NEW GLASGOW – It’s no secret that this season the Weeks Crushers hope to make a championship run – not just for the Kent Cup, but the Fred Page Cup and hopefully a national championship.
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
The Pictou County Weeks Crushers have their home opener Thursday night against the Yarmouth Mariners. Puck drop is at 7 p.m.
With 14 returning players the Crushers plan to build towards this season began three years ago according to head coach and general manger Jason Malone. He said the executive and coaching staff sit down each at the beginning and end of each year to determine where the organization is going.
“We have a very good understanding of our list and where it’s at,” he said. “It doesn’t take the off-season to realize that you could potentially have a good lineup returning. We built for this season because we knew we were moving into a new facility and we knew that the players on our list would be maturing at the right time. Naturally, three years ago we had this plan in place and stuck to it.
“It wasn’t so much this off-season, it was three years ago when we put our plan in place, took a look at our list and knew our young kids three years ago would be maturing this season and have the opportunity to go out as champions this season.”
Malone said the biggest difference fans should notice from the team this season compared to last is experience. He said they experienced a lot of ups and downs last year, including a seven-game losing streak. He believes last year taught the players a lot.
“I think it’s a learning curve for our guys and hopefully they took the right things from last season,” said Malone. “We all have a sour taste in our mouths from how the season ended and hopefully our fans see a little bit of experience shining through our core guys this year.”
He said over the off-season they didn’t necessarily go looking for major ways to improve their roster, but find ways to get the players they had as prepared as possible for this season by giving them a proper training plan.
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“I’ve been pretty impressed with how everything came together,” said Malone. “Obviously it’s not going to be perfect and just because we’re a year older doesn’t mean we’re that much better, but it is a good core group of guys and we just wanted to get into the season and see where we stood so we can really start to make the improvements that we have to.
“Obviously we went out and signed David Stephens who was a good acquisition for our team and he’s come in and solidified himself on our first line. Other than that I think it was just making sure that our guys had theright mind set and attitude coming into this year.”
The team building towards this year also fell on the 10th anniversary of the club in Pictou County. Over that time the team has lost two MHL finals and won the Fred Page Cup once. Malone said he was proud to be part of the organization and said he couldn’t say enough about what the Weeks family has done for not only the junior A squad, but hockey the county.
“It’s such a great organization and people around here are so proud of it,” he said. “I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it. Coming from P.E.I. I truly feel at home here. It’s great to come to the rink and be happy, seeing the fans wanting to know about your team. That’s all through hard work from a lot of different people in the background from year one to now.”
He added that throughout the season the club will celebrate their 10th anniversary in various ways, which will be announced as they near the events.
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris