Sun, August 28th, 2011
Navy Vets looking in one direction as camp begins
By Cory Smith, Sentinel-Review
Coming off a season in which they tied a franchise low for wins, the Woodstock Navy Vets are looking in one direction this year.
"Last year wasn't our best season," assistant coach Ed Cook said. "There were some dark clouds that hung over the season … all we can do is go up."
More than 50 players are expected to hit the ice Monday night when the Junior C club's main camp opens at Southwood Arena. With the regular season less than three weeks away, it's important that players make an early impact in the camp's first week.
"I want to see some chemistry right away and a willingness to gel as a team," Cook said. "Returning guys know who they are, and some of our best recruits are our players who will bring a friend and guys they know. As we pare down the list, the sooner we can all be on the same page, the better for us and them. They can find their stride together."
Four players have been signed ahead of camp: Captain Devon Young, Derek Cowing, Andy Fallowfield and Brent Wallace.
Cowing returns for his second go-round after leading the Navy Vets in scoring during his rookie season. In 35 games, the Innerkip native scored 22 goals and added 18 assists. Ten of his team-leading goals came on the power play.
"I'm glad to have him back. He was our first signing," Cook said. "It'll be hard for a repeat performance because he's not an unknown now, (but) he knows where to go on the ice and make room for himself."
The Navy Vets lost Niagara West Rookie of the Year Chase Thornton, who signed with the Strathroy Rockets of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League. Thornton was arguably the team's most consistent player in 2010-11, scoring 17 goals and 17 assists in 31 games. He also added two shorthanded goals and two game-winning goals.
"We knew he was going to be a one-year player for us," Cook said. "The role of junior C hockey is to develop players so they can pursue (higher leagues)."
Goaltender Neil Pittock will also not return after moving away to attend Fleming College.
The team will be slightly older this season, with many second-year players expected to carry more responsibility both on and off the ice. Cook cited players like Cowing, Brynn Shultz and Kyle Robertson. The latter scored five goals and 12 assists last season and was named Most Sportsmanlike in the division after taking just three minor penalties in 34 games.
"That's the role we're looking at for a lot of these guys who can return and have one year (behind them) as 17 year olds," Cook said. "Now they've cut their teeth at the junior level we'll be leaning on them. They're not rookies anymore."
Woodstock made a couple of additions behind the bench. Steve Chesley brings a wealth of coaching experience in his return, while former Woodstock player Adam Wallace is fresh off his last season of junior hockey. Wallace is a two-time Memorial Cup champion with the Windsor Spitfires.
Woodstock Navy Vets 2011-12 training camp schedule:
Monday: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Tuesday: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Thursday: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Friday vs. Simcoe at 7:45 p.m.
Sunday in Simcoe at 7 Mp.m.
Friday, Sept. 9 vs. Paris at 7:45 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 10 at Paris at 7 p.m.