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Braves looking to be better – Recorder & Times

Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times

Those who don’t learn history are doomed to repeat it and the Brockville Braves are hoping to learn from last year’s mistakes in hopes of not repeating their results.

The Braves finished sixth in the regular season and then saw an early exit in the playoffs against the Ottawa Jr. Senators in the first round last year.

Getting rid of that salty taste in their mouth started Monday with the team’s training camp, which takes place all week in Cardinal.

Brockville always seemed to be missing something in 2016-17. The pieces might have been there, but something never connected.

It would be easy to point to late-season injuries for their problems, but the Braves never seemed to find that push where they could overcome late-game adversity on a regular basis. Almost half of Brockville’s games were decided by a single goal last year and they finished with a 15-18 record in those matchups.

It would be easy to blame the Braves offence, finishing ninth in goals scored and shutout seven times, but the problem was deeper than that with Brockville constantly throwing pucks on the net with no one in front of the opposing goaltender to clean-up any rebound. That was one routine you could count on.

So, what exactly went wrong for Brockville? “Definitely, compete. For sure.

We didn’t go in the dirty area, we didn’t work hard enough last year. Everyone was too easy on themselves. In my mind we worried about other stuff before we were worried about the ice and our play,” said Braves defenceman Andrew Jarvis. “We worried about what we were going to do after practice, like as a team what are we going to do. We have to come focused to practice. We have to pay attention to detail. We have to sweat in practice, that’s what helps. Sweating now is going to be just as good as in the playoffs. It’s all one big season and it starts now.”

Jarvis pointed to a clear example on the first day of camp to show the difference between now and then with scrimmage games played with teams made up of prospective Braves, Tikis and U18 players. The games, though, were getting cut short to do bag skates to close out each session.

They weren’t doing that sort of thing last year, no matter how desperate things looked at times.

“I don’t think the work ethic was there,” said second-year Braves forward Matt Halle. “Last year we had the group of guys to do something special, but I think we need to work a lot harder and come together as a team.”

If you talk to just about anyone who followed the team last year or to Braves staff, they’ll tell you the club was missing some serious grit to their game.

The veterans – which there are only five returning players this season – are making sure toughness is going to be instilled in this season’s teams from top to bottom.

Returnees like Jarvis and Jonathan Hill didn’t slow their pace or their physical presence at training camp just because their spots are sealed on the Braves roster with the typically upbeat Hill turning serious when asked if he was setting the tone at camp.

“Of course. Always,” Hill said. “I think last year we got pushed around in the beginning and it kind of prolonged to the end of the season,” he added. “So, definitely we got to make a name for ourselves and have that physical presence early.”

Hill played in the first game of training camp Monday and was pushing prospects that came anywhere near the puck. It’s never too early to start showing the example.

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