Former Red Wing coached Junior C club to first place finish
Few rookie head coaches get to take part in a championship, but Dave McNab is one of them.
In his first season as bench boss of the Glanbrook Rangers, the Sir Allan MacNab high school graduate saw his troops finish first in the East Division of the Niagara District Junior C hockey loop and now they are battling arch rival Grimsby Peach Kings for the division championship.
Not a bad ride for someone who came on board just two seasons ago as an assistant coach.
“I didn’t know it would happen this quickly,” said the 29-year-old McNab, who was recruited by then Rangers head coach John McDonald and general manager Tom Cole in 2010.
He had just finished his first season with the senior hockey Dundas Real McCoys where his hopes of playing in the Allan Cup were dashed by a ruptured spleen he suffered during the Ontario finals in Thunder Bay.
McNab spent the previous five years playing NCAA division three hockey with Plattsburgh and Brockport in the State University of New York system.
There was also a very brief stint with Port Huron in the former International Hockey League.
“Me and John had always talked that after I was done playing…and it just so happened John and Tom had an opportunity for me and I decided to pack it in and start coaching,” McNab said. “(They) gave me a lot of leash. I ran the power plays, penalty kills; eventually (McDonald) got me to do the line changes.”
McNab is well known to McDonald and Cole.
He was captain of the Hamilton Red Wings in 2004-2005, the duo’s first season coaching there, and spent the previous three seasons with the Red Wings and Kilty B’s (the team’s name before it was changed to Red Wings).
“When we had Dave he was a hard-working kid,” said McDonald, who recently returned to the Red Wings as head coach. “He led by example both on and off the ice.”
McDonald noted the teen was looked up to by the other players and had good communication skills, all of which would make for a good hockey coach in the future.
As an assistant, McDonald said McNab learned from the team’s other coaches and quickly grew into the head coaching job.
Back at the Glanbrook Arena, McNab is quick to credit McDonald, Cole and the Rangers organization for his and the team’s success.
He noted the club’s roster reflects the organization’s commitment to recruiting players from Hamilton.
“There’s local kids around here who can play, so we never feel there’s a reason to go outside the City of Hamilton,” McNab said. “We’d like it to work a little more in the stands, but on the ice it has worked.”
The Hamilton Mountain and Sherwood high school in particular are well represented in the Rangers’ line up.
McNab said Brandon Elliott, Roger Sherwood, Cal Smith, Connor McLoughlin, Nicolas Kuiper and Joel Inouye are all Sherwood grads while Alexander Cappelletti and Anthony Sanelli are St. John de Brebeuf graduates.
The Rangers lost to Grimsby in the East Division final the past two seasons and McNab said they have some unfinished business with the Peach Kings.
“They’re probably the benchmark (for success) in Junior C hockey,” McNab said. “We’re another benchmark in this league, we’re a good organization and I think were ready to step over them.”
An East Division title would put the Rangers in a very good position to move on and capture an Ontario Junior C championship.
The best-of-seven series is tied at one win each with game three slated for Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. in Glanbrook.
The Rangers roster features mostly 19, 20 and 21-year-old players.
McNab figures he will lose half the roster to age limits and players moving up to junior A and B hockey and he’s been scouting the Hamilton Huskies and Hamilton Junior Bulldogs midget squads for players for next season.