More locals join GMHL Wolves
By Darren Lum
The expansion Haliburton Wolves are adding to their pack with a few more locals that many will recognize from watching the Red Hawks and following the Highland Storm.
Former Red Hawks forward Stewart Chaulk and defenceman Owen Flood are the most recent players from the area to join the team.
Head coach Walt McKechnie is eager to have Chaulk, describing him as a “good skater” who finishes his checks.
After speaking with Wolves captain and his childhood friend, Cole Rowden, who he played minor hockey with, he was convinced to join the Wolves.
“It’s just good to be back on the ice,” he wrote in an email message.
A player with the Red Hawks for three seasons from 2011 until 2014, Chaulk, who was part of teams that competed in the Central Ontario Secondary School Athletics (COSSA) championship and the Ontario Federation Sports Athletic Association (OFSAA) championship, had been living in Red Deer, Alberta working in the gas and oil industry before he returned to the Highlands in May to work for his father.
This season will be first time he will play in front of family and friends since he suited up for the red and white.
“I’m really happy to get another chance to play the sport that means a lot to me,” he wrote.
The Wolves were in need of a defenceman with just two active on the roster.
Flood, who played the last two seasons for the Red Hawks, welcomed the opportunity to meet and play hockey with the the players who are from all over North America and the world, describing it as a “really cool experience.”
“I hope to be able to learn lots and grow as a player. We have good people on the team to learn from. Also having Walt as the coach he knows a lot about the game so he will be able to teach not only myself but the team a lot of good things to take into the ice,” he wrote in an email.
McKechnie said Flood is the “stay at home” defenceman who is “very mobile.”
He loves how the Haliburton teen has great vision and has the ability to quickly move the puck out of the end, whether with his skating or his precise and quick passes.
Flood, who is attending HHSS for a fifth year now, helped the Hawks the past two seasons to win back-to-back COSSA titles, including the an OFSAA bronze medal in 2014. He was a teammate of Wolves centre Curtis Ballantyne and defenceman Jacob Bishop last year, including forward Tanner Hamilton in 2014.
Also, the Wolves have secured the coaching skills of hockey coach Rick Wood.
McKechnie, a retired NHL journeyman from the 1960s to the 1980s, is happy to have his long-time friend Wood join him on the coaching staff as the assistant.
He adds Wood will help provide an extra set of eyes to see things he misses.
Wood shares a similar coaching style that McKechnie describes as “old fashioned hockey.”
The former NHLer describes old fashioned hockey as quick skating and aggressive where players finish their checks. During practices, Wood will work with the defensive corps while McKechnie will work with the forwards. He said he coached with McKechnie, helping a peewee hockey team to an Ontario Minor Hockey Associaiton championship close to 25 years ago.
The recent player additions couldn’t come at a better time, as the team has lost three players last week.
It started with Connor Sikma, who was injured skating through the neutral zone with a knee-on-knee collision against the Sturgeon Falls Lumberjacks on Sept. 24.
McKechnie said Sikma could be back later this week.
Other injuries include Zack Thorsen, who broke his wrist in Parry Sound on Sept. 26. He’s expected to be out at least four more weeks while forward Nick Hunter, who hyper extended his elbow, is expected back and is day-to-day.
McKechnie said it’s what every team goes through, likening it to a cycle of injuries and non-injury periods. He hopes the team is through with injuries and calls it frustrating, as the team was just starting to find its rhythm before the injuries.