MIDLAND – In his first season behind the bench for the Midland Flyers, head coach Keith Cyr has only a few veteran players on whom he can rely.
But the team’s youth, speed and willingness to learn are attributes that could take them far this Junior C season, he suggested.
“We knew going in that we were going to be a young team,” said Cyr, noting this will allow him to implement the system he wants to employ. “We have a different approach this year. It’s a team mentality. Everybody’s accountable.
“That means discipline, blocking shots, staying in position – just doing all the right things for your teammates.”
Gerry Asselin, president and general manager of the Provincial Junior Hockey League (PJHL) club, said local talent has become increasingly important to the Flyers. No fewer than 17 skaters on the roster, including all eight affiliate players, are Midland natives.
“We’re the only team in the league that’s gone with a club system the last couple of years, which means we go to our local teams (for call-ups),” he said. “We’ve got lots of good kids on the (Midland Centennials) midget team and we want to use those kids.”
With regard to the current roster, key players to watch include overagers Jon Goldsworthy on defence and Francesco Corona at forward, as well as third-year goaltender Jake Norton.
Cyr said Norton will play the bulk of games this year, backed up by Midland native Derek Haourt.
“Norts is probably going to play about 90 per cent of the games,” he said. “We’re old school – if you’ve got one goalie, you’ve got to keep him in tune.”
Cyr acknowledged his coaching style tends to make goalies happy, as he wants to limit opponents’ shots on goal to about 20-25 per game.
“It starts in our end,” he said. “We’re either going to win or lose 3-2.”
With the exception of two lopsided wins and a blowout loss, the Flyers have stuck to that script so far, going 3-3 to sit fourth in the Carruthers Division of the PJHL’s North Conference.
Cyr predicted the Alliston Hornets and Stayner Siskins will be the teams to beat this season. Sure enough, all three of Midland’s losses have come against those two teams.
Asselin said he figures the Flyers should finish somewhere around fourth or fifth in the regular season.
“If we’re middle of the pack and can prepare ourselves for the playoffs, then there’s no limit to what we can do.”
Midland’s upcoming schedule includes a home game Friday at 8 p.m. against the Schomberg Cougars, followed by a road game Saturday versus the Orillia Terriers.
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