SPRINGHILL – Losing is never fun. Just ask the Cumberland County Blues.
They are sitting at the bottom of the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League with one win in 15 games, their third-year coach Phil Lynds was recently fired by the team, and their new coach, along with his assistant coach and general manager, quit the team and hightailed it out of Springhill following their 8-4 loss to the Antigonish Bulldogs Sunday night in Springhill.
Newly-minted coach and general manager, Greg ‘Nicky’ Nickerson, hopes to turn things around.
“Going into a situation like that, with the record they have, they’re beat up a little bit,” said Nickerson following Wednesday night’s practice in Springhill. “So we’re just trying to get the positive attitude back and have some fun.”
Nickerson put the team through their paces and said he’s impressed.
“I’m surprised at how fast they are, so there’s nowhere to go but up,” said Nickerson. “This team here in the next couple year’s will take a run at the Dojo (Don Johnson Memorial Cup).”
Nickerson grew up in Amherst, played for the Amherst Ramblers, and has lived in New Brunswick for more than 25 years. He currently lives in Shediac.
“Amherst is my hometown and I have some relatives in Springhill,” said Nickerson.
His assistant’s on the bench will be Amherst’s Mike MacKenzie and Tim Rogers.
“Tim coached with me in Shediac with the (Junior C) Predators, and we coached the (Junior B) Moncton Vito’s a few years back when we won the Don Johnson Cup (In 2012),” said Nickerson. “And I’ve known Mike from years ago when he played with the Amherst Ramblers.”
Nickerson was also an assistant coach with Bill Riley, a NHL player out of Amherst, when Riley coached the Gagnon Beavers of the Maritime Hockey League.
The Blues have two games this weekend.
On Friday they host the Pictou County Scotians at 7:30 p.m., and then on Sunday they’re in Antigonish for a rematch of last Sunday’s game against the Bulldogs.
“It’s a learning curve for me to find out what the players can do and what they can’t do,” said Nickerson. “I’ll get to know the players and let them get to know me.”
The Blues also have several suspended players going into the weekend.
“We have four or five guys out. Discipline is the thing,” said Nickerson.
“You can’t win hockey games in the penalty box. If the other team is taking 40, 50, 60 shots that means the other team has the puck 80 per cent of the time,” he added. “So we hope to tighten up our defensive zone coverage, reduce shots on goal, and once we take care of our own end of the rink the offence will take care of itself.”
Nickerson believes the Blues will make the playoffs this season.
“My job is to get them back up and going again,” he said. “We’ll get her turned around.”