval is also expecting big things from 20-year-old newcomer Zach Lokey who scored 45 goals playing Junior B hockey in New York last year.

"I think our key attribute is going to be our depth. We have three solid lines up front and Dupuis will be a key component in net," says Dorval.

While Flindall bristles at the suggestion the Grads are in a rebuilding year, the fact of the matter is that the team has lost four of their top six offensive players from last season.

David Pacan has accepted a scholarship to play at the University of Vermont and Marc-Andre Labelle, Chris Murphy and Jeffrey Clarke have all graduated from the league.

The hope is that returnees Mitch Gallant, Mathieu Ouellette, Brent Bisdee and Brock Plouffe will fill the void both on the scoresheet and in the dressing room. Flindall is also expecting a lot from returning veteran Daniel Goyette who played with the Orangeville Crush last season while going to school near Toronto.

"He's a guy that brings a lot of leadsership to the team and a lot of toughness and character," says Flindall. "When you have a guy like that the guys around him play a lot tougher."

Defensively the team is solid with veterans Daniel Sauve and Michael Nooyen once again manning the blueline and Adam Laderoute between the pipes.

They also have a pair of top notch rookies in Fabian Walsh and Kevin Tansey who are expected to contribute right away.

Walsh saw action in a handful of games last year after being drafted in 2008, and Tansey was protected by the team in the first round of this year's draft.

The Grads failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs for the second year in a row after finishing in first place in their division. This year, thanks to realignment, they will be in touigh against perennial CJHL powerhouses Nepean and Pembroke. The division is rounded out by Hawkesbury, Ottawa, and Gloucester.

(Updated 9:30 p.m., Sept. 2)

 

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