Crushers bench boss says series sweep by Bearcats wasn’t expected

Christopher Cameron
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NEW GLASGOW – It has been just over a week since the Weeks Crushers season ended with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Truro Bearcats – it still stings a little.

Weeks Crushers head coach Jason Malone, right, and Truro Bearcats head coach Shawn Evans shake hands after Game 4 of the Eastlink Division final on April 6. Truro defeated the Crushers in four straight games to advance to the MHL final. 

After losing the opening three games of the Eastlink Division final, Pictou County had their backs against the wall in a must-win situation in Game 4 on April 6. Tying the game in the third period they forced overtime, but it was all for not. Daniel Poliziani scored with 2:32 remaining in the first 10-minute overtime period to put the nail in the coffin.

“I felt like we played well in Game 3 and Game 4, but at the same time when you put yourself in that hole and you can’t come out with an effort and result in Game 3, you’re scrapping and clawing for anything positive at that point,” said Crushers head coach Jason Malone. “Unfortunately our group just wasn’t able to get it done.”

Pictou County’s goal this season was Kent Cup or bust, so to speak. With an experienced, returning roster and ten 20-year-olds, it doesn’t take a hockey expert to realize this was a big year for the junior A squad. This was a three-year building process meant to put the organization in a position to make a championship run.

Malone said it wasn’t pressure that led to the final results in the division final, although they did notice the effects it had on certain players.

“Pressure is an interesting thing,” he said. “Some people love it and other people can’t handle it. I think we saw the results of that this year, where some players thrived with it and others didn’t deal with it very well.”

Looking back on the season and trying to evaluate what went wrong, or where it went wrong, has been tough for the P.E.I. native. In his fourth season with the team he said both he and the organization were confident in the players they had in the lineup each night, but that when they doubted themselves slightly it didn’t go well.

“The mental side of the game is where we lacked this year and looking back we had such a great start to the season and the expectations were being met,” said Malone. “Once there was a little seed of doubt that was planted and we lost two or three games in a row it really seemed like it began to spiral and it’s tough to continue to say and preach the same things when you know you have a good hockey club and you’ve seen them perform at a high level.”

Further to his point about struggling to deal with doubts, Malone said they knew they would have to beat Truro to win their division and their game plan had to be executed perfectly for them to be successful.

“Again, when that seed was planted it seemed like it spun out of control and it goes to the coaching staff and the players in the room that it wasn’t dealt with properly and unfortunately I feel that was part of our season ending early.”

Another dynamic, which Malone understands to have been a major topic of discussion, was being able to only dress nine 20-year-olds per game while having 10 on their roster.

For most of the season Tyler Doyle was expected to be the odd man out, but in January was given an opportunity to step back into the lineup when David Stephens went down with a lower-body injury. It was when Doyle was out of the lineup that fans and team supporters tended to voice their displeasure with Malone and the coaching staff.

He missed 11 regular season games and all but one playoff game.

“It was extremely hard,” said Malone. “From outsiders looking in I don’t blame them (for being upset). I know what Tyler brings to the table and I know what he is capable of. It was also understood between us and the staff and the players that Tyler was our tenth 20-year-old. That was a result of a combination of things. You look at while we were coming down the stretch Tyler was in the lineup and the team wasn’t performing at a level that we were happy with, and Tyler was playing inconsistent hockey.”

This decision is something that Malone felt Doyle struggled with, as well as the coaching staff.

“People probably assume that was easy for us, but it definitely wasn’t,” he said. “The amount of sleep that I lost over decisions to keep Tyler out of the lineup was a lot, but at the same time we’re trying to do what was best for our club and the nine 20s we had in the lineup we felt were the best ones to give us a chance to win game in and game out.”

Dealing with backlash from upset fans over Doyle being out of the lineup and the team falling short of their goal hasn’t changed any future plans for Malone. He still has two years left on his contract with the Weeks Hockey Organization and expects to get right back to work preparing for next season.

He knows the Amherst Ramblers and Yarmouth Mariners both parted ways with their head coaches after their seasons ended, but hasn’t heard anything to make him think he would be in a similar boat.

When that seed (of doubt) was planted it seemed like it spun out of control and it goes to the coaching staff and the players in the room that it wasn’t dealt with properly and unfortunately I feel that was part of our season ending early. Jason Malone – Weeks Crushers head coach

“I can understand it, it’s a performance type of sport and you’re expected to get the results,” said Malone. “We didn’t get the results that we wanted this year and part of the blame goes on my shoulders and our staff’s shoulders. With that being said the organization has full confidence in myself and the staff that we brought in to ice a good product year in and year out.

