The youngest head coach in the Ontario Hockey League has a simple message for his players.
28-year old Paul McFarland, who is about to begin his rookie season as a head coach in the OHL, wants his Kingston Frontenacs to “play the right way.”
The Kingston bench boss, hired by the Frontenacs during the off-season after apprenticing as an assistant with the Oshawa Generals, said good habits lead to success.
“When you look at teams every year, who play deep into the playoffs, they play the right way, they play hard,” said McFarland. “They play very well away from the puck. Their game doesn’t need to change, no matter who they’re playing and that’s what we are looking to build here.”
With a number of veteran players back from a Frontenacs team that finished third in the Eastern Conference in 2013-2014, Kingston is seen as a contender again in 2014-2015.
“I’m really just concerned about how we play the game and if we play the right way, the results will take care of itself,” McFarland said with regards to expectations for the Frontenacs in 2014-2015.
To be sure, Frontenacs boast a dangerous lineup that figures to include Calgary Flames first-rounder Sam Bennett. The fourth overall pick at the 2014 National Hockey League draft led Kingston with 91 points in 2013-2014.
Also expected to be a leader up front for the Frontenacs this season is fourth-year forward Ryan Kujawinski, an Iroquois Falls native and third round NHL draft pick of the New Jersey Devils.
“He’s an older guy now, in his fourth year in the league, a big strong body, plays hard. I would expect him to have a big role this year,” McFarland said of Kujawinski.
Despite the Frontenacs having so many already-drafted players, NHL scouts will continue to flock to Kingston this season to watch one of the OHL’s top prospects for the 2015 draft — forward Lawson Crouse, who helped Canada win gold at this summer’s Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
The Kingston blueline will be younger this season with the departure of captain Michael Moffat along with Evan McEneny and Mikko Vainonen to the pro ranks. But Frontenacs general manager Doug Gilmour addressed the youth of his defensive corps during the off-season by acquiring seasoned 19-year-old Chad Duchesne from the the United States Hockey League via the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
In goal, 19-year-old Lucas Peressini — who won 11 games as a backup in 2013-2014 — and 17-year-old rookie Jeremy Helvig will tend the twine with the graduation of overager Matt Mahalak.
Newcomers to the Frontenacs include their top two picks from the 2014 OHL draft — defenceman Reagan O’Grady and forward Zack Dorval.
Dorval scored 48 goals for the Soo Thunder minor midgets in 2013-2014.
PHOTO: Iroquois Falls native Ryan Kujawinski is a fourth-year forward with the Kingston Frontenacs.