A program will be a necessity for those attending a Trenton Golden Hawks’ game this coming season. That’s because the Ontario Junior Hockey League squad will be vastly different from the one iced a year ago.
A total of 17 players that donned a Trenton jersey during the 2012-13 campaign have either moved up to the NCAA ranks or to a Canadian university club.
Despite having just a handful of returnees to work with, Golden Hawks’ president/assistant GM John McDonald is remaining rather upbeat.
For the most part that is since former NHL blueliner Jerome Dupont is returning for his third year to serve as the Golden Hawks’ coach/GM.
“This man has a way of putting a team together,” McDonald said of Dupont. “When I see what Jerome does, I get blown away.”
Dupont, who played a total of 234 NHL contests during the ’80s, primarily with the Chicago Blackhawks, had plenty of regular season success during his first two seasons in Trenton.
“My first year with Jerome, two years ago, we had nothing,” said McDonald, who also wears yet another hat with the organization as the director of business operations. “We probably had two kids coming back.”
Yet the Golden Hawks proceeded to win 36 out of their 49 regular season contests and placed atop the standings in the league’s East Division.
Despite yet another major rebuilding job last year, Dupont led Trenton to the best over-all record in the OJHL. The Golden Hawks emerged victorious in 40 out of their 55 regular season tilts.
But all of those connected with the Trenton organization have not had much to smile about during the past couple of post-seasons. Two years ago the Golden Hawks had received an opening-round playoff bye. Then Trenton, the East Division’s top seed, was upset by the sixth-ranked Kingston Voyageurs 4-2 in its best-of-seven series. As for last year, the Golden Hawks entered the playoffs as the Number 1 seed in the North-East Conference.
But Trenton failed to win a single playoff game and was swept in the minimum four matches by the eighth-ranked Cobourg Cougars in its best-of-seven conference quarter-final series.
“From a management point of view, that’s not very nice,” said McDonald, adding he’d prefer to have had more home playoff contests the last two years since the Golden Hawks are one of the league’s best-drawing teams. “We’d like to go further.”
Heading into the season the Golden Hawks’ brass is not sure whether one player they are hoping will provide some leadership will even be with the club.
Forward Loren Ulett is expected to be one of the 44 players that show up for Trenton’s training camp, which starts Aug. 19.
But Ulett will leave the squad shortly after that as he has also been invited to an Ontario Hockey League camp, with the Kingston Frontenacs. Even if Ulett does not crack the Frontenacs’ roster there is no guarantee he’ll return to the Golden Hawks as a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team is also apparently interested in his services.
The Golden Hawks are expected to have some additional local talent this year. Among those trying out for the club are several players that helped Trenton minor hockey teams win all-Ontario midget and juvenile championships earlier this year.
“The spots are there,” McDonald said of the local players vying for a position in the Trenton lineup. “It’s up to them to make the team.”