The Bucs are back.
The Nanaimo Buccaneers junior B hockey club takes the ice tonight (Sept. 8) for its home opener to start the 2016-17 Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season.
“We’ve got a young team, we’ve got a talented team as well and we’re starting to grasp some early concepts…” said Dan Lemmon, the team’s coach and general manager. “It’s an exciting time to be a coach and be able to pass on along a lot of information to these kids.”
A lot of veterans have graduated or moved on from the Buccaneers, but they have a core of returning players to guide the youngsters. With all the youth, there’s a lot of upside, Lemmon said.
“With the younger kids, I think you’ve got to give them a little bit more time and a little bit more leeway, but you also have to make sure that you’re letting them know when they make a mistake,” the coach said. “The kids are picking up things in practice and we’re getting better every day so far, so we’ve just got to stay on that trend.”
The Bucs bring back their top goal scorer from last season, Trent Bell. The winger finished fifth in the VIJHL with 30 goals in 2015-16 and has the speed and anticipation to create scoring opportunities out of thin air.
Chad Bell, who is the new team captain, plays a versatile game up front and Nolan Richardson will also provide leadership and scoring.
Dawson Heathcote nearly made a major junior roster this summer and has the ability to be successful and even dominant at the junior B level, Lemmon said. Playmaker and scorer Billy Walters and power forward Cole Broadhurst will be other key offensive contributors.
Lemmon said nearly every forward on the Bucs can score goals and said the fourth line will bring a lot of grit, too.
The Buccaneers’ defence corps will be led by vets Coleman Doney and Clayton Peace. Doney plays a rounded game and Julius Zhang and Dylan Hartl are other adept puck movers. Peace and newcomer Cale Cripps will be asked to play more of a shutdown role on defence. Big and strong D-men Seamus O’Toole and Jordan Robinson round out the corps, and Lemmon said with seven defencemen to start the season, it will create good competition for playing time.
The Bucs haven’t named a No. 1 goalie, and will go into the season with the tandem of John Hawthorne and Cedric LeSieur. LeSieur was a late addition to the roster but the Bucs have seen enough of Hawthorne to know he’s a hard worker and character guy. Both goalies are affiliated with junior A clubs and Lemmon said both guys are focused and determined to try to play their way up to the next level.
The Bucs host the Oceanside Generals on Thursday (Sept. 8) at 7:15 p.m. at the Nanaimo Ice Centre. For ticket information, visit http://buccaneers.vijhl.com. The Buccaneers also have a road game this weekend as they visit the Comox Valley Glacier Kings on Saturday.
Chad Bell has been named captain of the 2016-17 Nanaimo Buccaneers… pic.twitter.com/otto244OgJ
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) September 8, 2016