Changes abound for Fundy Phantoms

Justin Dickie
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PARRSBORO New coaches, a new executive committee, a new approach. Head coach Paul Atkinson and the Fundy Phantoms are looking to change the face of this Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League franchise immediately.

"The last three years (the team) has finished in last place. Were trying to financially get the team on board and were going to strive to make the playoffs," Atkinson said.

The team has struggled financially since its inception due to a lack of sponsorship from the community and low attendance. Not enough money has meant not enough talent, leading to not enough wins. A losing team doesnt put fans in the rink, so they cant make money at the door.

Its a vicious cycle.

But all that will hopefully chance this year as Atkinson, a former coach in the Cumberland midget AAA system, has been promoting the team to some of his former players, trying to get more local talent on the team. Hes looking to keep his players on the ice and out of the penalty box (the Phantoms are known for their fisticuffs) in his first season behind the bench.

Also, the Phantoms will at least split their home games between Parrsboro and Springhill. Atkinson said Parrsboro is on a short leash and if the support isnt there, all the home games will be in Springhill.

"If the team doesnt have money, the team doesnt have players. You got to have money to put a good team on the ice," Atkinson said. "I promise youre going to see improvement in this years Phantom team. Weve got a lot of sponsorships on board already, jersey sponsorships from the local area. A lot more money has been put forth already than in the past."

Not all is on the upswing for the Phantoms, as the team must deal with the loss of last years top two players in Corey Bates and Nick Merrill, who died tragically in a car accident recently. The Phantoms are dedicating the season to the memory of Bates and Merrill.

"Those two kids were two of the kids that would show up for the games and give their all, all the time, even when they were losing. They loved hockey and they loved being around the team and the players," Atkinson said. "Were going to look to the returning players to step up and step in where they left off and hopefully things will come together.

Phantoms

"I hope all my kids have the same desire that these two kids have had in the past couple years with the Phantoms."

Returning players Ryan Arbing, Shayne St. Peter and Chris Dwyer will be relied on heavily this season and Atkinson feels Matt Bartley and Dylan Ripley coming out of midget should be able to step in right away and make an impact.

Phantoms training camp goes Sept. 8, 9 , 15 and 16. Atkinson encourages anyone looking to play Junior C to attend the Cumberland Cool Blues training camp in Springhill starting Sept. 1 at the Richard Calder Arena.

The Phantoms season starts Oct. 5.



jdickie@amherstdaily.com

Organizations: Cumberland, Nova Scotia Junior C Hockey League, AAA

Geographic location: PARRSBORO, Springhill

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