Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Andrew Dickson is going for the local Jr. B hockey coaching trifecta.
He helped guide the Prescott Flyers to the Gill Cup in 2015, the last time the trophy was ever handed out. Two years later he played a big role in picking up a struggling Athens Aeros team that eventually went on to beat the powerhouse Perth Blue Wings in the quarter-final in a playoff run that took the town along for the ride.
Now, Dickson is hoping to bring Brockville’s Jr. B team back to life.
It was announced Wednesday that Dickson signed on to be the head coach of the local CCHL2 team for the next two years, replacing Dave Wilson, who joined Brockville in December and took over the duties from Grahame Hughes.
“He has a tremendous grasp on local hockey players, a great track record of winning, and he’s very knowledgeable,” said Dustin Traylen, co-owner of the Brockville Braves and Tikis. “He’s exactly what we need for a team trying to turn the corner. It starts with a good coach and he’s our guy.”
Dickson’s local hockey ties are probably what makes this the biggest win for the Tikis organization. Their new coach has a reputation for rejuvenating area minor hockey organizations from his successes at the Jr. B level to playing a major role in the South Grenville Rangers Jr. C club starting up this past season.
His latest gig will, arguably, be his toughest test.
Without a doubt, Dickson has a big job ahead of him. Since the switch from the EOJHL to the CCHL2, the Tikis have finished last in two of the three years and picked up a total of just six wins in each of the seasons they were stuck in the basement.
“It’s going to take a lot of work, but that’s what I think I’m built for. I love the challenge and hopefully I can change the culture and get everybody back on board. I want to put Brockville back on the map,” said Dickson. “I’m a very proud man of what I’ve done throughout my hockey career, but I’m even more proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish in towns like Prescott and towns like Athens and being able to put a product out there where kids are leaving 100 per cent happy and telling me it was the best years of their life. That’s what I plan on instilling in Brockville as well.”
For a team that has been criticized at times for its lack of local representation they now have a face attached to it who is borderline as local as it gets these days in terms of hockey.
Dickson is just getting his feet wet so a lot of things still need to get figured out, but the new coach said he’s not expecting a lot of players to return to the Tikis roster except, “The plan is to keep the locals that are around, obviously.”
There were three players from the area that played at least 40 games for the Tikis this past season.
The plan, according to Traylen, is to add more Brockville and area talent to the Jr. B squad with a crop of U18 Braves expected to make the jump up to the Jr. B level and the owner is also hoping Dickson can recruit local players on his own.
“At the Tier II level I think it’s more important to have local flavour. A local coach that knows the local players and who can recruit locally and bring back some of that local flavour, that’s kind of what we’re going for,” said Traylen.
Dickson has signed on for at least two years and the progression plan, he said, is to push for the playoffs in the 2018-19 season and then move up from there the following year.
Traylen echoed those goals and added next year the Tikis aren’t going to be the “laughing stock” of the league.
Dickson, though, is aware that it’s not all about bringing a championship trophy to Brockville. It never really has been for the Tikis since transitioning to the CCHL2.
Winning a title would be a bonus, said Dickson, but the biggest goal, as Braves management has asserted the last few years, is to get players to the Jr. A level. Traylen described that as Dickson’s main responsibility.
“I really think we got a good thing going here and I just hope people around the area see that and hope when camp starts this year I can prove it to everybody as to what the Tikis are going to be all about,” said Dickson.
Original story at Recorder.ca