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Dynamiters head coach talks Mowat Cup preparation

Dynamiters head coach says the team chemistry has never been higher. Paul Rodgers file.

Mowat Cup week has arrived, with opening ceremonies and the first games of the tournament kicking off on Thursday, April 18. The Bulletin reached out to Kimberley Dynamiters head coach and general manager Derek Stuart to discuss how the team has been preparing and what it means for Kimberley to host this tournament.

READ MORE: Kimberley ready to host Mowat Cup

For the first time since 2013, the Dynamiters were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs on February 29. The team had some time off before getting back to work in March.

While it certainly wasn’t the results the team wanted or expected, Stuart said the break has allowed him to get started on recruiting for next season earlier than usual, and given the players a chance to bond off the ice.

“I’ve been doing a lot of recruiting stuff, when we haven’t been practicing and doing things to get ready,” he said. “A lot of, I guess, administration work, just mainly getting the guys doing something during the day and things like that, but a lot of recruiting.

“I guess if there is any benefit to getting knocked out early, it’s that you can recruit earlier, but it’s not a good trade off, I’d have rather kept playing. But it’s been fun, I’ve been watching quite a bit of the other leagues’ finals, so it was busy.”

READ MORE: Dynamiters’ playoff run comes to a heartbreaking end in the first round

He said that the priority for March was physical training, focusing on the compete, battle and conditioning of his players, before shifting to focusing on structure and systems in April. Stuart said the messaging to the players has been clear: forget what happened during the season and playoffs, and focus on this coming weekend. He said the boys are into it.

“Team-bonding wise this has been great,” Stuart said. “If there is a benefit from getting knocked out early is you have a lot of time to bond and do things away from the rink and they’ve done a lot of things together away from the rink. Some of it’s organized, some of it they just took it upon themselves. So I think in terms of team chemistry it’s probably the strongest it’s been all year right now.”

He added that there are a lot of veterans on the current roster who know what to expect heading into this weekend.

“I think we have 12 guys that were in this tournament last year and know what to expect, so it’s just a matter of getting everyone else in line and letting them know what to expect so there’s as few surprises as possible.”

Derek also acknowledged the community and fans that support the team and pack the Civic Centre every game.

“You look at a tournament like this at any level, major, junior or CJHL, they very rarely give it to a weak team or a team that doesn’t deserve it, so there’s a reason we got awarded this tournament and the fans are a big part of it for sure,” he said. “Our committee did an outstanding job putting the bid together and that’s something else that we talked to the team about is the pride and all the hard work that’s going into this tournament away from the arena that is being done.

“So there’s a certain level of responsibility to go out and do your best and work your hardest as well, just because a lot of people are doing that off the ice for us as well.”

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