Jonathon Brodie – Recorder & Times
Consider Hunter Shipclark one of the last players standing.
The 6-foot-5, 200-pound defenceman is one of just two players that made it through the debris of a blown up roster and onto this year’s Brockville Tikis team.
It would have been easy, and maybe even understandable, for new Tikis head coach Andrew Dickson to decide to scrap everyone from the 2017-18 team. When you hear the way Dickson talks about Shipclark, though, it’s even easier to understand why he not only kept the 18-year-old, but why he made him captain.
You can typically measure the kind of person someone is by the way their coach talks about them. From Dickson there wasn’t anything uttered about Shipclark’s onice abilities when describing him. Words like “great in the dressing room” and “better role player” were mentioned by the Tikis bench boss. Things like poise and strength – traits Shipclark no doubt has – were nowhere in sight.
Dickson knew Shipclark with the blue-liner being from Spencerville. He knew his character, his family, and watched him grow up, said Dickson.
Shipclark is part of the reason Dickson even agreed to come to the Tikis, so it’s fitting that Shipclark was on the fence about returning to Brockville until he heard Dickson would be on the bench. It was Shipclark, said Dickson, who reached out to him about the coach coming to Brockville to see, “if he could come in and help out.”
“He said right from day one that he wanted to be a part of this and be a part of a rebuild and he’s a big reason why I’m here as well,” said Dickson. “He just wants to win and I say winning, but it’s more that he just wants to see the Brockville Tikis succeed and he wants to be a part of it.”
Here’s another example that shows the type of person and player Shipclark is. Here’s a guy who was part of a team last year that was completely dismal and probably dysfunctional to some degree and he ascertains, almost seems thankful, that he’s a better player because of everything he went through. There’s probably not many players on the 2017-18 Tikis roster that would or could say that, said Dickson.
Brockville won just six times last year over the course of a 52-game season. This year’s Tikis already have 10 wins in 31 fewer games.
“It was a learning curve for sure… it made me a lot of better for it,” said Shipclark, who has two goals and three assists this season. “I learned that winning isn’t everything. Obviously we went into games and pretty much knew we were going to lose, but guys still competed, made with what we had, and learned to bite the bullet and not worry about the score, just worry about your next shift.”
Shipclark praised his teammates from last year, but admitted the team was lacking character – that’s probably a tough pill to swallow for a guy who doesn’t seem to lack any. Once the Tikis started losing there was no fight to get back up.
It didn’t take long for Shipclark to figure out things would be different this time around. He noticed some of his new teammates at training camp, but there were some head turns when they were all put together on the ice for the team’s first practice, said Shipclark.
The Brockville captain got a chance to watch the team’s first exhibition game from the stands – a 6-3 win against the Westport Rideaus – and he knew from there, “that we had something special.” He saw a lot more composure and drive from the team compared to last year’s squad, Shipclark said.
The Tikis are doing monstrously better than last year and moderately good overall. With the season at about the halfway point, the Tikis are currently sitting in the fifth and final playoff spot and have played fewer games than just about every team ahead of them in the Richardson Division.
Shipclark said this is only the beginning for the Tikis with the Jr. B club figuring out their game. That might be true for most of Brockville’s roster. Truthfully, though, Shipclark’s story with the Tikis started way before any of this and he’s one of the few players that can say that on the team.
“We’ve told the guys that we’ve had a couple of bad bounces here and there, but we just tell them it’s going to come and it is. It’s starting to come now,” said Shipclark. “We’re starting to come together, play as a team, everyone is starting to mature as hockey players and as men, and it’s really helping. I think it’s going to turn out to be a really good year.”
Original Story at Recorder.ca