Chris St-Pierre

For The Community Press

KAPUSKASING – The Kapuskasing Flyers held it’s spring training camp over the course of three days between April 16th and 20th. Players from across the north got a chance to showcase their skills and hopefully nab a spot on what should a very strong team during the next Great North Midget League season.

Many communities along Highway 11 were represented, such as Kapuskasing, Cochrane, Hearst, Moonbeam, Harty, Geraldton and Iroquois Falls. Others came from towns further south such as Dubreuilville and Elliot Lake.

Skaters were treated to a first day of camp lead by former Flyers and QMJHL/OHL players Brandon Clavelle and Zack Dorval. The following sessions consisted of split squad games in order to evaluate each prospect in a more serious setting.

Many convinced new GM and Head Coach Sheldon Reasbeck, including second-year midget goaltender Patrick Boivin. The Sudbury Minor Wolves graduate is described as level-headed and a kid with good work ethic and a great attitude. He most notably played backup to Josh Dubeault during the semi-final series last playoff season against Sudbury’s Nickel Capital Wolves.

Another player was Alex Antoine, brother of former Kap Flyer Justin Antoine, also a graduate of the Sudbury Minor Wolves. According to Reasbeck, the power forward will hopefully bring leadership to the locker room along with his great passing.

Closer to home ice, Cochrane-native Martin Papineau of the Hearst Midget BB Lumberkings earned a spot on the blueline. He’s described as a calm and confident defender that has no problem getting in front of the net to block shots.

Of the veterans to return, names include goalie Josh Dubeault, defensemen Ryan Maynard, Alexis Gendron, Kyle Trottier, Justin Carrière and forwards Jakob Beauvais, Dawson Linklater, Brendan Aubertin, Carlo Smokowich Jr., Patrick Gagnon, Justin Alary and Zach Dubé.

Some announcements were also made concerning the management and coaching staff. Reasbeck’s right-hand man as assistant manager for the upcoming season will be Jimmy Côté, who over the past few years acted as photographer for the NOJHL’s Hearst Lumberjacks.

Behind the bench, it was confirmed that former Flyers GM Darren Potvin would make his return as assistant coach after being suspended indefinitely days before last season’s playoffs. Following his resignation as GM in late March, the Community Press had a story planned for the following week, allowing Potvin to explain his decision. Then things went dark due to upcoming changes that could lead to his return.

His suspension was apparently terminated after the passing of the OHF Championships held from April 12th to 14th. According to the rules of the NOHA and the Ontario Hockey Federation, once the season spanning from August to said tournaments is completed, teams are allowed to start planning for the next year. If Potvin wished to return to the team, he was free to do so as of April 15th. However, it took a little convincing in order to get him back on the train.

“Family has always been number one and nothing has changed there. On my end, there’s going to be a lot of juggling between my personal life and hockey next year. My intention when resigning was to not return. I had other plans in mind for the short and long term. But the opportunity was there for me to continue,” explains Potvin. “I had a discussion with Glen (Denney) at the end of the season to say that I’m not coming back. I said ‘if you’re returning as head coach or taking control of the team, you’ll need to find a general manager or assistant-manager,’ and we both had made our intentions very clear. When they posted the job offer for the GM & Head Coach position, Sheldon Reasbeck approached me and asked me to join him because of my experience. At first, I told him ‘No. I’m not doing it with Glen, so I won’t do it with you. I want to step away from the game and focus on other things.’

Once Reasbeck had left to coach team Serbia at the U-18 Division II B World Championships, the proposition had time to simmer in Potvin’s mind.

“When he came back from Serbia, he had his interview for the position and he approached me a second time,” he continues. “He explained what his plans were and what he his vision was for the team. It gave me that excitement, the passion to come back, especially so considering the squad we’ll have on the ice. I think I said this to a parent during training camp, I’m anxious for August to come around. And it’s rare someone would say that because it means winter is coming. I’m looking forward to it, let’s get going. I think with the support of the community; we will have something special in Kapuskasing.”

This time around, things will be different for the former GM as he returns behind the bench for the second stint in his career with the Flyers. More signings are to be announced over the coming weeks as the next GNML hockey season nears.