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Maroons introduce seven rookies at signing ceremony

By Mark Malone, Chatham Daily News

Chatham Maroons head coach Kyle Makaric, centre, has a coaching staff that includes assistants Andrew Donaldson, left, and Brett Hope. Photo taken in Chatham, Ont., on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (MARK MALONE/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network)

Chatham Maroons head coach Kyle Makaric, centre, has a coaching staff that includes assistants Andrew Donaldson, left, and Brett Hope. Photo taken in Chatham, Ont., on Sunday, June 24, 2018. (MARK MALONE/Chatham Daily News/Postmedia Network)

Win now and win later.

That's the goal for new Chatham Maroons head coach Kyle Makaric, who's taking over a team that has welcomed a dozen new players this off-season.

Seven 2001-born newcomers – forwards Evan Wells, Cameron Welch, Lucas Fancy, Zach Power and Josh DiCarlo, defenceman Jack Zekelman and goalie Adam Harris – attended a signing ceremony Sunday at Chatham Memorial Arena.

They're part of the youth movement Makaric spoke about with president and general manager Bill Szekesy and assistant GM Kevin Fisher before being hired.

“We had talked about having a core of players that we could grow with and try to win that way,” Makaric said. “We targeted the 2001s as a very deep age group with character and with talent. The players that we've started with here today are the cream of the crop of that group.

“These are guys that are going to be here, they're going to find their role, they're going to carve out their spot on the team and they're going to learn, they're going to develop and they're going to be here when we have success in the short-term and they're going to still be here when we have success in the long-term.”

The chances for short-term success received a big lift when the Maroons acquired three 20-year-old forwards – Nolan Gardiner, Sean O'Brien and Eddie Schulz – from the Caledonia Corvairs in May.

“You get three guys like that, it automatically brings more credibility to your lineup, it brings some offence, it brings some leadership, it brings some veteran presence,” Makaric said. “Those guys want to win. They came here to win. Our expectation is to have a really successful season in terms of developing these young guys and having a pretty good swan song for these older guys.”

The Maroons also picked up 20-year-old defenceman Matthew Murray from the Blind River Beavers. Their other rookie is 18-year-old forward Vincent DeSanctis.

Neither Makaric nor Fisher expects any more commitments before training camp in August.

Assistant coach Brett Hope likes the rookies on and off the ice.

“Like Kyle said, … you look for personality first and then the hockey player will come later,” Hope said. “We've got some really good kids here and a good few older kids that have come in, so we'll let them learn from those guys and pave the way. Then these young kids can take over after that.”

The signing ceremony was as much for the families as for the players. Some parents were meeting for the first time, so they had a chance to sit down for lunch and chat.

“It's a moment for all the families to get together and know each other,” said Hope, an ex-Maroon who also played for the St. Thomas Stars and at Buffalo State. “I know when I went away to college or went to St. Thomas, my parents came to the rink (and) they didn't know any other families. They came to the game, they sat by themselves, talked to me after and they left.

“In college, we did a family thing after Saturday's games and they knew other families and they wanted to come more because they knew more people.”

Some rookies already know each other. Wells, Welch, DiCarlo and Zekelman were teammates on the Windsor Midget Jr. Spitfires last season, and Fancy is a longtime friend of Wells and Welch.



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