Coach believes young squad can turn it around

The Comox Valley Glacier Kings started the season with Joey Ewing behind the bench. He was replaced by Paul Mugford in September, but only for one game.

Since then, Jordan Butcher has been running the show — as he did in 2011/12 when the Yetis compiled a 21-18-3 record to win the VIJHL North Division for the second year in a row. But the squad lost in the opening round of playoffs, and Butcher was released.

He says he has come back to a “completely different situation” as head coach of the junior B hockey team, which had three wins and 21 losses heading into Saturday’s game against the division-leading Campbell River Storm.

“It’s a good group,” Butcher said Thursday, the day after his team lost 8-7 to the Westshore Wolves. “We’re starting to learn how to be more competitive, but we’re struggling to follow through in those final few minutes and get a win…It’s always tough when you’re losing games on a consistent basis, but we have a lot of guys who are still trying to get to the next level, and still working hard day in and day out. It’s slowly coming around, and we still believe we can turn things around and get ourselves back into a playoff situation.”

Butcher — who played for the Glacier Kings from 2004 to 2007 — preaches a hard-working, physical game where his players are first to the puck. If not, then make the opposition pay for beating them there. He believes a more exciting brand of hockey means more fans at games.

“We’ve got a younger team,” he said. “We’re trying to change the culture a little bit, and get guys committed for the right reasons. We’re slowly working on things and getting ourselves in the right position.”

He said Wednesday’s game in Victoria was an “interesting one,” with two disallowed goals in the last minute-and-a-half.

“It was a very frustrating way for the game to go. But all in all the guys played well. They played hard for 60 minutes, and deserved to win that game, but it just didn’t go our way.”

A bright spot Wednesday was the line of Finn Withey, the team scoring leader who registered four points, and rookies Jordan Neufeld and Jacob Kruse, who had three points and two goals, respectively.

Butcher is also happy with the healthy competition between goalies Noah Giesbrecht and Braedyn Funke.

“It creates a nice, competitive balance. They both want to be in the net at all times, which is great.”

A recent three-team deal saw Jake McKenzie traded to the Storm. The Kings acquired rookie defenceman Kevin Parra-Vaughan from the Abbotsford Pilots, and future considerations.

Saturday at the Comox Valley Sports Centre, Brett Kinley’s hat-trick led Campbell River to a 7-0 win over Comox Valley.

The Glacier Kings next game is Friday in Victoria against the Saanich Braves. Saturday they host the Peninsula Panthers, and Sunday they play the Oceanside Generals in a road game.

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