The new-look Nanaimo Buccaneers are about to hop onto the ice for a new season in the VIJHL.
The city’s junior B hockey club opens the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League season this Thursday, Sept. 5, at the Nanaimo Ice Centre.
The Bucs began a transition to a new era last season, when Clayton Robinson bought the team. Now, that transition continues, as Robinson himself will take charge as the new coach and general manager of the team.
“It wasn’t necessarily the plan, it was just the way it worked out,” said Robinson, who added that he interviewed various candidates but didn’t find quite the right fit.
Robinson has coached several years in minor hockey, including at the midget AAA level, and said his new roles with the Bucs have been a lot of fun.
“The summer was busy, we had a lot of moves to make, a lot of things to do, but I’ve got some great help here,” he said.
The Bucs won two of their three exhibition games, with their loss coming in a shootout at the end of the VIJHL’s new seven-minute three-on-three overtime format. Robinson said he’s been happy with the progression through the pre-season considering it’s a new group and some players have been away at junior A camps.
“We’ve still got lots to learn and we’re doing lots of video and just teaching right now,” he said. “We’re trying to keep things pretty simple, not clogging their minds up too much, just do the simple things right and then we’ll build on that as we go.”
Good junior B hockey exhibition game tonight at the NIC; the Nanaimo Buccaneers fell 5-4 to the Oceanside Generals in a shootout. Look for lots of junior hockey news on our website this week… #Nanaimo #Buccaneers pic.twitter.com/GOihtlfw6n
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) September 2, 2019
On the forward lines, Dylan Devers and Dylan Tonks are expected to be key scorers this year, and veteran Brendan Rogers will also be a leader and offensive threat. Newcomers Connor Stephenson and Nico Kane are two other skilled forwards to watch.
“I think we’ll be deep, four lines that can all play and we’ve got some grit, too,” Robinson said.
The defence will be led by veteran two-way guy Dylan Hartl. Erik Hanus will be “a force” on the blueline, the coach said, and Evan Pattison, returning from injury, will also take on important minutes. Zachary Fulton will add size and toughness.
In the crease, the Buccaneers will go with the goalie tandem of Spencer Deakin and Austin Dendl.
GAME ON … The Bucs face the Oceanside General on Thursday, Sept. 5, at 7:15 p.m. at the NIC. For ticket information, visit http://nanaimobuccaneers.ca.