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Nipigon Elks hire new coach

John Coppock takes over the Junior 'B' franchise from Malcolm Sutherland, who was behind the bench for the past two seasons.

The Nipigon Elks will have a new face behind the bench for the 2023-2024 season.

The Lakehead Junior Hockey League (LJHL) franchise has tapped John Coppock to lead the team after being under the guidance of Malcolm Sutherland for the past two seasons.

Elks captain Carter Hargreaves admits he was speechless when he found out about the coaching change, saying “John is a fantastic coach. He will bring his talents to the coaching staff and make the Elks team be at the top of the league once again. We are very excited for him to be a part of the Nipigon Elks family.”

Hargreaves went onto say, “Malcolm [Sutherland] was a huge piece for us as he was our motivator, inspiration, and making sure we were all having fun. Malcolm is a fantastic coach and what he taught us and brought to our team will never be missed and will always be recognized.”

The Elks finished fourth in the LJHL regular season standings with nine wins in 24 games.

They swept the Thunder Bay Bandits in the best of three quarter-finals before being eventually being defeated by the Schreiber Falcons in the best of seven semi-final, scoring just eight goals in the four games.

Hargreaves will be playing his third season with the Elks franchise.

In 42 regular season games last season, the Thunder Bay native had 19 goals and 47 points.

Hargreaves was picked by Sutherland to become the captain of the franchise in 2022-2023.

“I wanted to become more [involved in] the community of the township of Nipigon, so I started a golf tournament for our team so everyone in the community and the players can interact and become a family once again,” Hargreaves stated. “We started doing visits with the local elementary schools, [as well as] helping the Nipigon Baptist Church raise money for their food bank. My goal as being captain is to restore the connection between the Junior team and the township of Nipigon.”

Hargreaves is looking forward to this season. Even though the team is losing goaltender Zach Prenger and defensemen Connor Lybarger, the Elks will still look to the returnees to carry the load including netminder Richard Lamont, defenceman Brody Stenlund as well as forwards Evan Maslack and Daniel Bacon.

The team also made a six-player deal with the Current River Storm, sending out forwards Gage Hardy and Brandon McKinnon as well as defenceman Steve Skerritt. The Elks received forwards James Coppock, Ian Zechner as well as Colton McLeod, who played both positions throughout the season.

All three players played in every regular season with the Storm. Coppock led the team with 17 goals while Zechner had ten points and McLeod picked up three.

The five-team circuit is still working on the regular season schedule for 2023-2024.

The Thunder Bay Northern Hawks will play home games out of the Fort William Gardens this year while the Thunder Bay Bandits home rink hasn’t been announced.


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