“As it stands right now I know I have the confidence of our board and our organization and I’m going to continue to do my job until I’m told otherwise.”

Before he does get 100 per cent focused on draft preparations he said he’s focused on spending time with his wife MaryBeth outside of a hockey rink. The couple got married in December, meaning they haven’t had much time together away from hockey since the wedding.

“(Right now) she comes first, family comes first and we’re going to make sure I’m spending some quality time with her and from there obviously we look at the draft and make sure we’re icing a product we’re happy with and are getting a camp in a few months that we’re satisfied with,” he said.

“That (preparing for the draft) has obviously started, but first and foremost I’m looking after family first right now.”

Being focused on the product on the ice primarily, Malone doesn’t deal directly with making the Crushers game day work the way it does in the stands. He said things wouldn’t run so well without the volunteers.

“Getting back to what I said about family, I truly appreciate everything that our volunteers have done this season,” he said. “I think it’s time for them to spend some time with their families. We understand it’s a rigorous routine on Thursday nights here for them to perform their duties. Just from myself, the staff and the organization, the job that they do is second to none. We have the best volunteer base in the league and without them we don’t know where we’d be as an organization.”

christopher.cameron@ngnews.ca

On Twitter: @NGNewsChris 

Organizations: Eastlink Division, Weeks Hockey Organization

Geographic location: Pictou County, P.E.I.

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Recent comments

  • Brenda Spence MacLeod
    April 15, 2014 - 23:53

    Shame Mr Malone Better to say nothing and have people think you're a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.

  • Truecrusherfan
    April 15, 2014 - 21:34

    The fact that all of these people have nothing better to do with their time than to shoot off is absolutely disgusting. If you were all true fans you'd be with the team on their highs and lows. Yes, the last series ended quickly but it's a TEAM sport if you weren't all aware, which means no one player is to blame. Wade Taylor has done so much for this organization and community. Learn your facts before you run your mouth about this volunteer who would do anything for the coaches, players and anyone else involved in the organization. Get a new hobby instead of acting like dramatic teenage girls.

    • Bystander
      April 16, 2014 - 09:35

      As a fan of no particular team in the MHL, but someone who enjoys following many of the teams, I have to come to the defence of the fans who have commented on this story. Pictou has some of the most dedicated and loyal fans in the league - just look at their facebook page to get an idea of how much their team means to them. And for the most part, they always are encouraging to the players and generally (with the exception of a few) don't call out players in a negative way. What you are seeing from these fans/billet families/player families, is frustration with how players have been treated this past year. If the team management is not going to make a change on its own, the only way to get their attention is for fans to speak out. When I see that the die hard volunteers are speaking out and backing away from the team, it is not because they are fair weather fans, it is to make a point that something needs to change, and it is a show of support for the players. I think they were left with no choice but to speak out. I will say that I think that Wade Taylor may be in a tough spot with the coaching issue. Malone has 2 years left on his contract, so that would mean the Crushers would have to buy him out - that would be a significant expense and then they would still have to pay another coach for the next two years. Cash flow may be an issue which forces Wade to keep the current coach, whether he wants to or not. I don't know whether Wade is supportive of Malone or not, but $$ certainly may factor in the decision to keep him. I will say this about Malone, I know that he made promises to players this year and has broken those promises when he was offered up a shiny 20 year old who had RBC experience. I wonder if he is rethinking that decision in light of the fact that he didn't bring anything to the team that wasn't already there. When he made that trade, he had 2 lines that seemed to be able to put the puck in the net when needed and 3rd and 4th lines that seemed to step up when the 1st and 2nd lines were not. When he made the change before Christmas, the chemistry changed and things went down hill. Tyler Doyle (a heart and soul player) was pushed to the stands, a first line guy was shoved the 2nd line and so on and so on. Perhaps Malone should have talked to the other players in Summerside before he made that deal. I have been told there were no tears in the Summerside dressing room when the trade happened. I won't even comment on the night of drinking before a 2nd round playoff game. That speaks volumes on its own. Truecrusherfan, it's great that you will remain loyal to the team and to the management group, however, I think you have to look at where the other fans are coming from and respect their right to speak out. These are people who are very close to the players and who feel that they were treated badly.

