Navy Vets rekindling old glories

ERIC BENDER -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 11:54 AM ET

The Navy Vets of Woodstock are rebuilding the ship this year and hoisting banners on the masts to rekindle old glories.

"We're in our 40th year and we want to restore the pride of yesteryear," says Dave McLaren, the first-time general manager who brought Doug Salt of Woodstock on board as head coach from the Junior Development League Burford Bulldogs.

It's the second year in a row the franchise has tried to restore its winning mode with all new personnel virtually throughout the organization.

Throughout the season, the Navy Vets will hoist banners in honour of past championship teams and individual players who have gone on to successful hockey careers.

McLaren, who was assistant Navy Vets coach for several years before stepping down, said his goal is to "instill a good work ethic."

"I want them (the players) to take pride in the fact they are tugging on a junior jersey," he said.

McLaren, who is deeply involved in the Woodstock minor hockey organization, is agonizing over the Navy Vets' slow start. But that part of the club is a restoration project as well.

With just 10 returning players, the team sits at 6-9-2 for 14 points and fifth place in the six-team East Division of the Niagara Junior C Hockey League. Their goals for and against are 43-69.

"We're still trying to find our way," McLaren said.

He said the team needs to tighten up defensively and make good on their scoring chances.

"If we'd score some of our goals (chances), it would help," he said. In a 6-0 blanking by the Aylmer Spitfires, the Navy Vets outshot them.

And penalties have been a bane. In a 7-1 thumping by Norwich, five of the Merchants' goals came on the power play.

It hasn't helped that the Navy Vets played a six-game stretch on the road. But now they are back in the commodious confines of their international-size ice surface. Tonight, they host the New Hamburg Firebirds and tomorrow it's the Spitfires, both games at 7:45 p.m.

McLaren said fan support remains solid with attendance around 300 on average.

In goal, returnee Kris Yungblut has logged the bulk of the duty with newcomer Shawn Atthill of Thamesford, a Burford Bulldog last year, as backup. Both are 19.

On defence, Ian Kennedy returns as an over-ager and is captain. Brandon Schell returns to the blue-line for a third term along with Ian McLaren (out with a shoulder injury) and Dave Vanheeswyk.

Three rookie defenceman have captured positions. Brett Rudy, 18, from Kitchener midget AA, Andrew Hicks, 18, from Tillsonburg and Anthony Dolcetti, 16, of Ingersoll and the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs round out the defence.

Paul McIntyre is the overager in the forward corps and has returned with Geordon Fidler, Matt Smale, Justin Potruff and Brent Paton.

Six new forwards have come aboard: Brent Crawford, 18, of London; Shane Balcomb of Tillsonburg, who played in Junior Development in Port Dover; Mike Sherman, 18, from Ingersoll minor hockey; Kyle Greenside, 17, of London and worth watching; Jamie Davis, 18, of Tillsonburg and the Otterville midgets; and Cole Maher, 17, of Plattsville, who played in Burford.

Scoring lead a tie

Sarnia and St. Marys shooters dominate the top of the Western Junior B Hockey League scoring race. Winger Matt Parkes of the Sarnia Blast (22 goals, 18 assists) is co-leader just more than halfway through the schedule with Nathan Peacock of the St. Marys Lincolns (18-22).


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