When Doug Quinn stepped away from coaching the Red Deer Optimist Chiefs following the 2013-14 Alberta Midget Hockey League season he needed a break to handle business commitments.
But two years away was enough for him and his assistant coaching staff.
“It’s been a busy couple of years for me outside of hockey, but when Red Deer Minor Hockey contacted me about coming back they didn’t have to push that hard. I was excited and so was the rest of my coaching staff. Basically we have had the same group for a number of years. We have fun together. They’re all great coaches and good friends.”
Quinn has Al Parada, Rob Hamill, Mike Moller and Stephen Pattison on his staff along with goalie coach Peter Friestad. Jeff Wallace is the trainer and Ken Frame the manager.
During his time away, Quinn kept in touch with the program, so he had an idea of the talent on this year’s edition of the Chiefs.
“I watched a few games … I enjoy it,” he said. “I certainly missed it, but we all needed a break. Still we had so much fun with it … we all enjoy working with the kids.
“Besides I need some positive energy in my life. The last couple of years hasn’t been great in the oil industry. So this is a good release for me.”
The Chiefs have eight players back from last year, which certainly is a benefit.
“Having anyone who played in this league is a big advantage,” he said. “We have a good core to build off of. This is a tough league and having players with experience is a huge advantage.”
Goaltender Justin Travis, defencemen Dayton Playford, Luke Bast and Adam Sandstrom and forwards Jeff McNeil, Levi Gladman, Joel Ray and Tyrees Goodrunning are returning.
Forward Deegan Mofford is the lone player up from bantam AAA while forwards Ryan McBeath and Hayden Clayton and rearguards Ethan Schlag and Kyle Budverson are all 16. Forward Jackson Zimmerman played in Ontario while defenceman Beaudon Rider came in from Lacombe and goaltender Levi Mitchell from Olds.
Seventeen-year-old forwards Dylan Scheunert, Nathan Dyck and Justin Paarup round out the roster.
Quinn has always build a team that starts slow and builds as the season progresses. Nothing has changed.
“I’ve been happy so far, although we didn’t have a lot of success in our first preseason tournament. But at the end of the day we’re not trying to be the best team in October, but one of the top teams at the end of the year. This is a process and we’re working on trying to develop all the kids and peak at the right time.”
Quinn has also believed in using four lines and six defencemen. He feels it wears teams down.
“We talk about trying to put a lot of pressure on the other teams defence,” he said. “We may not be rewarded in the first period, but we try to wear them down in the first and second so that we gain the benefit in the third period.”
The Chiefs split their opening two regular season games, winning 6-2 at home against the Calgary Northstars and losing 6-2 in Calgary against the Royals.
“We still have a lot of things we need to do and to do better and improve, but we will,” he said.
The Chiefs are on the road next weekend as they visit the Edmonton Optimists on Saturday and Grande Prairie on Sunday. They return home Oct. 15 against the Edmonton Gregg Distributors at 4:30 p.m. at the Kinex. They also host Fort Saskatchewan Oct. 16 at 4 p.m.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can also be seen at Danny’s blog at rdcathletics.ca