KIRKLAND LAKE - With training camp set to start Friday, two veterans of last year’s NOJHL Champion Kirkland Lake Gold Miners say they are ready to go and there is only one mission and that is to defend their title.
Forwards Zach Pease and Patrick Picard will be back in Coach Marc Lafleur’s line up and they say winning is the only goal. Both have trained hard over the summer and are more than looking forward to the start of the season.
“I Can’t wait for the season start. I’m really anxious to get going again and fly around the rink. Since I have been home from the season I have been training with my strength and conditioning coach five-to-seven times a week. I have gained 12-15l pounds of muscle throughout the summer and feel faster and a lot stronger on the ice. My stride also feels more efficient and more powerful. I have been shooting a lot of pucks as well in my backyard shooting rink and have seen my shot make remarkable increases since last season. I have been skating a good amount this summer and have also played in a couple tournaments including the Chowder Cup in Boston. I had a really strong tournament scoring 3 goals and 5 assists and my team placed 2nd with over 60 teams participating in the tournament,” says Pease.
He also has some definite ideas as to what his role on the team will be and how he feels he will be able to contribute to the club.
“My role as a player this year would to be a top power play guy and a top penalty Kill guy where I can play on both special teams. Five-on-five I’d want to be on the first line and be in a scoring role. I have worked really hard this summer and think I earned a role like this. The rest is up to me on how I perform and where Coach Marc thinks I fit in,“ he adds.
He also says the feeling of last year`s win is still with him and he predicts the team will taste victory again.
“The feeling last year of winning the whole thing and getting to participate in the Dudley Hewitt was amazing. We`re going to win the league again and should have a real strong showing at the Dudley from our experience last year as I think we learned a little bit from it. Hopefully we do well there and get a chance to participate in the RBC Cup which would be surreal.
As for Picard he too can`t wait to hit the ice and he wants the team to go farther than last year.
“I am extremely happy to come back to play another season for coach Marc Lafleur and the Gold Miners. I’m still very disappointed how the season ended last year and I believe we are going to go even further this year. I have been training hard all summer for that exact reason, and to be at the top of my game this year.“
He is also looking to expand his role on the club and he wants to be seen for his leadership both on and off the ice.
`For this year, I want be more of a leader and also help the team in any possible to win. I still remember the feeling of winning that championship in front of our fans last year. We have the best fans in the league and they deserved to be rewarded for their support. I’m looking forward to come back and start the defence of out championship. No one will take it away from us.“
For his part Miners` Head Coach Marc Lafleur says he is extremely happy to see both back and he will be expecting much from them.
“At the front end we are losing quite a few goals so they will be expected to carry some of the load that we lost over the course of the summer. (Zach) is somebody with a lot of speed. He is in your face he can kill penalties. He seems to have worked on his shot a lot this summer. He also went to a couple of summer tournaments and he was one of the top point producers on the teams he was playing for so we hope that is going to carry over into the year.“
As for Picard, Coach Lafleur says Picard does a lot of the little things that maybe unnoticed to fans but are noticed by the coaching staff and are essential to making the team successful.
“For example he wins a lot of draws which is extremely important especially late in a game (and) especially in our zone. He blocks a lot of shots, so Pat does a lot of the little details the average fan may not come to appreciate.“