The Stoney Creek Warriors enter the second half of their 2007/08 Golden Horseshoe League campaign with a new bench boss. Last weekend, the Junior B team parted ways with head coach and general manager Mike Schutte.
“Over the last two or three weeks, the hockey executive had become concerned with the direction the team was headed,” said team owner Don Snively. “It was decided that for the best interest of the team and our goals for this season, we had to make a coaching change.”
After jumping out to an impressive start to the season, the Warriors (13-11-1) have struggled lately and dropped to fourth place. In the past 10 games, the team is 4-6 with three straight losses. Last weekend, the Warriors lost 6-2 in Port Colborne and dropped a 6-5 decision at home to Niagara Falls.
Schutte, a retired RCMP officer with excellent hockey credentials, was brought in last summer to rebuild the team and had the full support from the owner and executive. However, the team hasn’t lived up to expectations and Snively felt it was time to shake things up in order to turn the season around.
Replacing Schutte as coach and general manager is Glenn Walsh, who coached the Warriors for three seasons (2003 to 2006). During his tenure, Walsh guided the Warriors to their best-ever finish in the GHL and was awarded Coach of the Year for two straight years.
“We are looking forward to a successful remainder of our 2007/08 hockey season,” said Snively. “We want to make a drive for the league championship. I believe Glenn (Walsh) can help us achieve our goals.”
Walsh was excited to return. “I was getting a little bored,” said the Stoney Creek native. “I’ve had a nice, relaxing year-and-a-half off (from hockey).” And Walsh is no stranger to junior hockey. He coached the Warriors to four Junior C championships in the 1980s, as well as a successful stint in the Provincial Jr. A league. “I don’t know a lot about the team,” he said. “But I’ve watched a few games recently and they look like a real quality team. Mike (Schutte) did a good job putting this team together.”
As he takes over the team, Walsh will have his hands full in the coming week, as the Dec. 1 cutdown date looms. The Warriors need to trim their roster to 23 players, meaning some difficult decisions will have to be made.
The Warriors need to find a No. 1 goaltender and are in desperate need of some veteran experience on defense. Walsh said he was working the phones this week, trying to plug the gaps and get the Warriors back on course.
The team has back-to-back home games beginning tonight (Thursday, Nov. 29) against Port Colborne, and on Saturday (Dec. 1). Both games start at 7.30 p.m. at Valley Park Arena. On Sunday, the Warriors hit the road to take on the second-place Welland Jr. Canadians.