SACKVILLE, N.B. – The most challenging matter facing Mount Allison’s recently named head coach, as he sees it, is a change in culture of the Lady Mounties hockey team.
Forty-seven-year-old Terry Rhindress has been hanging out at rinks since he began playing the game of hockey in the Amherst minor system so he should have a handle on what will be required to bring the Mounties back from the basement to once again be serious challengers for the Atlantic Universities Women’s Hockey Conference (AUWHC) championship.
In other words, he has been a student of the game for 40 years and has been coaching at various levels for the past 25. Last season, he served as an assistant coach with the Mounties and was able to get a first-hand look at what needs to be done to fix the problems that have seen the team fall from grace – from a championship finalist to one that won just three games and tied one while dropping 20 – not a good omen.
It was only a few years ago that the Mounties and University of Moncton went the limit in a battle for conference honours. In the three-game series the teams split the first two by a single goal and Moncton managed to squeak out a victory in the final by one goal. So, over the three games the differential in goals was just one – that is how close the local collegians came to hanging a banner as conference champions.
But from that high point it has been a steady downward trend. Rhindress, however, plans to change all that and begin heading in an upward direction.
And the first thing will be to help develop a new culture – one where each player has full confidence in each other and the young women play as a unit – actually as a family.
During the past campaign, they dropped seven games by just one goal and he believes the outcome could have been different but there was a little something missing. He believes he has the answer – now is his opportunity to show the rest of the teams that he means business and that his players fully commit to his system.
Terry Rhindress brings a wealth of experience to the Mount Allison program – experience gained from coaching at every level from atom to junior and now with a year of university on his resume.
Forced to quit playing the game because of a serious knee injury in his hometown of Amherst, he immediately jumped into the coaching ranks. After 18 years working with teams in Amherst, he moved up with the Moncton AAA Midget Flyers ‘and spent some time with the Dieppe Commandos. Since then, he has served time with Acadie-Bathurst Titan, Bridgewater Lumberjacks and four years with Moncton Vitos.
“The time has come for the Mountie players who talk Mountie Pride to practice this noble theme on the ice and become accountable to each other,” Rhindress said during a recent conversation.
He said the team will have a strong core of players when practices commence in September as only a small handful of performers are due to graduate. However. there will be one huge vacancy – that in goal where Kari Martin has been the guardian of the mesh in spectacular fashion during her time here.
But the coach says some fine recruiting has been carried out and in addition to the backups this past season there will be a trio of newcomers seeking to take charge of the crease. These will include Lindsay Wray, Katie Mowbray and Manitoban Bionca Zak.
The trio of assistant coaches from last year will return, including Kirsten Cooze, Marcel Dupuis and Shelby Colten to provide continuity to a team in transition.
Asked to comment on local players, Rhindress said rookie Abby Beale played very well and picked her way through the league nicely and brings an offensive threat each time she is on the ice. And he is looking forward to the arrival of Lauren Shaw, who brings an offensive intensity. He believes it is important to encourage Titan programs in developing university ready athletes.
With several other campus teams gaining prominence – men’s and women’s basketball, football, swimming, cross country, badminton and curling, for example – a dramatic resurgence in women’s hockey would come at a most appropriate time.