The Rockland Nationals are going full steam ahead this hockey season, with no plans for a modified schedule. It’ll be business as usual as of September, starting with their training camp on September 7. Before that, though, new players will be looking forward to the prospect camp kicking off on August 13.
“We’ve got a pretty good group of kids that have played with us before, some from outside of the Ottawa region,” said Jeff Fox, who recently replaced Dan Sauvé as head coach of the Rockland Nationals, “Will Collins and Justin Dauphinais are gonna be coming in as part of our leadership group. Alex Frechette is coming back, we’ve got a few defenseman coming back, we’ve got our returning goalie Jack McGovern coming back – we’ve got a good core group that are coming back.”
Not everyone from last year is returning however, some of them having left to play south of the border. The team staff look forward to filling out the roster a little, both with new talent they’ve been keeping an eye on and players graduating from their U18 program. The biggest hole to fill is right wingers, according to Fox, as well as defenseman and top six forwards. This might present a challenge.
“One of our weaknesses is gonna be our experience,” said Fox, “Some of our guys, having played their first season in an altered condition due to COVID, has left them with a lack of experience of a regular season. We’re keeping an eye on them and hoping our leadership group will take them under their wing.”
Despite this, Fox was optimistic about the speed and skill that are already present on the team, especially paired with the talent the coaches expect to make the jump from their U18 program.
“Nothing’s gonna be given to them by any means, but they’ve got all the tools in the toolbox to make the transition,” Fox said, “They’ve played one or two seasons in U18, so they have all the tools in the toolbox. If you’re putting the work in in the summer, you’ll come in with a better chance.”