Rangers coaching staff returning behind the bench

Published on Tuesday, 23 May 2023 08:21

The Parkland Rangers will have some familiar faces behind the bench as the entire coaching staff will be returning next season.

Head coach Tyler Carefoot and assistants Chris Belhumeur, Colton Robak and Alex Lytwyn will look to bring some stability to the program.

Carefoot said it was something that has been in the works since the end of the season.

“It was just a matter of getting together with the board and meeting with manager (Jason) Gibbs and just sorting out a few details. There’s a few things behind the scenes that I needed to sort out that, in the end, the board was very accommodating. So I’m happy to be back,” he said.

One of the things Carefoot had to take care of was ensuring the rest of the coaching staff would return, as well.

“And then even manager Gibbs. Behind the scenes, he’s a very important piece of the pie, so to speak, with all the little things that he does and doesn’t get enough credit for,” he added.

Although they played well at times, last season, the Rangers struggled to put together a winning streak until the end of the season, when they won five of the last seven games, including four straight wins.

Carefoot and company hope to build off that late-season success.

“We were a younger group last year. We lacked some experience at the start of the season, but I think our second half proved that we can compete in this league and, hopefully, we’re going to be able to get a few more wins next season,” he said.

Carefoot plans to reach out to all of the players eligible to return next season, as well as meeting with some new recruits.

Carefoot pointed out there will be no team in Central Plains this year, so players from that region are basically free agents, able to play where they want.

“You think that it’s the offseason, but even at our level of play, there’s always something going on, so we’ve just got to keep stoking the fire and trying to make our team as competitive as we can,” Carefoot said.

The Rangers have 15 players eligible to return next season, but some of those players may end up within the junior ranks, whether it be the Manitoba Junior Hockey League or Western Hockey League.

“If everybody comes back, optimistically, there’s a lot to be excited for,” Carefoot said, pointing out the Rangers missed the playoffs by 11 points and had 15 one-goal losses during the season. “Even if you only get half of those back, you’ve got a playoff spot,” he said.

In the last three years, Carefoot said, 15 players came through the Rangers program and are now playing major junior or junior A.

“I would challenge any rural program as far as developing players. That can all be done right here. You don’t have to move away or spend the big bucks to get the development. I think its right here,” he said.

With a solid nucleus to build around, Carefoot is optimistic the Rangers will have a good season next year.

“I like what I see on paper and how that shakes out in the fall, that will be determined. But I really like the guys coming in and the guys that are coming back are, most importantly, they’re all good guys and guys that I want to cheer for and help make them, not only good hockey players, but good people. I think that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

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