Former Axemen Darryl Moxam joins Laurentian University coaching staff

Character, experience key for LU men

By Ben Leeson, Sudbury Star

Craig Duncanson is the new head coach of the men's hockey team at Laurentian University. JOHN LAPPA/THE SUDBURY STAR/QMI AGENCY

Craig Duncanson is the new head coach of the men’s hockey team at Laurentian University. JOHN LAPPA/THE SUDBURY STAR/QMI AGENCY

While building the first Laurentian University men’s hockey team in 13 years, head coach Craig Duncanson has focused as much on what’s between prospective players’ ears and inside their chests as on what they can do with their hands and feet.

“We have recruited extensively and surrounded ourselves with as many quality ju nior players as possible, guys who have been captains in leagues across Ontario and a few from out west and from Quebec,” Duncanson said. “These are leaders, captains and that’s how we’re trying to create that culture, by adding good character people.

“We want to build our program so that we’re known as a successful, classy, hard-working organization. We want to produce as many graduates as possible and create an atmosphere where they can thrive and be leaders in the community.”

Few recruits have been announced, however, because many commitments so far have been made with a handshake and a nod, as opposed to a letter. They’ll be made official, Duncanson said, as the team gets closer to its season opener this fall.

“What commitment letters do, basically, is tie kids’ hands,” he said. “In order to go somewhere and to even accept an award from another league, I have to sign off on it. What I’m telling guys is if you shake my hand, you don’t have to sign any thing, because if a player doesn’t want to be here, then I don’t want him here. Our group only wants players who share our vision. If not, then why would we want to hold them here?”

That group now includes assistant coaches Darryl Moxam and Dave Clancy. Like Duncanson, both can draw on many years of playing and coaching experience.

“Dave has a wealth of experience as a scout and as a coach and he’s able to analyze the game very well,” Duncanson said. “Darryl has a broad playing career, he has been to a Memorial Cup, played in the CIS and coached a team at the Dudley Hewitt Cup. He’s a bit younger than Dave and I, but he’s got a CIS degree and experience at the highest level of junior and university hockey.

“To be honest, we don’t always agree on everything, but I think that’s a healthy way to operate and to develop a program and it will help us to be successful. We have a really good cross-section of ideas.”

More still will come from the mind of Barrie Moore, who will join the staff on a part-time basis. Like Duncanson and Moxam, he played for the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves before moving on to the pro ranks and played 39 games in the NHL for Buffalo, Edmonton and Washington.

“He has a lot of experience in the National league, as well as the American league and in Europe, so he’ll bring that perspective,” Duncanson said. “He’ll work with the guys one-on- one and help them hone their game, find out what they want to accomplish and show them ways to do it. And he’s got his MBA, which he earned while playing in Europe, and I think it’s important for the guys to be around someone who has had that experience of getting a post-secondary education while playing.”

While preparing for the 2013-14 OUA season, Duncanson has taken part in alumni events and met several people who played for Laurentian before the university’s hockey program went on hiatus in 2000.

“There’s a lot of history there and I look forward to being part of revitalizing that,” Duncanson said. “There are a number of people around the university who are excited to put on these games and make each one a true event and something unique for Northern Ontario. This is a junior hockey town and a good one, but we want to add something different and bring that college and university athletics exper ience to Countr yside Arena.”

Look for a story on the Laurentian women’s team in Saturday’s edition of The Star.