BROOKFIELD – A well-known and loved hockey name in Brookfield is taking over the community’s junior B hockey team.
Hughie Matheson was recently named head coach of the Brookfield Elks after the team sent Kevin Harvey packing for guiding the club to a 12-9-1-1 record.
“I’m just going to try to instill my style of hockey on them,” Matheson, a 73-year-old Brookfield resident said. “I like to have everybody skating.”
Matheson boasts an impressive, albeit dated, coaching resume which includes leading the Truro Bearcats to seven provincial junior titles in nine seasons in the 1970s. He also coached Nova Scotia to a pair of Canada Games silver medals in hockey in 1975 and 1979 and was at the helm of the Elks senior men’s softball team which won a national title in 1980.
He was inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame in 2004.
The Elks stumbled out of the gate to a 1-5 start this season. However, the team turned things around and used an 11-4-1-1 run to mount a charge up the Fred Fox Division standings and put themselves well into playoff contention.
The charge was aided by a deal the Elks made to acquire forwards Geoff Burke, Liam Carr and Devon Muir from the Cumberland County Blues on Nov. 26. The Elks were 6-6-1-1 at the time.
But an 8-2 drubbing from the Valley Maple Leafs on Jan. 8 seems to be what prompted general manager Joel Dawe to relieve Harvey of his duties. It was his last game behind the Brookfield bench.
“We made some moves to make this our year,” Dawe said. “And the team we assembled, we didn’t think we were reaching our full potential. We just weren’t happy with the results. We expected more.”
The Elks are 2-0 under Matheson. Brookfield hosts the Pictou County Scotians tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Don Henderson Memorial Sportsplex.
Although Harvey said he feels the team was playing well, he understands Dawe’s decision.
“That was through my eyes but that’s part of the game and if management isn’t getting what it expects then they have the right to make that decision,” he said.
Harvey said he holds no hard feelings toward the club and will be pulling for his former players for the rest of the season as he contemplates his options.
“I hope they continue on and accomplish the goals we set out as a team at the beginning of the year.”
Although he hasn’t coached a hockey team since the 1979 Canada Games, Matheson said he doesn’t feel he’ll be preaching outdated techniques to his players.
“The only difference I see is that instead of showing them I’ll have to tell them,” he said. “The game hasn’t changed that much in my opinion. It’s still played on a sheet of ice.”
Dawe said he was also confident in his decision.
“He’s arguably the best junior coach in Nova Scotia history,” he said. “He has a simple philosophy; work hard and be accountable. He gets the most out of his players.”