Goalie Paul Janes is one of just four returning players on the Kings Mutual bantam Wildcats this season. The goal of new head coach John Verran is for the team to show steady improvement as the season goes along. (File)
By John DeCoste
The Kings Mutual Bantam Wildcats have picked their team, and after an up-and-down pre-season, they’ll open the 2013-2014 NSMBHL regular season with a pair of games this weekend.
Of the 17 players selected by head coach John Verran and assistants Dean Peach and Kevin Bennett, only four – goalie Paul Janes, defensemen Christopher Llewellyn and Patrick Howatt and forward Josh Foster – return from last year’s team.
Verran confirmed Sept. 5 that there are six new players – four forwards, one defenseman and one goalie. The remaining skaters are “second-year players who played either Bantam A or AA” last season.
The Kings Mutual pre-season included a win over Halifax “before the teams were chosen,” a close loss to Dartmouth, a tie with Cole Harbour and two fairly convincing losses to the Bubba Rays Gulls who project to be one of the league’s better teams.
“It’s been a mixed review,” Verran said, adding that having only four returning players “makes it a bit more challenging.”
Overall, the Wildcats “will be young and relatively inexperienced,” he said.
“(I’m) very happy with the players we’ve picked. They seem positive, eager to learn, and the work ethic is strong,” he said.
“Our job will be to teach them the systems we want them to play – like we did last year with the Midgets – and build as the season goes on.”
With that goal in mind, Verran is pleased to have “lots of coaching experience” in his assistants, Peach and Bennett.
“The kids will hopefully be well-taught,” he said.
While acknowledging the team is off to a bit of a slow start, he said their goal is to be a better team the second half of the season than in the first half.
Verran doesn’t see the roster he has assembled as scoring a lot of goals, at least not to begin with. For that reason, “team defence and team effort are likely to be the keys to success,” he said.
The regular season opener will be held Sept. 14 against Bubba Rays Gulls, followed by the home opener Sept. 15 at 2:15 p.m. at the Kings Mutual Century Centre in Berwick.
The 2013-2014 Kings Mutual Bantam Wildcats:
Goalies – Paul Janes, Oliver Troop
Defensemen – Christopher Llewellyn, Patrick Howatt, Griffin Abbott, Patrick Allen, Dawson MacPhail, Austin Woodland
Forwards – Jonah Vidito, Josh Foster, James Hunter, Nick Gerhardt, Zachary Forsythe, Hunter Woodland, Liam Parker, Doug Kosciukiewich, Jakob McQuillan.