Season opener starts on the Road
The Aston Rebels begin their East Division title defense this weekend as the team begins its season on the road playing two games against a new division foe: the Northeast Generals. The two teams will play each other 12 times this season, with half of the games being played within the first month of the season. Both games will be played at the Canton Ice House in Canton, MA with a 7:30pm start time.
The Latest with the Generals
The Northeast Generals will begin their inaugural season as a member of the North American Hockey League. The organization has had a rich and proud tradition of fielding excellent Tier III junior teams in the NA3EHL AND NA3HL. The team will play its initial games in the Canton Ice Arena in Canton, MA before moving to the $53 million dollar New England Sports Village in North Attleboro, MA, a Boston suburb.
The Generals will be coached by Bryan Erikson (who also serves as the team’s general manager), who has over 19 years of coaching experience. Erikson’s main goal will be trying to keep things realistic and simple during the first season. He also would like to accomplish the following: wanting to make the playoffs and be the hardest working team in the division to play against.
After the Rebels, the Generals will play Shreveport (another new team in the NAHL), Odessa, Janesville and Topeka in the NAHL Showcase. The Generals then will come to IceWorks to play the Rebels at the end of September and early October.
Rebels return nine players from 2015-16 championship team
Head coach and general manager Joe Coombs will be entering his four season at the helm (two in Rio Grande). All three years Coombs’ teams have made the playoffs, but his last year’s team won the NAHL’s inaugural East Division championship. The Rebels swept Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and Johnstown in the playoffs before eventually getting swept themselves to NAHL champion Fairbanks Ice Dogs.
The Rebels will be returning nine players from last year’s team: Andrew Bellant, Drew Blackmun, Dom Garcia, Brennan Kapcheck, Dom Garcia, Gvido Jansons, Ryan Solomon, Michael Underwood, Carter Woolley and Evgeny Yakovlev.
United States Air Force Academy commit Dom Garcia will be the team’s captain. He is surrounded with veterans loaded with skill and leadership. Bellant had 31 points in 50 games last year (13 goals and 18 assists). Yakovlev had 29 points while Garcia had 27. Blackmun is an outstanding center who will be called upon to anchor the special team units.
The team’s defense will continue to be its strength. Kapcheck, arguably the best pound-for-pound defenseman in the league, will be paired with equally as talented Jansons, who is an incredible skater and has a cannon of a shot. Solomon is a strong two-way blue liner while Underwood is prototypical stay-at-home defenseman.
The team increased its speed in the offseason by adding Gianluca Esteves, Dustin Manz, Andreas Maier and others while it solidified its Dcorp with Carter Dwyer and Reid Miller.
After the Generals, the Rebels will take on Janesville, Bismarck, Minnesota Magicians and Wichita Falls in the NAHL Showcase and then return home on September 30 to unveil the East Division championship banner.