Thursday, March 26, 2015 1:34:25 EDT PM
KIRKLAND LAKE - With the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners now watching the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League playoffs from the sidelines, General Manager and Head Coach Marc Lafleur spoke with the Northern News about the year that was.
He said while they were happy with the regular season, the playoffs were obviously a different story. “It’s going to be a long spring and summer. It’s something that happens but you don’t want it to happen to you. There is a lot of self-reflection.”
But as disappointed as he still is in the results, he already has his eyes set on next season. He says the scouting has already started with phone calls being made and they plan on going to a number of showcase tournaments this summer. He added a number of players who are eligible to return are expected to. However a number of players have aged-out so spots will be available and he said they will do their utmost to make the Gold Miners as competitive as possible next season.
Among those who will not be in the line up are Ethan Strong and Steven Babin. In their three years with the Gold Miners the two were powerhouses at their positions. In his tenure with Kirkland Lake, Babin ammased 211 points in 159 games (regular season, playoffs Dudley-Hewitt Cup). He was also an all-star. As for Strong, the defensive corner-stone of the Miners played in 175 totals games, nabbing 95 points. He was also named this past season’s defenceman of the year, best overall team player and was a first team all-star.
“You can’t replace those guys both on the ice and off the ice,” stated Lafleur. “They were pillars of the community”, he added.
Since the beginning of the playoffs a number of significant changes were made, including the re-emergence of a a team in Iroquois Falls and the new franchise in Timmins.
Lafleur says have four teams, including Cochrane so close to each other, should make for some great rivalries.
“Its going to be interesting, its going to be great for the fans,” Lafleur pointed out. He added he was very happy to see Iroqouis Falls with a team.
“I’m extremely happy for them in The Falls. The community really supported them so they deserve to have a team.”
As for the rest of the current playoffs. He says he is not going to make any predictions because he doesn’t know if he is going to watch or not. He says the sudden departure of the Miners still stings.