Braves will focus on development: Coach

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It was what Randy Jones had expected.

The head coach of the Brockville Braves got the chance to interact with the players in person for the first time since before Christmas.

The holiday break ended up continuing for several weeks after the provincial government imposed a lockdown and an emergency stay-at-home order in response to higher numbers of COVID-19 cases. Stay-at-home was lifted in Leeds, Grenville and Lanark on Tuesday. The Jr. A team returned to the Memorial Centre to resume practices on Thursday.

“They looked like they were off for two months,” Jones remarked in an interview.

The coach explained that it was important for the players to be together again and resume a “team atmosphere” on their first day back from the extended break.

“It was a step,” he said.

Jones was looking forward to the Friday afternoon practice as well as inter-squad scrimmages on Friday night that included the Jr. B Tikis.


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With this week’s return to the ice and in the continuing absence of a regular season because of COVID-19, the CCHL is implementing a 12-week program that will run well into May. The hope is that teams will be able to play multiple opponents rather than the pairings that were in place throughout the fall.

“My focus is solely on the players and their development,” Jones said. “Try to salvage as much as you can of an up-and-down season from playing and not playing … to really want to achieve as much critical development as you can in such an unfortunate year,” the head coach said.

Since there won’t be playoffs or a championship trophy awarded this spring, Jones believes that each and every player should have a similar focus.

He said that a big reason that the league has made such a big push to have games this spring is to provide a showcase for the 20-year-olds whose junior careers are nearing an end. It’s not just the graduating players hoping to land spots on university teams who can make use of the opportunity, according to Jones. There are players in their draft year or who “want to open up some doors for themselves,” he noted.

Brockville’s first scrimmage after the extended break is slated to be with Kemptville next Friday. Even though attendance at indoor games is currently limited to 50 as is the case in Brockville and some municipalities are not allowing any spectators, all of the CCHL scrimmages have been and will be televised by HockeyTV.


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“That’s where the benefit of technology comes into play,” Jones said. “There’s a lot of eyes watching.”

Most of the Braves returned from the extended break, but there were a few exceptions.

Among them is Josh Barnes, who was recently traded to Cranbrook of the BCHL; in return for the forward, Brockville received a future consideration and a player development fee, according to GM Dustin Traylen. Barnes went from Cornwall to Brockville in mid-season last year and was the Braves’ top scorer this past fall during the team’s no-contact scrimmages with the Colts that had official stats posted.

Defenceman Josh Cole did not return; he is focusing on his education and a career interest, Traylen said.

“We wish him well,” the GM added.

The Tikis also resumed practices this week, but how the remainder of the EOJHL Jr. B season will proceed remains unclear.

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