Coach's Corner

Predictions for the 2006 Challenge Cup season

Southern Gazette June 20.2006

By Gord Dunphy

Predictions for the 2006 Challenge Cup season

Here I am this summer, from the Stanley Cup to the World Cup and on to the Challenge Cup and it’s great!

Although it’s early in the season, most Challenge Cup teams have played a few games. I will give you my opinion of what I feel you are about to witness for the remainder of Round One in 2006.

St. Lawrence Laurentians: The Laurentians will be the team to beat in 2006. Mind you, they are not the same quality team of past Laurentians’ teams that most of us may have witnessed in the 70s or the 90s, but neither are any of their opponents.

Strength: The Laurentians know how to win.

Weakness: Bench players.

Key Performers: Clinton Edwards, Rudy Norman and young Paul Slaney.

Coach’s Corner Comments: The Laurentians need to be more physical in the middle of the field. The return of Alec Turpin will give the Laurentians some toughness up front, but the center mid field position and center backs position need to play more aggressive.

Prediction: 1st place

St. John’s Holy Cross: Holy Cross is on its way back to being legitimate contenders. In 2006, they will outwork and out practice all other teams, but as in 2005, inexperience will hurt them again this season.

Strength: Coaching.

Weakness: Goaltending.

Key Performers: Jon Hawco, Jeremy Babstock and Corey Moore.

Coach’s Corner Comments: If St. Lawrence are to be defeated this season, Holy Cross is the only team that has any remote chance of pulling a upset and doing so.

Prediction: 2nd place

Mount Pearl/That Pro Look/ Molson: Mount Pearl’s 2006 Challenge Cup squad has a great group of soccer players. The loss of Ryan Caines will hurt in their goal scoring department.

Strength: Mount Pearl’s depth.

Weakness: Goal scoring.

Key Performers: John Kelly, Shane Antle and Gerald Connolly.

Coach’s Corner Comments: Traditionally Mount Pearl hardly ever lives up to their expectations. This club reminds me of the NHL’s Ottawa Senators – Ottawa has great strength and representation at the NHL Board Room Level. Mount Pearl has great strength and representation at the NLSA Board Room Level. Ottawa generally has a great regular season, so does Mount Pearl. Ottawa is never there when it counts, nor do I think Mount Pearl will be there when it counts.

Prediction: 3rd place

St. John’s Feildians: The Feildians of 2006 has come out of the gates slowly, but I am expecting bigger and better things from them as the season progresses.

Strength: Matthew Prim may very well be the league’s best keeper.

Weakness: Clubs inability in learning how to win.

Key Performers: Matthew Prim, Matthew Wilkins and Steven Croft.

Coach’s Corner Comments: Coach Mike Woolford must start using his best players in his team’s key positions.

Prediction: 4th place

Marystown United Mariners: The Marstown 2006 Challenge Cup squad’s weak start will hurt its chances in advancing to second round play on Labour Day Weekend.

Strength: Experience.

Weakness: Lack of physical conditioning.

Key Performers: Scott Edwards, Darrell Stewart and Colin Power.

Coach’s Corner Comments: The loss of the leadership provided by Vince MacDougall will be insurmountable. Sure the 2006 United squad has talent, but they lack heart.

Prediction: 5th place

Burin Eagles: Burin is back with a group of very young players, and coach Albert Anstey has constructed his team with mostly young players. This is definitely the way to build a club for the future. Strength: Veterans Players – Jeff Warren, Howie Drake and Trevor Appleby.

Weakness: Inexperience.

Key Performers: Jeremy Brenton, Shannon Francis and Neil Edwards.

Coach’s Corner Comments: I’m quite pleased to see the character displayed by young Shannon Francis in opting to play for his home town, after putting in a good show with the St. Lawrence Laurentians last year in Calgary, Alberta. Good for you Shannon!

Prediction: 6th Place