NOJHL preseason preview: Cochrane Crunch



Release Date: Sunday, August 21, 2016

NOJHL preseason preview: Cochrane Crunch

SUDBURY, Ont. – Not one to rest on his laurels and continually maximizing his efforts to improve the fortunes of his Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League club, Cochrane Crunch president, general manager and head coach Ryan Leonard has once again been busy during the off-season.

Be it hitting the road on recruiting efforts to making deals to add to his line-up or preparing heavily to host the first-ever Polar Bear Classic five-team preseason tournament in Cochrane, Leonard will do what it takes to bring a NOJHL championship to his northern Ontario community.

Taking time out of his hectic schedule, the main man of the Crunch offered his thoughts in this, the latest NOJHL team preseason preview.


Head Coach/GM: Ryan Leonard

NOJHL: How has the off-season recruiting gone for Cochrane so far?

RYAN LEONARD: The Crunch have been busy recruiting all summer. One thing you can expect this year from the Crunch is experience and size. We will be big and have a lot of offense again.

NOJHL: What will you be looking for from your defensive corps this season?

RL: We will not be shy of our defensive play as we return four of our top six defencemen from last season. We are expecting third-year defencemen and captain Connor Lovie to have big season and am looking for big things out of second-year vet Taylor Ambruster.

NOJHL: You lost a lot of your offensive punch up front from last season with player’s moving on to the NCAA as well as the departure of league MVP Hunter Atchison to the 2017 RBC Cup host Cobourg Cougars of the OJHL. What has been done to help replace your offense that led the NOJHL in goals in 2015-16?

RL: Up front we have been heavy on recruiting and replacing our scoring from last year, as we lost it all. We, on paper, might have a higher scoring team then we have had in the past. We will be relying a lot on Brandon McReynolds and Braeden Cross who both finished their seasons off last year in the BCHL. Brandon was with Alberni Valley and Braeden was with Victoria. Then we also will put a lot of pressure on Konnar Dechaine, who was leading scorer last year in English River in SIJHL. All three guys are 20-year-old vets and we are looking for big things from these guys.

NOJHL: What will your goaltending look like this season with the departure of second team CCM Hockey NOJHL all-star Brett Young, who is off to the NCAA?

RL: We went out and got two capable starting goalies. One from B.C. is Leighton Williams who will be entering his fourth year of Junior. We also then picked up a highly recommended goalie from the Minnesota High School Hockey league in Makaio Goods who is from Duluth, Minn.

NOJHL: How is the club looking as you entered training camp, which began this weekend?

RL: We started camp this weekend with 34 players, including all our veterans. We’re looking to sign two more players as we are at 22, who have committed right now. We will practice and play exhibition game on the 26th in Iroquois Falls and get organized as we want to be ready for our big game vs Kingston of the OJHL on September 1 at 8 p.m. here in Cochrane for our first game of the Polar Bear Cup.

NOJHL: What are your expectations as you head into 2016-17?

RL: We had an excellent season last year, but fell short in Division final. I think this year we will be a lot more prepared and a lot more rounded as a whole as we will be probably the oldest team in the NOJHL.

Friday, Aug. 26 @ Iroquois Falls 7:30 p.m. (Jus Jordan Arena)
* Thursday, Sept. 1 vs. Kingston (OJHL) 8 p.m. (Tim Horton Event Centre)
* Friday, Sept. 2 vs. Iroquois Falls 10 a.m. (Tim Horton)
* Friday, Sept. 2 vs. Espanola 8:30 p.m. (Tim Horton)
* Saturday, Sept. 3 vs. Kirkland Lake 6 p.m. (Tim Horton)
* Sunday, Sept. 4 T.B.A. – Polar Bear Cup (Tim Horton)

  • Denotes Polar Bear Cup preseason tournament @ Cochrane