Jr. Reign ‘family’ out to make impact in USPHL Premier for ’23-24 season
Ontario Jr. Reign coach-GM Jeremy Blumes gets it.
He understands that junior hockey is all about development and improvement for the players.
If the players buy in to what the coaching staff teaches, then everything else will take care of itself.
“Our organization’s objective is player development, both on and off the ice,” said Blumes. “Winning is a product of that development. We are certain that if our players develop, we will have a successful record. We believe that our family will beat your team, we have seen our group become closer every day, and we expect that trend to continue. I believe that our team cohesion will be our greatest strength.”
Blumes went on to say that internal competition within the Jr. Reign players is never a bad thing.
“Training camp was very positive,” Blumes said. “We posses a hard working group that is looking to improve and enjoy the process each day. Plenty of competition in practice and in the gym. Good depth at all positions will have the staff having to make tough decisions on game days.”
When asked who will be Ontario’s top players this season, Blumes rattled off the names of several players.
“Rhys Doyle is an electric two-way center, Kaedin Larocque-Wolfe has the innate ability to find the back of the net, Cooper Kantola is an agile 6-foot-3 two-way D-man that can play in all situations, and Chris Lai from the San Jose Jr. Sharks’ 18U AAA program plays with tremendous pace,” said Blumes. “Eamon Julian is a strong two-way center and penalty killer, Mason Welsh, CJ Kemp, Devin Blair, and Jon Anderson are all returnees that are playing with a great deal more assertiveness and confidence after a season in our league. Tristan Lam, Jace Bodnar, Tristen Friedman, Diego Flota, and Baden Powell all have experience in the USPHL and will be difference makers for us.
“We have a deep group and we expect different impact players to emerge on a nightly basis.”
In looking at the roster this season compared to last season, Blumes noted that players climbing the ladder to higher levels of the game is the cause for much of the turnover.
“Close to a third of our roster from last season has advanced to higher levels of hockey – Tier II, college and professional,” Blumes said. “My early impression is that we have a very focused group that has clear objectives. I believe that we will see even more of our players advance in our third year in the USPHL.”
Perhaps most importantly, the growth of junior hockey on the West Coast in recent years can be attributed to the USPHL’s Pacific Division.
“In our inaugural season, we had two local players on the roster, and one of them was Andrew Cervantes who is a freshman playing with the University of Central Oklahoma,” said Blumes. “This season, we have 11 local players on our roster, so I certainly believe that local California hockey players are beginning to understand that this is a terrific option for them to play a high level of junior hockey without having to live a great distance from home.”
Now with the new season fast approaching, goals are set and the Jr. Reign is ready to get to work.
“Every season is different from the previous, and that’s why we play the game,” Blumes said. “We are focused on our own preparation and look forward to another competitive season in the Pacific Division.”
The Jr. Reign kick off the 2023-24 season this Wednesday with a 1:25 p.m. puck drop at Ontario Center Ice against the Lake Tahoe Lakers.
— Matt Mackinder
(September 18, 2023)