If you followed Brock Men’s Hockey last season, you would remember that they had a very stressful season. Most games usually started in the Badgers favor, but by the end of the games, they would usually end up losing by a last minute goal from the opposing teams. But this was to be expected, as the men’s Head Coach Murray Nystrom expressed that last season was a transitional year for his team as he had many rookies on the roster, while also being served a fair share of injured players throughout the seasons.
But this season Nytrom is hoping that it is going to be different this year. While the team has added some impressive players to the roster, they have just recently added a new coaching staff to the lineup as well.
Due to personal reasons, long-time assistant coach Mike Mcdonald left his position with the Badgers.
Nystrom spoke on the matter with Brock News saying, “Mike was an incredible resource for our team and he evolved tremendously as a coach.”
With the position now open, former ECHL veteran and AHL coach Nick Vitucci jumped on the opening and it the Badgers new full-time assistant coach.
Surely this is an impressive grab by the Badgers, Nystrom expressed his excitement and appreciation with Brock News saying, “An incredible amount of work and support from Neil Lumsden and Chris Critelli helped make this position possible,” said Nystrom. “Slowly, more CIS hockey teams are expanding their coaching staffs to enhance the competitive environment for their players. It says a lot about Brock’s direction, that we are ahead of many programs across the country with this addition.”
48-year-old Vitucci is a Welland native who brings extensive playing and coaching experience at a professional level to the Badgers. This is potentially exactly what coach Nystrom is looking for as he re-structures his team.
But the excitement goes both ways as Vitucci is also excited to start his assistant coaching career with the Badgers.
“My family and I are very excited to be joining the Brock Badgers family,” said Vitucci to Brock News. “I have been fortunate at the professional level to coach a number of players that have come through the Brock University program. The Badgers staff has done a nice job in developing great hockey players and, more importantly, great people. This is an exciting step for me and my hockey career and I look forward to representing Brock University.”
But the latest addition to the team doesn’t stop there. Also added to the men’s team roster were some former Badgers as well.
CJ Dickson, who played for Brock between 2009 and 2014 returns as an assistant coach. Joining Dickson will be Chris McLean, who will act as a defenseman development coach through the year. McLean was part of the Badgers OUA West championship team that competed in the 2008 Queen’s Cup game and CIS National Championship in Moncton.
The hockey team is now in full swing as training camp officially opened for the Badgers on Sunday, August 28 with registration, fitness evaluation and meetings. The players hit the ice for the first time the following day. The week of tryouts will culminate in an intra-squad game on Saturday, September 3, beginning at 11:00 a.m. at the Seymour Hannah Centre.
The Badgers first game will be the annual Steel Blade Classic which takes place on Friday, September 16 at 7:00 p.m. at the Meridian Centre. Tickets are available at steelbladeclassic.com
Connor Allen, Sports Editor