Aberdeen Lynx head coach Owen Reynolds says that while the 2019/20 season was hugely frustrating, he believes it has provided the club’s youngsters with some invaluable experience.
Lynx ended their Scottish National League (SNL) campaign in the bottom half of the table and were unable to make any progress in the Scottish Cup.
They did manage to reach the semi-finals of the Stuart Robertson Cup (SRC), but a 14-1 aggregate defeat against Murrayfield Racers ended their interest in the competition.
Reynolds believes that the early end to the season due to the coronavirus pandemic summed up a season that at some points had seemed cursed.
“A number of key players moves on so we had a summer of rebuilding, but by the time the season started we felt we had a strong, competitive team,” he said.
“Things were looking positive with some good results in the SRC, but unfortunately the optimism was short-lived.
“We proved when we had our full squad that we could compete with anyone in the league, but the season was plagued by injuries.
“Long-term injuries to Jack Durkacz – who was leading the team in goals and assists until he had his arm broken – and new signing Alex Newman who made an immediate impact for us were particularly unhelpful.
“At one point we were playing games with seven players out injured and five more off-shore, but all credit to the boys they always gave everything regardless of the odds and never rolled over.
“It also gave us an opportunity to give some of our youngsters some invaluable SNL experience and we’ll certainly be looking to get more from them in the coming years.”
In addition to his duties with Lynx, Reynolds is also part of the Scotland U17 coaching set-up alongside Jamie Thompson and Adam Walker.
The trio had been looking forward to taking a strong-looking squad to the Conference event at iceSheffield, but the early curtailment of the season denied them that opportunity.
“It was the toughest squad selection we’ve had to make in the last five years, which is testament to the progress Scottish Ice Hockey is making,” added Reynolds.
“We had a blend of exciting first year players with the Belfast lads really raising the bar, and some incredibly talented second years with the likes of Finlay King, Jonny McBean, Harvey Topen and Archie Holmes all proving themselves at SNL level.
“We were certainly looking forward to seeing what the team was capable of.
“I was especially disappointed for our own Zac Thomson who was joint top points scorer at the U11 pre-Conference tournament in Dumfries – he’d have been one to watch at Sheffield.”
With competitive hockey cancelled for the foreseeable future, Reynolds says he is unconcerned with final league positions or trophies for last season.
He says Aberdeen’s main focus has been keeping their junior players engaged via social media until the current crisis blows over.
“I’ve enjoyed seeing what other clubs have been doing and I was especially proud of Aberdeen’s efforts in the ‘skate 500 miles’ challenge where the club raised over £800 for the NHS.
“It’s great to see Murrayfield juniors have now taken on the #skate500 challenge and I hope other clubs follow suit.”
(Image permission: Ferguson Photography)