Coach Jeff Dubois chats with players prior to a Glacier Kings game. Photo by Mike Chouinard

Big task ahead for Comox Valley Glacier Kings new coach/GM

Jeff Dubois has hit the ground running as the new head coach/general manager of the Comox Valley Glacier Kings, leading the junior B hockey team through four practices and five games in 12 days.

He took over coaching duties from Jordan Kamprath 12 games into the season. During that time, the Yetis have mustered just one point in an overtime loss.

“It will take a bit of time here,” said Dubois, who was assistant coach/GM the last two seasons with the BCHL’s Alberni Valley Bulldogs. “I’m doing the evaluation process now that you would usually do through a main camp and exhibition games in August. It’s different, but the guys have been receptive, and they’ve been working hard. For a group that hasn’t had a ton of success in terms of wins and losses, they’ve been very positive, and seem to be motivated to turn it around. That’s all you can ask.”

This is the second time Dubois has been a junior B head coach/GM. In 2014, he was behind the bench in Creston in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League.

“It was a different situation. I took over a program that had gone to the conference finals the year before.”

Dubois has also won two league championships in the B.C. Intercollegiate Hockey League as head coach at Selkirk College.

“The easiest way to establish a good culture is to have success,” he said. “Then you can lean on things you’re doing well that are contributing to that success. It’s much different when you come into an organization that hasn’t been getting the results you want, and building that from the ground up.”

Which starts with daily work habits and attitude — and what players bring to the rink each day for practice.

“I think one thing that’s clear early on is the guys aren’t happy with where they’re at in the standings. They want to win. For the older guys, they’ve been here a couple of years. They’re very motivated to turn this around and have some success…The goal is to be a little better each day than we were the day before.”

This year’s lineup does not contain as many rookies as last season, but the Glacier Kings are nevertheless a young squad.

First-year forward Ryan Whitehead is one of three 20-year-olds on the team. Forward Noah Goyer, also 20, sustained an injury in the first game of the season.

“We have a lot of rookie kids we’re counting on to play bigger roles,” Dubois said.

Previous head coach Jordan Kamprath had predicted that second-year forward Tanner Roberts would have a breakout season. After 17 games, the centre from Port Alice leads the team with seven goals and five assists. Fellow centre Jordan Neufeld is second with 10 points. Damian Rennie, the team’s top scorer last season, is again captain.

“We’ve had a tough time putting the puck in the net, so I’ve been looking to see where there’s some chemistry between a couple of guys or on a line,” Dubois said.

Friday in Campbell River, the Storm beat the Glacier Kings 10-3. Saturday at home, the Yetis lost 5-2 to the Peninsula Panthers, who lead the VIJHL South Division.

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The Yetis’ next game is Friday at home against the Oceanside Generals, who sit atop the VIJHL North division.

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