No pressure on new Lancers’ coach

ENTERING FROM THE WINGS: Ryan Delaney, far right, will look to step into the shoes of former Lancers captain Kevin Shier as one of three leaders of Leaside High School’s varsity hockey squad. Also taking up the mantle will be Adam Huckle and goalie Sean Ryan.

Mark Chambers optimistic young hockey squad will win

There’s a changing of the guard at Leaside for its upcoming varsity boys hockey season.

Bench boss Peter Shier has departed after two strong seasons with the Lancers, including a 2010-11 campaign that saw the Green and Gold make it to the OFSAA semi-finals.

Due to commitments outside of the school Shier has passed the reins over to teacher-coach Mark Chambers. The Leaside alumnus will head a staff including his father Ken Chambers, also an alum, and manager Trevor Hughes.

With the new post, some might expect taking on the job of coaching the team comes with high expectations. Not so according to Chambers.

“When I was here, there was always strong teams and when my dad was here there were strong teams,” he said. “I don’t really feel as much pressure as much as I have some expectations that we will be a pretty good hockey team.

“I try not to think about coaching high school athletics as a pressure cooker, it’s more about extra-curricular and for the kids to enjoy themselves.”

There’s a full roster of 24 players, but only eight returning from last year’s OFSAA-qualifying team. Kevin Shier and Jake Clements are now gone, but remaining team members Sean Ryan, Adam Huckle and Ryan Delaney could don the “C” or “A” both on their jerseys, or in the case of goalie Ryan, in the dressing room.

“I expect those three guys to have a big leadership role on our team,” he said. “We’ve got some young guys who are looking for leadership, they’re really good players.”

Graduation took many of the veterans from the Lancers, but Hughes does not see that as an impediment.

“We lost a lot of very good players,” he said. “We’re a smaller team this year and we’re not quite as deep of a team this year.”

Grade 10s looking good in practices include identical twins Jake and Sam Goldstein, Ian Istvan and Nolan Klumak — all members of the GTHL’s Ted Reeve Thunder.

“These are guys that don’t have a lot of size but they make up for that in speed and stick-handling,” Hughes said.

And there is a descendant of hockey royalty taking to the ice for the Lancers.

“Well we have Jake Gilmour on the team,” he said. “He’s young, grade 10, but he’s a good-sized boy and he plays bigger than his father (Doug), at least in height.”

Youth movement aside, Chambers is taking the laissez-faire approach to the season.

“We’ve got a good combination, but as far as keeping up with the rest of the league, the season will unfold as it will,” he said. “This is more of a school thing and builds some camaraderie amongst the boys.

“From what I understand our division has always been strong,” he added. “Northern has traditionally been a good team. Malvern has been traditionally good.”

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