As the 6th seed, the Bancroft Rockhounds may not be expected to go far in the Russell Cup playoffs, but their coach and players say betting against them isn’t a good idea.
“We definitely have all the pieces this year,” Head Coach Denny Dubblestyne tells the MyBancroftNow.com newsroom as his team prepares to get on the team bus to travel to Bradford to face the 3rd seed Bulls. “Being a new program, we weren’t expected to do so well,” he adds. Dubblestyne says he and the players always felt like they would do well, despite being an expansion team.
“We have a pretty tight locker room,” he says. Being a first-year Head Coach, Dubblestyne wanted to instill that value in the room and make sure the players were close with each other. The former goaltender played 11 seasons in Canada and Sweden before joining the Rockhounds. He says he’s tried to take values he learned from his former coaches and apply that to how he coaches.
Since joining the team in October, forward Dylan Burton has been one of the team’s most consistent players with 48 points in 28 games, which is second-most on the team behind Leon Hartl. He was also named to the Greater Metro Junior A Hockey League’s All-Star team. “This is my last year in junior so I’m trying to make it all count,” Burton says. He adds that’s what’s giving him extra motivation. “I don’t want to have any regrets,” he says.
Along with Burton, the team’s solid play has been led by three other All-Stars: Hartl, defenseman Vitezslav Klesla, and goaltender Yegor Popov.
Burton says this is the closest group he’s played with. “I came in not knowing everyone, but they all made me feel like home right away,” he explains. When he first heard he would join the Rockhounds, he looked up their roster and noticed how many different nationalities were represented so he wasn’t sure what to expect. Since joining the team, he’s made his mark and hopes to keep his personal and the team’s momentum going as the playoffs get started.
Both Dubblestyne and Burton agreed that despite being the lower seed, they have a shot to pull off the upset. Bancroft-native Trent Schutt has also helped out since joining the team earlier this year. In six games, the forward has four points
Game one of the best-of-three series is in Bradford tonight with an 8 PM puck drop, but game two will be in Bancroft. That will be this Saturday starting at 7 PM at the North Hastings Community Centre. If necessary, game three will be back in Bradford on February 24th.