The 26 in 26 series features a look at all 26 teams in the NAHL for the 2019-20 season, with a new team being highlighted daily, leading all the way up until the start of the regular season. 26 in 26 looks into each NAHL team and will include video interviews with 26 coaches in the NAHL, as they provide fans with their expectations and outlook for the season, including taking a look at their strengths as a team and thoughts on the league. It will also take a look back on last season and how each team fared and what they accomplished.
Head Coach: Joe Coombs (7th Year)
2018-19 record: 35-17-8, 78 pts. (2nd in the East Division)
2018-19 leading scorer: Alex Frye (56 pts.)
2019 Playoffs: Lost to the New Jersey Titans in the East Division Semi-Finals, 3 games to 2
2019-20 Division: East
First regular season game: Wednesday, September 18th vs. Austin Bruins
Home opener: Friday, October 4th vs. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights
The Jamestown Rebels were a win away from their fourth consecutive East Division Final appearance when the New Jersey Titans mounted a furious comeback, winning three straight games to win the best-of-five series and suddenly end the Rebels season. Despite the early playoff exit, the season was still a success as the team completed their first campaign in their new home of Jamestown.
“I think in a lot of ways we exceeded expectations. Moving to Jamestown was huge ordeal for our organization. We lost 19 players from the year before and having to replace that many players in this league is very difficult,” said head coach Joe Coombs. “We grew as an organization and I think we created a solid foundation in the city of Jamestown. From a Jamestown Rebels standpoint, I would call it a success but it’s important to continue to build off of what we did a year ago.”
Nine Rebels from the 2018-19 roster have earned a NCAA commitment including leading scorer Alex Frye, who will be playing his college hockey at the University of Alaska-Anchorage. Goaltender Ryan Keane will be moving on to the University of Connecticut and Caleb Price will be a Sun Devil as he will be attending Arizona State.
Once again Coombs will be looking to replace the majority of his roster for the 2019-20 season. Returning for the Rebels up front will be Eric Olson. During the 2017-18 season, Olson scored nine times and added 11 assists to finish with 20 points in 56 games. He only played in 11 games last season but was red hot as he notched eight points. “He’s a very competitive kid who I believe will be our captain. I expect a lot from him in the leadership department. He plays a good 200 foot game, said Coombs of Olson. From New Baltimore, Michigan, Noah Finstrom potted eight goals and 29 points while playing in all 60 regular season games.
On the blue line, Seth Bergeron and Nate Clark will be the veteran anchors. Bergeron is representing the Rebels for Team NAHL in Sochi this week after notching 15 points in 50 games a season ago. Nate Clark played in 54 games during the 2018-19 season, scoring a goal and adding 11 assists.
In the crease, the starting job is Noah West’s to lose. The native of Pittsboro, Indiana was 12-7-5 in 24 games last season. He sported a 2.29 goals against average, a 9.11 save percentage and had three shutouts. “He’ll be given every opportunity to be the guy and I think he can be. He’s a great young goalie, he matured as the year went on last season. I think he should take another step this year,” Coombs said.
After a small setback in the playoffs last season, the Rebels have been out on the recruiting trail to gear up for another run at the Robertson Cup. “The goal around here is always the same, get as many players as possible committed and win a Robertson Cup, that’s never going to change,” Coombs said. “That’s our expectation here, it is every year. Doing things the right way, following the process, being the best team we can be. We want to get better, we’re going to start somewhere small, hopefully end up somewhere big.”