DEER LAKE Ed Kearsey believes the Western Royals will be a contender if the franchise can build a strong back end for the 2013-2014 season.
Kearsey, a Corner Brook native who now calls Deer Lake home, confirmed earlier this week he will be returning as head coach of the Western Royals in the provincial senior hockey league.
A steady performer for the Royals in his heyday who has won a Herder as coach of the former Corner Brook Royals, Kearsey believes management securing the services of import goalie Bryan Gillis for another season is a step in the right direction. But, he has encouraged management to add some solid defenceman to support the acrobatics of his puckstopper who joined forces with local product Brad Dyke last season.
“I think he ranks up there with the other top goalies in the league like (A. J.) Whiffen and (Jason) Churchill,” Kearsey said.
Looking back on last season, Kearsey believes the Royals had a good core of offensive players up front to put the puck in the net, but just couldn’t get the job done on the other side of the puck.
“We just weren’t strong in our end,” he said.
Kearsey said he’s pleased with some of the things he’s been hearing with regards to the recruitment efforts of team president Ross Coates, but he didn’t want to discuss any of the details because negotiations are ongoing with possible additions through import cards and/or trades.
He said wants the Royals to add a couple of defenders who focus energy on getting the puck out of harm’s way, but he also hopes the mix will include a guy or two with the ability to lead the rush or join the attack when situations warrant. He realizes quality defenders are hard to find, but he’s confident Coates will have some good news as negotiations with players who could fill the void have heated up in the last couple of weeks.
“We’re on the same page, but the reality is it’s hard to find good defencemen. They’re hard to come by,” he said, noting the son of a former goalie in provincial senior hockey circles is high on the radar in the quest for stud defencemen but wouldn’t divulge his identity.
He said the Royals can turn things around with the right mix of players. He believes there is a lot of parity in the league, which is something he applauds, but he said the CeeBees wining the Herder last year after battling on the last day of the regular season to earn a playoff spot tells him a few key additions could make a huge difference this time around.
“A couple of players can make the difference. Anybody can win this league as it was shown last year,” he said.