Sam McNeish - The Citizen Cumberland County Cool Blues coach Ron Reynolds goes over strategy during a recent practice session. The team is off to a solid start and is currently filling a few holes in the lineup in preparation for the start of the regular season.
SPRINGHILL The Cumberland County Cool Blues may be the victims of their own success.
Thats a challenge they are willing to meet head on as they head into the 2007-08 season, coming off the best performane in franchise history.
The team came within a goal of winning the Don Johnson Cup, the Eastern Canadian Junior B hockey championships at the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre this past spring.
As Ive said, we have set the bar higher for ourselves this year as a franchise and from what Ive seen to date, Im cautiously optimistic well have a good chance this season, Ron Reynolds, coach and general managr of the Blues said.
We have a lot of offense up front, our defense is solid, and our goaltending situation just got better with the addition of Matt Kimber from the Moncton Beavers. The league is usually close so we have to raise the bar a bit higher to get above that, he added.
The Blues are using the exhibition schedule to get veteran players game ready, but also to audition players to see who will best fit the chemistry of the team for the long run towards the playoffs.
Several players have started to shine through practices and game situations, which bodes well for the team structure.
Reynolds has been impressed with 16-year-old Shayne OByrne, an Amherst native who played Midget Minor AAA midget. He said the speedy and gritty forward has had a solid camp and should be a Junior A player and beyond down the road.
Springhill native Geoff Ryan, a student at St. Francis Xavier University is back after a year off to get his studies in order.
Hes big and strong, keeps it simple and really should help our team on the back end, Reynolds said.
David Burke is another kid who has impressed us. Hes 17, 129 pounds and the fans will really like the way he plays, the energy he brings. Hes got speed and his upside potential is huge.
Other local products that have impressed include Jordie Shaw of Amherst and Springhills Seth Crowe, teammates last season with the Midget Minor AAA squad.
Shaws hard working attitude and Crowes size and scoring ability make them great prospects.
Shaw and Koddy Sutton were sent back to Midget this week for another year of development.
A new face in the mix is John Sanipass of Big Cove, N.B., a big forward released by the Moncton Beavers last week.
Ryan Smith, who played with the Amherst Ramblers last season, has been a great addition and the solid play of veterans Matt Noiles, a draft pick of the Halifax Wolverines, Justin Cortes and the return of Jordan Bragg in the coming days will make the already veteran laden team tough to beat.
In three pre-season games to date, the Blues have earned two victories against one defeat with rookie-laden lineups as the coaching staff worked to look at players to ensure they had the right selections to open the season with.