SUDBURY, Ont. – With a new look behind the bench, in terms of recently appointed head coach and general manager Trevor Ritchie, the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners will look to hold their own in the ever-tight East Division in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Making the move to Kirkland Lake after guiding the Elliot Lake Wildcats the back half of the 2018-19 campaign, Ritchie aims to build a competitive team with his efforts, along with a returning veteran coaching staff that offers plenty of NOJHL experience.
Expecting to ice a roster of numerous new-look Gold Miners, will aim to match or surpass a recent success rate that has seen the club average just over 32 wins per seasons the past five years.
This latest NOJHL team season preview highlights the Kirkland Lake Gold Miners.
NOJHL: What are your expectations for the club heading into the 2019-20 season?
TREVOR RITCHIE: I believe that we are a team that will compete night in and night out. We do not have a lot of returnees, but boast a good group of guys with junior experience and great character.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on the club as you near the start of another season.
TR: I like where we are currently sitting with our roster. We have had a very good preseason and our guys are all here to prove something to each other and to everyone watching.
NOJHL: Who are a couple of returning players you look to be play a pivotal role for the club in 2019-20?
TR: Some of those we look at here to play key roles are Quinn Schneidmiller, who is back for his third season with the team and will be our captain. Quinn brings leadership, on and off the ice, and will be looking to chip in wherever he is needed. We also bring back D-man Spencer Jones. Watch for Spencer to play a key role for the Gold Miners backend this season
NOJHL: Who are some newcomers you’ve signed that you expect to perform well in the league?
TR: We would like to welcome A.J. Campbell and Max Newnam. Both players bring in Jr. A experience from within this league and as 20-year-olds will be good role models for our younger guys with some less experience. Campbell comes to us from the Timmins Rock. A.J. brings a complete package with him and is a 200-foot player who is tough to play against night in and night out. A.J. will also be wearing an ‘A’ this season and counted on for some veteran leadership.Newnam comes back to the Gold Miners for his second stint with the team. We acquired Max in an earlier deal with the Powassan Voodoos this spring. Max will bring offense to our team and we also believe an added leadership role.
NOJHL: The league standings were extremely tight, especially in the NOJHL East, where you are now coaching after making the move over from Elliot Lake. How do you feel that such a competitive league will help your team?
TR: This league provides great hockey night in and night out. There is a playoff atmosphere from game one right through to, and including, game 56. Our players need to be ready everyday. Watching this division from the Western Conference the last two seasons, I’ve seen first-hand there is some exciting hockey here and we are expecting another tight race this season.
NOJHL: What goals do you have heading into the start of the regular season?
TR: Goals for us this year are to take everyday as it comes and look at each game as a new opportunity. We base a lot of our play on analytics and what we can do better. It is a grind and we aim to get better every day.
NOJHL: Give us your thoughts on how it has gone early in your tenure in Kirkland Lake?
TR: Kirkland Lake is a great hockey community. The organization and the town itself have done nothing but been supportive of myself and my family. I am very happy to have back such an experienced coaching staff with Tom Sinclair, Jed Allick, Bryan Bertoncello and trainer Carla Vine. This group, along our board, has helped make this an enjoyable journey thus far. We look forward to another NOJHL season. It is a marathon, not a sprint, and we are ready.
NOJHL: Any closing thoughts or comments you would like to offer?
TR: We are looking forward to another great season in the NOJHL. The league has some geographical difficulties in recruitment, but as we have seen in the past, the talent level is getting better each year. This is a great league to be a part of and we are looking forward to a great 2019-20 season.