  • Frustrated fan
    April 15, 2014 - 15:11

    Unbelievably frustrated with the way that this season ended up. There were many options to let sit out, if it was so hard on Malone he would have changed up who sat out. There never should have been 10 20 year olds, resulting in the WORST trade I have seen in a long time. I guess ballerinas scoring the odd goal is better than an excellent shot blocker. I'm so sorry that you were treated so horribly Tyler.

  • Crusher Fan
    April 15, 2014 - 14:02

    Wow! All I can say is that there must be a different view of the hockey games that from the stands and the bench that these fine young called theirs since the Wellness Center opened. To pull a guy with Tyler Doyle's caliper of the ice and replace with some players that I don't think knew what position they were playing because watching them you sure as heck did not know where they were suppose to be. At least with Doyle he was where he should have been doing more than his own job, the pucks that he stopped for the team was amazing. Too say he was the 10th 20 year old is wrong the last one coming to the team should have been the 10th but I guess he had championship experience!!! Take your share of the blame because as a fan you can sure tell who you have a hate on for as we seen it almost all season with the way you treated Holmes and at the end of the season with Doyle. To not contest that goal in the last game that was clearly over the net and put Holmes in the box for 10minutes of his last Junior A game was pretty much telling the crowd you were ready for your Honeymoon and not a Championship! Good job you had MacLeod on the back end because without him you would have had lost along time before you did. As a fan I could definitely say without hesitating that Doyle, Holmes and MacLeod were playing heart and soul for the Crusher Organization and its a shame that they didn't get to win a banner before their Junior Hockey career was over, the whole team deserved it but these three stand out to me.

  • JF
    April 15, 2014 - 13:58

    As a loyal fan since inception, I will not pass judgement on any one individual. My only comment is that the talent was on the ice this season. I will leave it up to the organization to decide who was responsible for putting it all together.

  • observing it all
    April 15, 2014 - 13:31

    I think the biggest problem here is actually the writer....Cameron bashed on Vokey earlier in the year...and now writing this from Malone. You want to pee off the fans, slamming players in the media is a sure fire way. If I was the Weeks organization I would ban this hack from any dressing room associated with the organization. Once that's done, get rid of Malone if you want to put anybody in the stands again.

    • hockeyfan
      April 15, 2014 - 14:33

      I am so tired of people hiding behind organizations and thanks to the writer now everyone know what the boys have put up with all year. He is just printing what Malone said I don't see any fault in that. Trust me the fans were already peed off . The Vokey thing I can not comment on but I feel this is different as he quoted words out of his mouth Malone DID NOT have to comment!! If the Weeks orginization is more concerned about what is being written in the local news which by the way is the truth rather than the fact that there are bigger issues here that need addressing than shame on them.

    • The Hamburgler
      April 15, 2014 - 14:47

      Amen, Cameron is a zero..... why even write this? Malone is done now... even players like Mitch Deruelle is on facebook saying he is the worst guy/ coach he's ever had.

    • hockeyfan
      April 15, 2014 - 15:18

      Cameron reported the TRUTH and personally I think the truth is nice to hear for a change. Thank you to Mr. Cameron for printing this. Remember Malone said it Cameron didn't make it up!!!! I just don't think the focus should be on Cameron he is not the real issue.

  • Rick
    April 15, 2014 - 09:32

    You have lost way more than the game or the series or the chance to go for the cup. You have lost the faith of very important people. There will be a lot of folks not attending or volunteering or supporting unless a change is made. So no matter who made the decision of who to play or who failed to rid the team of the supposed seed??? The buck ultimately stops with one individual. If the talented players do not perform or there is this supposed inconsistency. The buck again stops at one person. My biggest disappointment is his huge failure to own that. In any organization where there is a failure and the management and coaching staff fail generally both are replace? Why should we be so different. How can one be so confident after such a failure. Something does not add up here.

  • Nancy Stewart
    April 15, 2014 - 08:15

    Let me start by saying I love this team and think they have given us much to be proud of. That interview with the coach is an embarrassment to anyone involved with the organization. How low to blame this on one player...especially a good player who plays with heart...consistently, when he is allowed to play. Tyler is a well respected player. He has no reason to wear this. If this is a reflection of the level of support and treatment our players receive, it's very sad.

