NOJHL team preseason preview: Kirkland Lake Gold Miners



Release Date: Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Photo credit: Jean-Rene Daoust

NOJHL team preseason preview: Kirkland Lake Gold Miners

SUDBURY, Ont. – It will be a new look behind the bench for the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League this season and Ryan Wood has come on board as the club’s new head coach and general manager.

The Winnipeg, Man., product replaces Marc Lafleur, who spent five seasons at the helm in Kirkland Lake, including leading the Gold Miners to a NOJHL championship in 2014. Lafleur stepped down from his position in early May to take a similar role with the newly-formed Hearst Lumberjacks.

As for Wood, he too is no stranger to league titles as a coach; winning a pair of Greater Metro Hockey League crowns and posting consecutive division-wins through the past four seasons.

He takes over a franchise that went 28-21-4-3 last season.

Wood will get a first-hand look of his new squad, in terms of game action, this weekend as they compete in the Polar Bear Classic in Cochrane and Iroquois Falls.

The following is the fourth of 12 NOJHL team preseason previews and features the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.

Head Coach/GM – Ryan Wood

NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2017-18 season?

RYAN WOOD: Like any team I have coached in the past, my goal is to win. However we do have some great young talented players who we want to see develop further and help advance them to the next level of hockey. If we can find a way to win with these young men and help grow their games to the point of contending for a championship that is good for me.

NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on what you’ve seen in on-ice sessions and what you expect to see heading into your preseason contests.

RW: I liked the pace of our main camp. Overall, like any team, it is tough to make decisions about players without real game action. We will keep a few bubble guys around until after the Polar Bear Classic and make final decisions then.

NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you expect big things from?

RW: Tyler Fyfe is a kid who could be a potential 30-goal scorer for us. I’d like to see Marshal Nikitin have a breakout season. The kid has had nothing but bad luck, injury wise, over his junior career and he has come into camp healthy and ready to go. If he can stay off the IR, I think he has potential to be one of the top scorers in the league. Will Mizuik is also another kid who had some injury issues last season, but from what I’m told and have had been able to be see, he is another kid who could contribute. We are fortunate to have some good pieces to our team that have come back like Dionne Demke, Max Cavallini and Kelsey Katchiuk that I think are hungry to prove that they’re valuable to the success of a hockey club.

NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you’ve been impressed with early on?

RW: So far a few of our new guys that have looked good are Jake Semmens, Declan Carter and Zach Bannister. Semmens is a big right shot D who played Jr. C for Orillia last year. He has been good in camp, is big and strong and has a bullet of a shot that has been impressive. Carter played AAA midget for Notre Dame and has also been impressive. He’s a 1999-born forward and has shown some flashes of nice scoring touch. Bannister is from Alberta and has some AJHL experience. He has showed well and could be a nice surprise for us offensively. He played at OHA Edmonton last season and is a 1999-birth year forward.

NOJHL: How has it been fro you since joining the organization?

RW: Being here now in person after spending the off-season in Barrie is good. Getting to know our entire executive and support staff has been great. Everyone is very eager to help and ensure the success of the team is intact. There is lots of work to do at the start of the season and so many people have been so helpful to make my transition to the league go so smooth.

NOJHL: What are you looking to build upon in Kirkland Lake?

RW: Ultimately I’d like to have us be a place to send hockey players consistently to NCAA programs, CIS as well as the next level of junior hockey. Being able to develop and promote kids is how I was successful in the past programs I’ve worked for and expect to continue that trend here in Kirkland Lake.

NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the preseason and the start of the regular season?

RW: Just get all the boys on the same page. Learning new systems take time. We want to identify where we feel each player can contribute to the success of our program.

Sept. 1 vs. Kingston Voyageurs (OJHL) 4 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
Sept. 2 vs. Cochrane Crunch 12 p.m. (Jus Jordan Arena)
Sept. 2 vs. Espanola Express 8 p.m. (Jus Jordan Arena)
Sept. 3 vs. T.B.A.

Twitter: @KLGoldMiners
Facebook: /KLGoldMinersHockey