Dustin Peacock coaches because he loves the game and wants to share his knowledge with his players.
“I try to help the kids become better players,” Peacock, coach of the Quesnel Thunder tier three peewee hockey team, said.
“I want to be a good coach.”
Being a good coach for 11 – 12-year-old hockey players is not an easy task, Peacock explained.
The players are from a new generation, he said, and require new approaches and an understanding of the kids.
The biggest challenge, Peacock, a Level I certified coach said, was getting the players to want to learn to play hockey, to play as a member of a team and building a team atmosphere.
The key to wanting to learn and playing as a team is engagement, he said.
“Especially kids with a lot of talent.”
“They don’t want to engage in the play, they don’t want to pass the puck.
“It’s not easy to get them to not use the me-me attitude.”
Peacock also said he is counting on returning players to lead by example, to show the rookies exactly how to engage in the game, to play as a team.
Among the returnees, are Brody Dale, Marshall Brown and Myles Matilla.
“They’re going to be the three key kids up front,” Peacock said of the trio.
On defence, Peacock said the coaching staff look to Nolan Parr to make a difference. Parr played forward last year, but committed to playing on the blue line this year.
Between the pipes, the peewee Thunder are counting on rookie Brandon Peacock and second-year peewee netminder Josh Salmons.
“We expect pretty good seasons from both of them,” Peacock said.
Last weekend, the Thunder hosted an ice-breaker tournament and key players stepped up just as expected, with Brody Dale, Marshall Brown and Christopher Thon lighting the lamp several times and Myles Mattila dishing out some nice helpers.
“Overall I was happy with the way the kids played this weekend,” Peacock said.
“They looked a little nervous in the first game but they improved as the weekend went on.”
The Thunder started the season this weekend with an 8-2 win Saturday morning against their counterparts from McBride and followed that with a 10-3 win over Williams Lake thanks to a six-goal outburst in the third period.
The game against Williams Lake was a penalty-filled affair, Peacock said, thanks in large part to the players adapting to the new check to the head rule.
“The new check to the head rules set out by Hockey Canada is going to take a little getting used to, but I think it will come with a bit of time,” Peacock said.
Sunday morning the Thunder were in tough against Prince George in what Peacock described as a good game with plenty of action. The teams finished the game tied at three goals apiece, thanks in part to strong goaltending from Brandon Peacock.
With the ice-breaker behind them, the Thunder coaching staff now have the difficult task of trimming the roster.
“It’s tough to let a kid know he didn’t make the team,” Peacock said.
The first half of the season is a busy one for the peewee Thunder, including tournaments in Terrace, Salmon Arm, Williams Lake and Kamloops.
Adding to the competitiveness of the tournaments, the peewee Thunder will be facing mostly peewee tier two teams.
“It will be a test for the kids,” Peacock said.
“But I know we’ll give them a good go.”
All of the players will have to play hard and get plenty of rest to avoid the rash of injuries they experienced last year.
The Thunder will have a bit of a break in the New Year with fewer tournaments, but will nonetheless face their biggest challenge in March when the Thunder host the provincial peewee tier three hockey championships.
The peewee Thunder host Williams Lake at Twin Arenas Saturday.
The teams hit the ice for a pair of games at 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.