  • Sue Stewart
    April 14, 2014 - 23:37

    Shame on you Jason Malone.. Bench boss ....anyone who knows the team or has dealt with the players knew there was a lot of tension and disputes between you and the players. Take the hint and the high road. The fans , were no fans of yours but we're huge fans and supporters of the team. Because of you and the members of the organization people are not coming to cheer on the team. It was a huge mistake not playing Doyle and transitioning a forward to play forward and defence ... During all the games... Sure he could read a play but passing the puck and not show boating is another hazard you put forward. Shame on YOU.

  • Tim Rose
    April 14, 2014 - 23:33

    Absolutely disgusted with the fact that an article summarizing a team's early exit evolves into a discussion about an individual player, much less his performance. To all those that either know, or have had the pleasure to play with Tyler Doyle throughout his hockey career, I'm sure you all will agree that this kid would do absolutely anything to assist his team. I've never witnessed an individual of such small bodily stature get in front of so many pucks. Truly was the best defensively minded forward that I have had the pleasure to kill penalties alongside. It's funny how those who give absolutely everything to the game are the first to be replaced. I wish to take this opportunity to congratulate this individual on a great junior hockey career and I am sure I would not stand alone in saying that I would prefer to see myself out of any lineup rather than you. It was a pleasure being a teammate of yours and I am proud to say that you have become a life long friend to me. Love ya brother

  • hockeyfan
    April 14, 2014 - 23:10

    Like another twist of the knife in Doyle's back was that really necessary. You did your damage and you will not get sympathy here for your lack of sleep. Crusher fans are beyond frustrated and quite honestly surprised by the confidence you have in yourself and your staff. Very disappointed fan to say the least.

  • CrusherFan
    April 14, 2014 - 22:03

    I only missed 3 homes games all year. Since December it seemed like Malone lost the Crushers more and more. Tyler Doyle wasn't inconsistent the entire team wasn't consistent because they were losing respect for Malone and weren't buying into his systems. None more apparent was that in these playoffs. Malone wasn't coaching the Crushers because he lost them. He just hid behind his infamous paper and juggled lines like an amateur. If the rumours are true about how Malone treated players it's no wonder he lost the group in general. You ask any coach at any level that you won't make any friends treating your veterans poorly. The nail in the coffin for me in any support I had left for Malone was when he continued to sit Tyler Doyle when it was confirmed that some players broke curfew and were out to the wee hours of the morning before game 3 vs. Truro. The Crushers could have traded Doyle and allowed him to play out his Junior career. It shows the organization had no respect for what Tyler brought to the team in three years. Rumour has it that some players won't return if Malone is still coach and neither will a lot of fans. Good luck attracting the best when veteran players are treated like this. Malone needs to go. There are some very good and experienced coaches on the market right now. The timing is right. Malone admitting he failed and he should be held accountable. Don't make this organization the laughing stock of the MHL.

  • Stacey Murphy
    April 14, 2014 - 21:22

    He was a very consistent player.... I wouldn't even dare to pretend I know anything about coaching..... nor would I ever bad mouth this team, everyone knows I love the entire organization.... starting with the players and their families! Thank you Jason for mentioning us.... the volunteers! We love our fans and our team, but I did watch this amazing young man, and fantastic hockey player who was full of life and love for this organization become broken and sadly disappointed .... he lost his passion and his one love in life.... This was not Tyler's fault.... I'm not going to lay blame, not my place to do so, however I can't except that Tyler was the tenth. twenty year old and that he was inconsistent..... He was a strong player with unbelievable heart and determination..... and deserved more! I'm sorry if this offends anyone at all, not my intention.... But I needed to get this off my chest.... as I'm sure many will need to do also.... I will not be returning as a volunteer next season and this saddens me to the core.... was a real love for me to see these wonderful young men grow with this team, but I haven't felt like a part of this organization for a long time now and that doesn't sit well with me! We truly were once a part of the team..... again not my intention to offend anyone here but I believe this needed to be said!

  • Bob Doyle
    April 14, 2014 - 20:45

    The season is over and you're still throwing Tyler under the bus..........grow up, if you want to place blame I'm sure you can find another place to lay it.

    • Fan
      April 15, 2014 - 07:52

      Bob your frustration has to be through the roof. It sucks from a fans stand point to have to watch a player like Tyler sit half the year out because the coach has a vendetta against him. As a fan from day one of this organization coming to New Glasgow I will not be back as long as Malone is behind the bench. His actions this year with our players has been an embarrassment to the organization. The fact that Wade Taylor condones his actions and won't stand behind the players but instead with Malone is unacceptable. It's sad when the entire community realizes there is a problem between the players and the coach and he does nothing.