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Red Wings stagger into 2013

Dan Cameron gone as head coach

 By Mark Newman, News Staff

The return of goalie Avery Allen recently from a hip injury that put him out of the line-up for nearly a month and the pending return of injured goalie Jake Rennie has been some much-needed good news for the Hamilton Red Wings in a season that has been mostly bad.

Heading into the Christmas break, the Red Wings were past the half-way mark of their worst season ever (that includes the Kilty B years).

A miserable 5-35 record has dropped the club solidly and quite likely permanently into last place in the West Division of the Ontario Junior Hockey League with virtually no hope of a playoff spot.

Missing the post season would likely be another first for the franchise.

A multitude of injuries plus bad goaltending and a weak defence that has given up a league-worst 281 goals so far this season and an offence that has scored 128 goals, second lowest in the six-team division, has quickened the team’s downward spiral this season.

Eight of the losses saw 11 or more goals scored on the Red Wings’ net and the team’s last win was a 5-4 home ice shoot-out victory over a struggling Orangeville squad on Nov. 26.

The Red Wings’ current roster bears little resemblance to the team’s line-up from last September.

After eight straight losses to begin the season, it wasn’t long before the revolving door on the team dressing room began to spin.

Forward Nick Scamurra was traded to Buffalo, forward Jordan Mernate was dealt to St. Michael’s, forward Aaron Spivak was sent to the Toronto Junior Canadiens, highly touted goalie Jason Pucciarelli asked for a trade and was sent to North York for Avery Allen, forward Spencer MacCormack, who was acquired from Trenton, was traded to Whitby, forward Adam DiBrina was sent to Aurora and defenceman Harrison Domagala was dealt to Oakville.

The Red Wings also acquired forward Dylan Hutton from Pickering, forward Sam Berg from Buffalo and defenceman Wil Pointon from Milton.

It was also only a matter of time before a coaching change was made.

Dan Cameron, who came on board as head coach with much fanfare (at least from team management), stepped down following a 12-0 loss to Georgetown last month.

Cameron was 5-31 as head coach.

“It was basically a mutual agreement,” said Red Wings president and general manager Robert Turnbull. “In the best interests of Dan, in the best interests of the hockey club, we just decided to part ways.”

Cameron did not respond to a phone call and email from the Mountain News for comment.

Scott Elliot, the team’s head coach last season and associate coach for most of this season, has assumed the head coaching duties.

“We’re happy with Scott,” said Red Wings captain Spencer Hyman (son of team owner Stu Hyman). “We’re just going to stick together as a team and move forward.”

Hyman said that despite the club’s lack of wins, the attitude in the dressing room remains positive.

“This year out of my four years in Hamilton has been honestly the closest team we’ve had in my opinion. I think everyone’s trying. We have a lot of character guys in the room, we don’t give up.”

Elliot said better goaltending would immediately make the Red Wings competitive.

“The soft pucks and soft shots and long distance pucks have to be stopped,” he said. “I can only go so far holding the forwards accountable, holding the defence accountable, at some point the goaltender has to be held accountable.”

The Red Wings have 16 games left this season.

They begin the 2013 portion of their campaign at Toronto Lakeshore tomorrow (Thursday) night.

The Red Wings visit Milton on Friday night and play their first home game of the New Year on Monday when they host St. Michael’s.

Game time is 7:30 p.m. at the Dave Andreychuk-Mountain Arena.

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