| Nov 13, 2008

Nov 13/08 - Flyers Soar to New Heights

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Feature Article - November 13, 2008 The Frontenac Flyers soar to new heightsBy Julie Druker

Flyers head coach Rob Lalonde and team members pre warm up at the NFCA where they took on the Napanee Raiders on Sunday.

Looking for some great live entertainment on a Sunday afternoon? Jump on the rising star of the Frontenac Flyers, the local Junior C hockey team that has made a huge turnaround this season after holding the fuzzy end of the lollypop for many previous seasons.

This season the team has won 7 games and lost 6, 3 more wins than their last season’s total.

On Sunday afternoon, (November 9) they took on the leading team in the league, the Napanee Raiders, and put up a great fight; the score stood at 2:1 for Napanee at the end of the second period. Going into the third period, it was anyone’s game.

While Napanee out-shot the Flyers roughly 2 to 1, kudos go to goalie Patrick Tohill who made save after save to keep the Flyers within the range of a win.

Before the game, head coach Rob Lalonde, a former Phys Ed teacher at SLHS for 7 years who also ran a high school hockey program at the North Frontenac Community Arena while teaching there, said “Napanee is a tough team, they’re number one and their power play is really good, but I feel confident. Every game we go into is a winnable one and the boys believe that now and I think they’re looking forward to it – they’re riding on a high from yesterday’s 5:0 win against Colborne.”

This was the third time these two teams have met this season and at both previous games the Raiders managed to shut the Flyers out.

Napanee’s head coach Jacques Tremblay went into the game taking nothing for granted. “We’re playing a good team this year. We have to really perform well to beat them. The coaching behind their bench has made a big difference and their attitude seems to be a winning one. We know that when we come here we have to really earn a win. I tell my guys: ‘We are not there yet’”.

The lead up to the Flyers’ turnaround indeed began from the top down. In reaction to the dreadful state of affairs the Flyers had fallen into since 2002, Jim Stinson, the NFCA’s manager, decided it was time to take action.

He approached the Flyers’ committee early last year and encouraged interested members of the community to step up to the plate.

As a result, early in 2007, Paul Tohill signed on as the team’s president and Jim insists that the team’s major turnaround, “can be attributed to Paul Tohill and all of the people on the committee who stepped forward”.

Tohill then used his knowledge and connections to assemble the team’s coaching staff. “I knew Rob Lalonde through our sons who played minor hockey together and I knew he had great hockey background”. Lalonde coached the Queen’s University Women’s team for years, “and he has great teaching and communication skills,” Tohill said.

Lalonde then suggested his brother-in-law Mike Jodoin as offensive coach and Jodoin joined the staff along with defensive and assistant coach Steve Fisher, whose daughter plays defense for a college team in the States.

The three coaches seem to be all on the same page and the results? Well the proof is in the pudding as they say.

President Tohill is busy trying to rustle up sponsors for this team, which has the playoffs in their sights - something that hasn’t happened for the last 3 years.

The final period of Sunday’s game proved to be pretty controversial. Napanee’s last two goals that clinched their win 4:1 was pretty emotional. to say the least. So much so in fact that Coach Lalonde was kicked off the bench after receiving two bench penalties which resulted in the Raiders’ two power play goals that ended in the Raiders win.

The Flyers coaches and fans felt that the penalties were one sided towards Napanee and as a result emotions were running pretty high by the time the final buzzer sounded.

The bottom line: the Flyers are definitely a team to be reckoned with and it is no fluke but rather a joining of forces and positive attitudes that has trickled down to the players and infused this year’s Flyers with pretty lofty but definitely reachable goals.

The Flyers will be hosting a fundraising dance and silent auction at the Verona Lions’ Hall on November 22, and former as well as current players will be in attendance. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the NFCA in Piccadilly, Verona’s Rona Hardware or by calling Heather Fox at 374-2168.

Anyone whose interest in local junior hockey has waned in past years would not be disappointed in revisiting a sport and a local team that is most definitely on the rise.

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