By Garit Reid, Special to Advance-Times
The Western Junior ‘C’ Wingham Ironmen are getting an infusion of Lucknow as former Lucknow Lancer Russell Sutton is taking over the reins as the team’s new head coach.
Sutton believed that this was a great opportunity to further his coaching experience and he made the decision to join the Ironmen because he said he wasn’t sure if this opportunity would come along again.
“I was given a phone call by the GM Mike Henry, and Rob Harrison, the assistant GM who asked if I would be interested in helping coach the team,” said Sutton. “They made a decision to ask me if I wanted to be coach after interviewing about seven other people and after a couple days I said yes. I said yes because I thought it would be a great chance to give me more experience as a coach.”
Sutton said he has a lot of goals he wants to meet as the head coach of the Ironmen and he hopes his team will be in the top three in order to give them a good push in the playoffs.
Last year the Ironmen made it to the second round of the playoffs before losing to Walkerton, but Sutton wants to make it to the finals if possible. He said it will be a challenge but is confident he can make some strong changes to the team.
“I’d like to see the team progress so that we are in the top three of the division. I think it’s a feat we can handle as long as the team buys into the new system,” said Sutton. “I think when the players gel as a team they will start playing for each other and when that happens it’s almost just direction from me.”
Sutton said he also wants to focus on special teams as he said it will make or break his team through the regular season and heading into the playoffs.
“Special teams are key because that’s where your games are won and lost,” said Sutton. “There will be a lot of practices solely focused on offensive and defensive special teams. For the most part I’ll also run four lines, but it will depend on the game. I would really like to roll four lines to tire teams out and capitalize on their mistakes if we can.”
Sutton will take his experience with him to Wingham as he was a long-time Lucknow Lancers player and last year he also was behind the bench as an assistant coach. Sutton said he wanted to take this opportunity to work with developing players at the Junior ‘C’ age level to hone their skills and to become a better coach in the process.
“My experience with the Lancers was more as a player than a coach, but I’ve never been the best player on the team, so I’ve always had the motto that my team comes first,” said Sutton. “I would like to drill that into the head of my players that it’s not a ‘me’ game, it’s a team game. We don’t want to have all of our eggs in one basket. We don’t want to rely on one guy to do all of our scoring. We are going to need five or six guys contributing on that end. It will be great to have all of our lines contributing in some way.”
Sutton said he and his family are excited about the new opportunity and he said he can’t wait to go deep in the playoffs with the Ironmen.
“I’m excited, nervous, scared, the whole bit. I though at first I was crazy to do this, but it’s starting to sink in a bit and now we have to get to work,” said Sutton. “I have high expectations for this season and hopefully we can see them through. I’d like to see the team do very well and if we can at least get to the Western Junior ‘C’ finals I would be a very happy guy.”