TRENTON – The Pictou County Scotians will have a new bench boss next fall.
Ex-coach Brandon Verge spent one season at the helm before work commitments made it impossible for him to continue with the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League club, so Phil Lynds is the new guy in charge.
Lynds joined the Scotians around Christmas-time last season, when he was brought in as an assistant coach.
The native of East Mountain, Colchester County has coached Bantam and Peewee at the AAA levels, Minor Midget and Junior C and over the years, and has taken numerous teams to Atlantic championships.
“I was just sitting around and thinking my coaching days were winding down. I went over there to help (Verge) and it put the joy back into coaching for me,” said the 59-year-old.
While it’s far too early to know which players will return to the Scotians in the fall, if everything goes as planned, Lynds expects to have a good core of players to work with.
“Our league has improved tremendously. A lot of the players could play Junior A but don’t want to give that big of a commitment. We had a very talented team last year, and we’ve got a good group coming back.”
His assistant coach is Howie Atwater, who has been with the Scotians for three seasons and who has taken over the club’s general manager role.
“I'm very excited with what we have coming back for players and the hiring of Phil as head coach,” Atwater said. “He has a wealth of experience that will be a good fit for this team.”
The Scotians won the NSJHL title in 2017 and finished second in their division this past season before being eliminated in the first round by the Antigonish Bulldogs. They never seemed to get untracked in the series against the Bulldogs, falling behind early and losing in six games.
The Scotians had difficulty getting some of the players out to practice on a regular basis – start time was Wednesdays at 9:30 p.m. at Trenton rink.
Lynds hopes to get an earlier practice time next season, which would make it easier for the players who attend StFX University and have to travel from Antigonish County, sometimes in nasty weather conditions.
“There were a lot of problems at the end of the year and Antigonish was better prepared than we were,” in the playoffs, the coach added.
“They didn’t have more talent, but they were ready for us. You need everybody on the same page in the playoffs.”