In each of their seven seasons, the junior team has appeared in the title series
Monday, September 9, 2019
By Rob J. Ross
DORCHESTER - No one wants to be the team to end the streak.
For the Dorchester Dolphins, making the Yeck Division final is more than simply a goal for the Provincial Junior League hockey team.
It has become the expectation every season in Dorchester, thanks to seven consecutive appearances in the final, winning three.
A fact not lost on Dolphins' head coach Mark Steele, who returns for his second season, along with assistant coach Chris Masse.
"That is the persona," laughs Steele. "You can't come up short."
The Dolphins were Yeck finalists last season for the second year in a row.
Brody Smith, the new team captain, returns, along with gritty forward Ryan Root, forward Dylan Buckholz, defenceman Braden Duncan and both goalies, Matt Waller and Liam McCarthy.
"Our leadership group is really good, but it's not just one person," said Steele. "We have a lot of veterans that don't have a letter, but are a big part of the leadership group as well."
Forwards Jovin Eterno, Ryan Poley, Dylan Van Dusen and Noah Small and defencemen Austin Bisschop, Colin Capstick and Nick Schildroth, are all back from last season.
Smith, who arrived in Dorchester via a trade from Lambeth last season, brings five years of junior experience, including 121 games in the Greater Ontario Hockey League, all but 15 games with the St. Marys Lincolns.
"I've played in the league a few years and I have a little bit of Junior B experience. I bring that to the table and it helps out," said Smith, adding with a wide smile. "I'm the old man from the young guy I use to be."
The final roster was set last week and features 12 players over six feet in height, including both goalies and four defencemen.
A three day main camp and exhibition road games against Ayr, Alliston, Wellesley and Tavistock, gave the players plenty of ice time.
"Our camp went well. We put them through the paces and had four games to see everybody," Steele said. "We're going to be fast and we're going to be a lot stronger on the puck. We have a few bigger guys. We've added a little more toughness and grit."
Steele explained they were looking to add size to the roster, but how well players adapt to the atmosphere around the team also figured in on decisions.
"We made sure they fit not only the hockey side of it, but they're going to fit in the room. That's a big, big thing that we make sure we do a good job of."
The Dolphins now have three weeks of practice to prepare for the regular season, which for them doesn't begin until their home opener, Friday, September 28th.
The Dolphins dropped both exhibition games over this past weekend at the Flight Exec Centre, losing to Tavistock, 5-3, on Saturday and Wellesley, 5-2, on Sunday.
"We haven't done any system work," said Steele, following the Tavistock game. "Today we ran the lines with no structure. We mixed the vets with the rookies."
New to 'Phin Nation are six-foot one defenceman Tristan Gerth, at 16 years old the youngest Dolphin, defencemen Quinn Wenger and Rewdy Scott, and forwards Kalob Morgado, a six-foot four 17 year old, Bryce Darville, Joshua Short, Caden Faulkner and Isaac Sturgeon.
Faulkner who turns 17 next month, played 39 games with the Lambeth Lancers last season, contributing six goals and 12 assists.
Smith has been impressed by the new faces on the team.
"The boys did well against (Tavistock). We had all our rookies and we're playing against vets in the league. They can hold their own," Smith said. "I like to see the rookies keep doing better."
Waller is one of the team's four overagers, perhaps unusual for a goalie, but the coaches loved the chemistry between the 21 year old and 18-year old McCarthy.
"The two of them get along so well. We couldn't go wrong," said Steele. "They're amazing together. They both fight for the net and are competitive against each other, but there's no animosity. They both cheer for each other. In the room, it makes everything right."
The Dolphins remain a solid home grown team with seven players from Dorchester and Poley coming from Thorndale.
The Dolphins open the 2019-20 season, at home, Friday, September 27th, against the Port Stanley Sailors, at 7:30 p.m.