LU’s hockey team looks to the future in the wake of a change-up on the bench
By Esa Keltamaki
On October 18, the Thunderwolves hockey program released Joel Scherban from his duties as head coach. That same day, assistant coach Mike Busniuk was named interim head coach, likely for the remainder of the season.
“We don’t really have a plan at this juncture for a search and a replacement,” Tom Warden, Lakehead’s director of athletics, said. “I think that [the coaching decision] is something we’re going to take our time with and make sure we do properly. At this point, we’re going to stay with Mike Busniuk as the interim coach.”
Busniuk, who has been an assistant with the ‘Wolves for three years, has taken the helm of a team looking to improve upon success.
Joel Scherban led Lakehead to an 81-49 record in just over three years on the bench, but never got the team over the championship hill. “We want to have a style of play that is successful. We’ve been successful over the year [but] a national championship has eluded us,” Warden said when asked if the ‘Wolves playing style was expected to change.
“If you look at the teams that win national championships, there’s not much difference in their make-up and our make-up – a tweak here, a tweak there. It’s all about making sure you’re peaking at the right time, and guys are stepping up, and goaltending’s good, and all those things. So I think we’ve got all the pieces in place.”
“It’s not a matter of style,” he continued. “It’s the timing of your good play that is the most important part of winning a championship.”
Warden went on: “If you look at teams that have won like Western, and McGill that won [last year’s championship], there were times last year when they weren’t playing well at all, they just peaked at the right time. I think it comes down to making sure you’ve got good character and good, quality hockey players in place, and we’ve done a good job of that over the past few years. I think we’ve got the potential to win a national championship this year, as we’ve had for the last three or four years.”
Busniuk has led LU to a 2-2 record since taking over, but any perception of instability, Warden was quick to point out, is misplaced. “There’s a lot of stability with the people that have taken over, as there was stability when Joel was there,” he said. “I wouldn’t suggest that there is any instability now, at all.”
For now, Lakehead will proceed on the ice with Busniuk behind the bench, and will continue to work toward a championship. “We’re a good hockey team. [Joel Scherban] was a very good recruiter; arguably our best recruiting year of all time was last year– with no discredit meant to past years or classes,” Warden said.
But the team is looking toward the future. The Thunderwolves’s next games will see them hosting the Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Patriotes on Friday, November 9 and Saturday, November 10. Busniuk will lead the boys through home stand, likely for the rest of the season, and, the ‘Wolves hope, through a championship.
Indeed, the puck has dropped on a new period for Lakehead’s varsity hockey program. “There will be challenges,” Warden said with a smile. “We need to let the dust settle and make sure we’re fully prepared.”