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Braves are ‘deep’ heading into training camp: Jones – Recorder & Times

Tim Ruhnke – Recorder & Times

He’s optimistic, but he’s also aware that one never knows what’s going to happen.

Brockville head coach Randy Jones is hopeful as the Jr. A Braves and the other teams in the CCHL start getting ready for the 2021-2022 regular season slated to open Sept. 23. Six full teams hit the ice at Ingredion Centre in Cardinal for the Braves organization prospect camp this past weekend.

“I think it was a breath of fresh air realizing how deep we are in a lot of areas,” Jones said in an interview.

The head coach indicated that he went into the weekend “with an open mind” and not sure what to expect “not really having much of a last year… and some players not being able to play at all.”

Training camp for the Braves opens in Cardinal on Monday.

Jones said the team has “great goaltending” coming back from last season as well as a strong corps of defencemen.

“We’re very, very deep on the back end,” said the head coach, who estimated there were 12 to 14 defencemen on the weekend “that are probably able to jump in and play Jr. A hockey.”

As for the forwards in camp, Jones said there were “a lot of nice surprises we weren’t expecting.”

Credit goes to Braves management such as GM Dustin Traylen and scouts for bringing in the players who took part in the early camp, said Jones.

“That will make us coaches’ and Dusty’s job very difficult when it comes down to the end of training camp and having to make some selections.”

As is usually the case in junior hockey, last year’s leadership group has moved on.

“We wish them nothing but success,” stated Jones, who emphasized that there are returning veterans and newcomers to the program “that are able to step in and take over that role… not just great hockey players; they’re very good people.”

Jones, a retired NHL defenceman, is now in his third year as bench boss in Brockville. The Braves finished 2019-2020 tied for second in points in the 12-team league and won the only playoff game in the CCHL before the pandemic shut down team sports. The Jr. A league was limited to so-called developmental scrimmages with nearby opponents in place of a 2020-2021 regular season.

“I’m remaining optimistic that we keep moving forward in a positive direction,” Jones said of the planned 55-game season as COVID restrictions ease while vaccination rates climb, which was not the case late last summer.

“But I also don’t hold my breath… you never know what’s going to happen nowadays with where this world has become,” he said.

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