APR 18, 2013
Courtesy of www.CottageCountryNow.ca

Although they didn’t win the playoffs, the Powassan Eagles had a successful first year.

“The year went really well. The team really gelled together,” said coach Gary Astalos. “We’re a pretty close-knit group.”

The Eagles played against the Rama Aces in round one of the Junior A playoffs before taking on the Temiskaming Titans.

“We swept the first round and then lost the second,” said Astalos.

He said the Eagles have no shame in losing to the Titans.

“They’re a really good team,” he said. “We tend to have a younger group… They have 14 players with a ’91-’92 birth year. That team was built to be experienced.”

Of the 15 Greater Metro Hockey League (GMHL) Junior A teams, the Eagles are ranked fifth, putting them two wins behind South Muskoka and three behind Bracebridge.

Astalos said the team had a few standout players, including forward Adam Marceau (#32) from North Bay.

“He is one of our best leaders in the locker room,” he said. “We traded for him mid-season.”

Other stars on the ice this year were fellow forwards Dan Vlach (#14) of Czech Republic and Jim Steele (#7) of the United States, and defenseman Patrik Lobl (#71) of Czech Republic. But Astalos said the entire team deserves recognition.

“There are so many guys that I could announce,” he said. “Everyone contributed. I don’t think our team did well because of any one player. We did really well developing as a team this year.”

Starting the season with 23 players, the Eagles roster increased to 29 players by the playoffs after the team lost a few players to injuries. Astalos said all but one will likely be fit to return to the ice in the coming months.

“We definitely want all of the local players back next season, but at the same time we want to move them forward into other levels,” he said, noting the Eagles won’t likely see much of a turnover in its roster in the coming season.

With 12 of its 29 players hailing from Europe, he said there is interest in having more local players on the team.

“Next year, our goal is to bring more Canadian players from this area,” said Astalos. “We’ve been getting a lot of feedback from local players that want to play for us.”

Astalos said he and the team’s other two coaches plan to tackle the fundamentals in preparation for the next season.

“It’s really just about practicing the basics,” he said. “We will be working on running our systems accurately.”

Overall, Astalos said the team’s inaugural year was a success.

“The big positive out of this year, being an expansion team and starting from scratch, is our record of 25 (wins), 13 (losses) and four.”