COACH’S RECAP #1- A new era in Dukes land

Each month, Dukes broadcaster/writer Brock Ormond chats with the team’s head coach Kent Lewis on the slate of games from the month that was and do a sneak preview of what is to come on the ice for the month ahead.

Rebuilding mode

We kind of got off to a surreal start, with having a brand-new team.

We have had good prep times, and good practice time. We brought in a good mix of guys, and I think that showed early.

We played a ton of hockey, with not a lot of practice time, in which was needed to really get a team used to one another, and not just each other, but it coaches new systems and everything else.

It’s been 11 games of putting a staff together as well and adding a coaching staff. We’re really happy to have Brian Mackenzie (former Haliburton County Huskies assistant coach and OHL Plymouth Whalers scout) on board and also looking to announce possibly another addition here soon to the coaching staff.

It’s been a lot of fun, and we get a good group of kids that have stumbled lately, but sometimes you need those stumbles to really correct things.

What does Brian McKenzie bring to the table?

I think what helps is we’re bringing in an older guy. I’m not going to say too much older because he’s only about a couple of weeks behind me (in age), but someone familiar with the league.

I’ve been familiar with the league because I brought a lot of really good players out west, but not to the degree of having to know the league to bring in an entire club.

Obviously, Brian’s experience is going to help. He’s really good with the kids, he’s just got a real good positive demeanor about him and upbeat energy. He’s been a good addition.

Veteran players making return to Wellington

They’ve all done a good job, but I think we’ve had a lot of new players that also have shown a lot of good leadership and spread out through the room.

We do have a mature group and we’re going to really depend on that, because really, it’s kind of like a TV movie. (When I) stepped into this (team) towards the end of June, there was really nobody outside of Connor Hunt.

“It’s been a unique story and we just really got to rally around that as something that can inspire us to have a real fun year and give a real loyal fan group something they can be proud of, because they got put through the wringer too with what happened.

We want to make sure that they can have some have some enjoyment coming to Lehigh Arena.

How new players have developed

I think there have been a lot of kids (who have stood out), but one kid in particular Cory Jewett not only logs a lot of minutes, but important minutes, whether it’d be on the penalty kill or power play, and now he’s come in and obviously he’s wearing a letter as well, which we’ve distributed amongst six guys.

It has been a lot of kids getting an opportunity to play Jr. A for the first time that that maybe have been, not given a good look. It’s kind of like Vegas (Golden Knights) a couple of years ago, you give all these guys an opportunity, and some have relished in it, and some have been a little slow to relish in it, but it’s great opportunity for them.

It’s really been good here this week just to get these practices in next week and our schedule gets a little bit normal, although we play three-in-three coming up here this weekend. It’s been a good group and like I said, this is really looking forward to just getting our hands on it and just getting into practice time so we can get better.

On Three-in-Three weekend

With Instat, we can go in and see but there’s so many predictable things, everybody runs a 1-3-1 (defensive strategy), everybody’s got one or two good lines, everybody’s got a couple of defenseman that like to go (into the rush). just really have to get our game down.

We expect nine hard periods. It’s going to be a real tough weekend, and we’re going to have to be a heck of a lot better than we’ve been the last three, I can tell you that.