Braves Exceeded Expectations: Coach

Brockville Braves head coach Jesse Winchester says he’s “pretty pleased” with the team’s performance during the 2017-2018 season.

Speaking to BOB FM’s Brock Tufts, He says while the game 7 loss to the Ottawa Jr. Senators is a bitter one, he said the effort shown by the Braves exceeded expectations.

“We lucked out with an amazing group of kids who embraced our mindset of trying to be good every single day. They worked every day towards that goal and we didn’t leave the rink too many days feeling upset with the effort.”

The team fell to the Junior Senators 5-1 on Thursday.

“We went as far as we could.” Winchester said “We lost to a team that’s built for the RBC Cup to contend nationally for a title. So we pushed them to the limit and I’m pretty proud of effort from top to bottom.”

Despite it being his first year coaching, Winchester won the CCHL Coach of the Year award for his work this season. He says he’s lucky to take a lot of his experience from his time in the NHL, but he’s also lucky to have an amazing team to coach.

“They listen, they work, and they have a ton of fun playing the game. They respect the game. And that was probably the big message that I wanted to bring with me leaving the game,” says Winchester. “Just the amount of respect for how hard it is to be good consistently and what goes into that. I think the kids embraced that, and ran with that, and had a whole lot of fun doing it.”

While Winchester is satisfied with the work put through, he’s hoping to keep some key players to build on the successes for next season.

“I think we’ll return some amazing pieces starting in net with Justin Evenson who, in our view, is probably the best goalie in the league. He gave us a chance to win every night.”

Winchester also praises a number of forwards including Eric Faith, Fred Allaire, Phillipe Gilmore and Nicholas Hawkins. The coach also hopes local Brockville player Simon Mack will be able to return after his injury in February. He also praised Zac McMahon who he said stepped up during the playoffs.

Winchester says that while his coaching style can be demanding, he also respects the effort that the players put into the game.

The Brockville Braves finished the regular season with 80 points to gain second place in the Robinson Division. Goalie Justin Everson finished the season with a 27-9 record and a 93% save average.

 

- With files from Trevor Smith-Millar.

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