13 in 13: Wilkes-Barre Miners
September 10, 2015
The 13 in 13 series will feature an in-depth look into all 13 teams in the NA3EHL for the 2015-16 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season on Friday, September 11th as eight teams take to the ice on Opening Night.13 in 13 goes in-depth into each NA3EHL team and will include interviews with all 13 head coaches in the NA3EHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the 2015-16 season, including taking a look at their potential roster and their strengths as a team for the upcoming season. It will also take a look back on the 2014-15 season and how each team fared and what they accomplished. Best of all, 13 in 13 will provide the fans of the NA3EHL with an inside look at their favorite team and what to expect.
2014-15 Record: 20-17-4, 44 pts. (3rd in the Western Division)
2015 Playoffs: Lost in the Western Division Finals to Jersey Shore, 2-0
Head Coach: Jason MacDonald
2015-16 Division: West
A year after making the West Finals and winning 20 games, the Wilkes-Barre Miners enter the 2015-16 season looking for the next step of success. Many things went right for the Miners last season, which included a remarkable run at the end of the season when they won seven of their last eight games, which was followed by an upset of the Lockport Express in the West Division Semi-Finals. Also included in that was the play of players like Daniel Leisser (NA3EHL scoring leader), Derek Bureau and Arturs Bush (NA3EHL goal-scoring leader).
For the 2015-16 season, the Miners have brought in Jason MacDonald to coach the team. The 6th round, 142nd overall selection of the Detroit Red Wings in the 1992 NHL Entry Draft, MacDonald spent ten seasons playing minor league hockey before finally making his NHL debut during the 2003-04 season. MacDonald played a total of 512 games in the American Hockey League, which included three years with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins where he helped lead the Penguins to the 2001 Calder Cup Final. Although the team lost in six games to the Saint John Flames, MacDonald strong play kept him in Wilkes-Barre/ Scranton for another two seasons.
“I am excited to be coaching because junior hockey is an exciting level of hockey and I spent four years playing in it, so I look forward to working to improve each of our player’s abilities on the daily basis,” said MacDonald. “Anytime a new coach comes in there is an expected learning curve, but I hope that our goals and our message to the players in clear from the start and we gel quickly.”
The Miners recently announced one of their bigger player additions in forward Ryan Flanagan. Flanagan, a local to the Wilkes-Barre area, had a successful rookie season with the Vermont Lumberjacks in the MJHL with 40 goals and 24 assists in 36 games landing him MJHL Rookie of the Year and 1st Team all-star. Flanagan, who is recovering from surgery in April, will be lacing up sometime in October, until then he will be participating in no-contact practice with the team. “I have known Ryan since he was 4-years-old and even then he was a stand-out on the ice. Both Coach MacDonald and myself are looking forward to getting him healthy and into the NA3EHL family,” said Miners General Manager Ray Welsh.
The roster will be almost entirely new, with the exception of returning forwards Austin Bandura (31 points), Brett Welsh (12 points), Kenny Myers (6 points), and defensemen Hunter Hackling (8 points) and Nicholas Vitanovec (7 points), along with goalie Nolan Bivolcic. “First, we will be about development and structure and then develop a high-tempo style of hockey. Once we get our players developed to a certain level, it then helps the team, which then is a reflection on the organization. We are excited to get started,” said MacDonald.
Thanks for reading the NA3EHL 13 in 13 season preview!