Welcome to Quick Shift, which provides a preview of each of the 20 Kootenay International Junior Hockey League teams, with insights from their respective general manager/head coach heading into the regular season. Next is the Sicamous Eagles in the Doug Birks Division. The Eagles finished third in their division with a record of 26-15-2-1 and lost in the second round of the KIJHL Teck Cup playoffs to Revelstoke. Eagles Head Coach-GM Nick Deschenes answered questions about his team.
Did you have a good off-season of recruiting?
Last year we learned that being patient can pay dividends. As we continue to establish our program, recruiting continues into the early part of the season. We are happy with our core group and feel we have a solid foundation to build from. I would confidently say we are ahead of where we were last year, but the league continues to get better so it’s a moving target.
Everett Boutcher, Hayden Evans and Owen Dewitt were with us for practices last season and got into games. I think they have come in as first-year players with a slight advantage. They are really smart and will probably have an impact sooner than most.
Note: Boutcher and Dewitt each scored in their lone games, while Evans had two goals in two games.
What do you like about the group of players returning who will play a big part on your team?
We have a good returning group that will carry the successes from last year into this season. We’re not going to rely on any one player. What we’re expecting from returning players is they improved their skills and have taken last year as an experience and come better prepared physically and mentally so we can lean on them and they are going to show that they are going to elevate their game a notch.
We had a balanced attack last year and we feel like that is going to be our model again.
Note: Second-year Eagle Parker Fournier led the team with five points in four exhibition games. Fournier had 15 points in 32 games and Deschenes said Fournier has come in great shape and has looked good building chemistry with teammates.
Warren Roberts-Lee, who joined the Eagles from the Alberta Junior Hockey League last season, is returning after tryouts with AJHL teams in the summer. The Beaumont, Alberta product put up 16 points in 18 games, including scoring 10 goals. He added eight points in 11 KIJHL Teck Cup playoff games.
Tyler Burke is returning for his third season and the Vernon product led the Eagles with 33 points in 31 games for a 1.06 points-per-game average.
Why did you acquire Dylan Marshall and what do you like about him?
With both our goalies having moved on, we wanted an experienced goalie with a proven track record in our league.
Note: With the Nelson Leafs, Marshall won 15 of 20 games as a rookie and earned six playoff wins.
Gabe Bergeron is up and coming and is aggressive and uses his speed. He also possesses work ethic and a commitment to get better. It’s a matter of him adjusting from midget to junior and growing and getting adjusted to the game and shot pace.
What were some key areas of success achieved last season that the organization wants to build on?
We made strides in a lot of areas and it was a big team effort to roll out a new chapter. Redesigning our logo was the catalyst and we worked hard to deliver a better experience for players and to become more integrated in the community and it’s working. There will be a few more locals on our roster. Nothing great is built overnight and we hope to continue to improve on all aspects.