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Bancroft Rockhounds coach optimistic about team doing better next season

The Bancroft Rockhounds are out of the GMHL playoffs but, despite that, those with the team are proud of a successful first season.

“We looked back even a couple of hours after we got knocked out yesterday and we all agreed it was a huge success for an expansion team to go that far,” Head Coach Denny Dubblestyne tells the newsroom. They lost the third and deciding game 5 to 2 to the Bradford Bulls Monday afternoon. Dubblestyne notes how he’s impressed with his team, which is the youngest in the league, for sticking with the Bulls who are one of the oldest.

The first time coach says team management did well to get to know the players before they hit the ice, which helped create good chemistry. “Coming into this year I wanted team bonding, team bonding and team bonding,” Dubblestyne explains. He adds that the players deserve credit as well, noting how they bought into what he was saying.

Leon Hartl lead the way for the team scoring 31 goals and 52 points in 36 games. Vitezslav Klesla lead the way in points by defenseman on the team with 30 in 38 games. 17-year-old Egor Popov was solid in net for the team going 12-12 during the season with two shutouts. All three were GMHL all-stars.

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The Rockhounds got off to a rough start, winning only five of their first 15 games. They ended up winning 18 of the next 30 games to finish off the season and clinch the 6th seed in the North Division. “We really developed and that’s huge for a young group,” Dubblestyne says. He also credits key acquisitions during the year for helping their run to the playoffs. Dylan Burton was the highest-profile of those moves. Playing in his last junior season, the 21-year-old scored 48 points in 28 games after joining the Rockhounds.

While Burton won’t be returning next season, Dubblestyne says he expects a lot of the other players to be coming back. He adds that he has high expectations for the team next year if they are able to bring a lot of players back.

“You would be surprised with how much better a player can get over the summer,” Dubblestyne explains about the off-season. He says he will be checking in with the players to make sure they’re staying in shape and are ready for when the puck drops on next season. “No one likes losing,” he says. “We have to be hungry for next year.”

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