Grads, Rangers hope to improve after first round exits in 2009
By Fred Sherwin
Grads hopeful Fabian Walsh tries to jum past a Gloucester Rangers defender
during pre-season action at the Bob MacQuarrie Recreation Centre on Monday.
vastly different records last year, the Cumberland Grads and the Gloucester
Rangers find themselves in very similar positions heading into the 2009-2010
They both have
huge holes to fill up front and they both have a new face behind the bench.
new head coach and general manager is Paul Flindall who spent the past two
seasons as Mark Gradys assistant.
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 teams 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.
and the teams 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 Mallettes
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
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.
thats 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.
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.
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.
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."
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,
p.m., Sept. 2)
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