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Carefoot takes over behind Rangers bench


It was a week of upheaval for the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League’s Parkland Rangers.
The club fired head coach Arnie Caplan and assistant coach Dylan Storey on Tuesday and named Tyler Carefoot as the interim head coach for the remainder of the season. Jerron Kyle will serve as assistant coach.
Rangers manager Uwe Jansen said the decision was made by the team’s board of directors, but he would not go into the reasons for the firings.
“It was a board decision. The overall direction of the team over the last month or so, the board wasn’t all that happy with it. So it made the tough decision. And it was a tough decision. I can’t sugarcoat it. It was a very, very tough decision,” he said.
Carefoot, a former Ranger, believes in the program and feels it fills a need in the Parkland.
“It gives the kids an opportunity, our elite kids, the players that want to play at higher levels of hockey,” he said.
“When they came knocking, it was something that I needed to do. It was my way of giving back to the game. You talk about paying it forward and this is my way of paying it forward and giving back to the program that was good to me.”
There are some good people on the board, Carefoot added, that are hard to say no to. While the circumstances were unfortunate, he said decisions have to be made and it was one that he decided to make.
Carefoot made his debut on the Rangers bench, Wednesday in Brandon against the Wheat Kings, which continued a whirlwind week for everyone involved.
After practicing with his pee wee team, Tuesday afternoon, Carefoot was walking out of Credit Union Place at about 6:35 p.m., when he received a call from the Rangers offering him the interim head coach position, which he accepted.
He asked when he would start and was told the bus would be loading for a game in Brandon the next afternoon.
“So I literally had just the bus ride to have a chat with the kids and just go over some fundamentals,” he said.
That first game was a 3-2 win, snapping a six-game losing skid.
“It was a tremendous game. I give full marks to the kids considering the circumstances we were presented with. Our forecheck was just tremendous. Our back pressure was tremendous. And I thought our D had a good game overall,” he said.
“I thought Hayden Lacquette in Brandon was an all-star that game.”
Rylan Gibbs, Steven Arp and Jayden Jubenvill scored against Brandon, while Keaton Ziprick stopped 23 shots to record the win in goal.
Dalton Andrew and Mitch Thiessen replied for Brandon and Cody Creasy had 24 saves in the loss.
Carefoot’s first game at home was on Saturday against the Eastman Selects.
Michael Svenson staked the visitors to a 1-0 lead after the first period, but Brayden Kohlman tied it for Parkland just 14 seconds into the middle frame.
But Eastman broke the game open with three goals in 40 seconds and added another six minutes after that to take a 5-1 lead into the third period, where neither team could find the back of the net, giving the Selects a 5-1 triumph.
Drayden Kurbatoff, Matthew Egan, Cole St. Laurent and Zac Tetrault had the other Eastman goals.
Jayden Catellier earned the win in goal, making 31 saves, while Ziprick was tagged with the loss, making 36 stops.
“Eastman, they’re a big, heavy, fast team. I thought our first period was not bad. And then they scored three goals in 40 seconds. Again, full marks to the kids, because it was 5-1 going into the third and it would have been easy for them to quit. They chose not to,” Carefoot said.
On Sunday against the Southwest Cougars, the second period again proved costly for Parkland.
Already trailing 1-0 on a first-period goal from Braeden Lewis, the Rangers allowed four more in the second for a 5-0 deficit, with Hunter Wallace, Owen Harris, Nolan Wickham and Luke Robson netting the goals.
Arp put the Rangers on the board with seven seconds left in the second and Gibbs tallied late in the third to round out the scoring.
Kieran Stewart was called upon to make 25 saves, while Liam Jardine stopped 29 shots in taking the loss.
Carefoot feels the team’s our top players need to lead by example
“They need to lead the charge on our forecheck pressure and be relentless on our backcheck pressure, too. And we didn’t have that in the second period (Saturday). We had it in the third,” he said.
Against Southwest, Carefoot felt the Rangers had a reasonable first period, but again struggled in the second period.
“Unfortunately, they had some turnovers and they capitalized. But then again, going into the third period, it would have been easy to quit. And that is something this group obviously doesn’t want to do going forward. Again, we made it respectable,” he said, adding the team has to take a positive outlook when it comes to doing the small little things right.
“And that’s what I’m trying to do for the last few games that we have. Is just trying to be positive and giving them an environment that they want to have fun in,” Carefoot said.
Even before stepping behind the bench, Carefoot was full of admiration for the players for their commitment to the Rangers program, noting they come from different areas of the region.
“It would have been real easy for them to quit in October or November and go back to a different level of hockey. So I admire this group in many ways, none moreso than that, because they’re grinding it out. You’ve got kids driving in from Swan River and Russell. You’ve got kids coming from Ste. Rose and McCreary. And that’s because they want to be able to look back five years from now or 10 years from now when they get old like me and say that they played the highest level of hockey. And this is the highest level of hockey for (U18) and these guys are doing it,” he said.
“So we just want to give them some tools and help them develop to get to the higher levels of hockey.”
Carefoot has attended a few games over the course of the season and has coached some of the players and against others through minor hockey, so he is familiar with them.
“I’ve seen a lot of the kids, so I know a little bit about them. But sports is all about clichés. But it really comes down to intensity, compete, grit and playing the right way. You hear the higher level coaches talk about that all the time. We want kids to play the right way and just focus on the little details of the game,” he said.
“Some of the kids know me really well, so they know my approach. I like to think I can keep some of the kids accountable. I can be a cheerleader, but I can lay the law down, too. There’s a fine line, of course, but I think my approach is something that the kids are going to have fun with.”
The Rangers have two games this weekend.
On Friday, they are in Portage to face the Central Plains Capitals at 7:45 p.m.
The eighth-place Capitals are 13 points ahead of the Rangers and both teams have eight games left this season.
On Sunday, Parkland hosts Brandon at 1:30 p.m.

Doug Zywina