In his second year as coach of the Sudbury Nickel Barons, former Rayside-Balfour Minor Hockey sensation Jason Young is anxious for a fresh start.
In January 2014, Young was named the mid-season replacement for Trevor Blanchard, who stepped away from the bench for personal reasons. The reality of the situation allowed Young only so much flexibility.
"Straight off, as a coach, you get to pick your team," said Young, noting one of the major differences. "Last year, I came in halfway through and basically, it was what it was at the time. You do the best you can with what you have."
This season though, he isn't inheriting someone else team, something Young's looking forward to.
"I'm excited about this year," Young said. "As a group of coaches, I think we picked a pretty good team. I know that we're going to be fast, and we'll have some skill up front, and some pretty good goaltenders. I'm excited to start tomorrow, and I think the guys are too."
With the Mattawa Blackhawks making a visit to the McClelland Arena in Copper Cliff to kickoff the 2014-2015 NOJHL season, the Nickel Barons solidified their netminding situation, welcoming local product Kevin Labelle back from the Barrie Colts training camp.
With only a small handful of returnees expected in the Sudbury lineup Sept. 3, the adrenaline will be amped up, big time, for a whole slew of teenagers anxious to make their mark in the junior ranks.
"You want them on their toes, but you don't want them running around all over the place and wasting energy," said Young. "You want them to play with control."
That message is also being heeded by veteran blueliner Jonathan Lavigne, one of a handful of go-to players on the Nickel Barons.
"I want to work on my consistency," he said. "I felt that I would go up and down, and maybe need to simplify my game a little bit. As a team, we are playing more of a simple, fundamental game, without running around so much."
At 18 and with a couple of years of junior eligibility remaining, Lavigne is not adverse to enjoying some stability at this point in his hockey career.
"I feel that this is a team that I want to play for, this is a team that I want to help succeed," he said. "I feel that during my hockey career, I've always jumped quickly from one level to the next, and really never had the chance to be that veteran, be that stable 'D' guy. I've always been one of the rookies, one of the youngest on the team."
The Nickel Barons don't play their second game of the season until Sept. 10, at home against the Elliot Lake Wildcats, before heading on the road next Thursday for three more games in three days.
Sudbury will face the Cochrane Crunch, Kirkland Lake Gold Miners and Abitibi Eskimos on a very efficient swing through northeastern Ontario.