By Jeff Morris, Manotick Messenger
[dropcap]T[/dropcap]Tryouts don’t start until Sept. 1, and the regular season doesn’t get underway until October, but Richmond Royals head coach Shawn Couturier is excited about the upcoming Central Canada Hockey League Tier 2 Junior Hockey League season.
After two years of rebuilding, Couturier says the Royals have the foundation to compete in the CCHL2 circuit.
“Our expectations are for a big improvement from last year,” Couturier said. “We have gone two years straight with few returning players and this year we have the opportunity to have quite a few players back in our lineup and we are excited about that for many reasons. They know what to expect and we know what to expect from them. They also have built up team chemistry to start the season. I expect to compete in every game and to be in a playoff position throughout the year.”
Among the returning veterans Couturier will be counting on for leadership and strong play is North Gower defenceman Patrick Yates.
“Patrick Yates is his 4th and final season with the Royals,” Couturier said. “Patrick is the team captain and leads by example with great effort every game.”
Couturier added that last year’s team scoring leader, Adam Goodfellow, will also be a key veteran on the team.
“Adam is in his third year in Tier 2 and has shown tremendous improvement every year,” Couturier said.
Couturier added that Willem Brandt, who led Royals’ defensemen in scoring last year as a rookie, showed great improvement and attention to detail the whole season last year.
Couturier spent his childhood playing minor hockey with Kanata and spent much of his time watching the Kanata Valley Lasers. He went on to play over 200 games at the Tier 1 level with the Kanata Valley Lasers and with the Cumberland Grads where he had the opportunity to play with some future NHL players such as Darroll Powe, Marc Methot and Claude Giroux. Couturier’s goal is to help bring back some “once exciting Junior B Hockey to Richmond by creating a fun and exciting atmosphere at the rink mixed with a local competitive hockey team.”
One of Couturier’s assistant coaches is well-known to the local hockey community. Jake Oliver grew up playing hockey in Richmond and lives in the area.
“Jake would currently be recognized in the area and especially at Royals Restaurant where he often visits for a great morning breakfast, or he could be seen helping out in the area as a volunteer Firefighter,” Couturier said. “Jake spent six years playing hockey with the Royals starting off with Stittsville as we transitioned the team back to Richmond. In that time Jake finished as a team captain for the last three seasons and helped lead the team to the finals twice. Jake hopes to be back in that position once again but this time behind the bench. Jake holds the record for most games played with the Royals at 275 games played in six seasons.”
Also on Couturier’s staff is Rob Romeo. He played minor hockey in the Ottawa West organization before playing five years of junior hockey. After completing a degree at Carleton University, Rob was the Youth Program and Skill Development Coordinator for the Ottawa Senators Organization. Since leaving the Ottawa Senators organization, Rob has worked for as reporter and producer for TSN as well as coaching skill development and power skating privately. Over his 15 years in hockey skill development, Rob has worked with every level of hockey player: from minor hockey to junior, CIS, NCAA, from Olympic team to NHL professionals. He has also provided skill development and skating technique training through Peak Performance, Next Generation Hockey, Breakaway Elite Women’s Hockey Development and the Complete Hockey Development Centre.
Couturier is anxious to get the 2019-20 season underway.
Our tryouts don’t begin until Sept 1st, but we do expect to have some very strong young local talent playing for us this year,” Couturier said. “We have our eyes on some very fast and skilled players that will be impact players at our level.”