Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Brockville Tikis head coach Andrew Dickson knows people were hesitant to believe him when he said at the beginning of the season that the Tikis had a chance to do something special this year.
Four months into the CCHL2 season and there seems to be more believers than doubters these days.
If you point out to Dickson the Tikis are in first place, he’ll respond, “We’re getting there.” The statement alludes that Brockville hasn’t hit their ceiling yet.
That’s saying something considering the Tikis have won six straight games and have picked up points in the standings in 13 of their last 14 games. They score the second-most amount of goals per game in the Richardson Division. They’ve given up the second-least amount of goals in the division too. They have the third-most penalty minutes in the league. Luckily, their penalty kill is closer to the top as well.
The Tikis have four players with at least 30 points and powerhouse Ottawa is the only team that can match them in that category. On the back end, Tikis co-owner Dustin Traylen has pointed to the bulk of the defence likely moving up to Jr. A in the coming years.
When you break it all down it equals out to Brockville being first-place for the first time in a long time. It’s definitely the first time since the switch from the EOJHL to the CCHL2 in 2015.
“Everyone is clicking right now.
There’s a lot of great chemistry and everyone is having fun, and wins are coming along with it,” said Tikis defenceman Jackson Hay. “I think we all knew it was going to happen at some point.”
This season’s results are a huge contrast from the Brockville team that finished with just six wins last season and in 2015-16. The Tikis already have 19 wins with 11 games left on the schedule.
Brockville’s one loss in regulation in the last 14 games came against No. 1 Ottawa and that team has just three losses in 34 games this season.
The big difference between the Canadians and the Tikis is their age. Ottawa has the CCHL2’s oldest team with an average age of 19.25. Brockville has the secondyoungest roster in the league at 17.71.
Dickson, always an optimist, doesn’t see his team drinking from the fountain of youth as a disadvantage. It just means his squad is hungry and doing everything they can to reach the next level, he said. Dickson guessed that more than half the team has what it takes to play Jr. A next year.
“They’re young, hungry, and they want it. These kids are here to get to the next level and make themselves better,” said Dickson.
Dickson saw the skill his team potentially had right from the start at training camp. People who know Dickson, though, know skill has never been his MO. He always credited character for leading the way for the playoff runs he had with the Prescott Flyers in 2015 and Athens Aeros in 2017, and he’s not budging off that game plan with Brockville.
It’s still early, but the Tikis look to add to Dickson’s almost legendardy status as to what he can do for local teams. The things he preaches seem more fit for a Hollywood movie script, pushing the more sentimental parts of a team game by saying things like, “Playing for each other” and “It’s all about heart.”
“I think a lot, with my other teams too, nobody thinks you can do it, nobody gives you a chance, and that’s what makes me coach stronger. If you can instill that in your kids and make them believe in trying to prove people wrong, it works,” said Dickson. “Every kid on this team means something to me and has a little piece of my heart. They play hard, they play for each other, we’re in it together, and it makes everything worthwhile.”
Being at the top of the CCHL2 in January is a nice feather in the cap, but that’s about all it is. Where the Tikis placed in the standings was never really mentioned when Dickson and Traylen talked about the team’s goals at the beginning of the season. They always spoke about making a playoff run.
“We’re first now, but it’s so tight and we’re not taking anything for granted,” said Dickson. “We haven’t won anything, we haven’t done anything, and that’s the sort of mentality that we keep coming to the rink with.”
Nowadays Dickson has noticed people’s attitude changing towards the Tikis. He doesn’t pay too much attention to it. While other people are looking back on what the team used to be and comparing them to what they are now, Dickson only has his eyes on the future.
And, right now the future looks bright.
“The ones who weren’t there in the beginning and didn’t think you could do it can sometimes be the ones coming up to you now and you just got to keep a level head on it and just realize what you’re doing. You have to keep focused on it and maybe at the end of the year I’ll look back,” said Dickson.
Original story at Recorder.ca