Rubino returns to captain Blackhawks
Nicolas Rubino doesn’t take his responsibilities as the new captain of the Thorold Blackhawks lightly.
“It’s definitely an honour and a dream almost of mine,” the 20-year-old Welland native said. “I’m hoping to lead this team and we have a good group of guys too.”
Thorold coach/general manager Scott Barnes named Rubino captain after the former Blackhawk returned following a season with the Miramachi Timberwolves of the Maritime Junior Hockey League.
“He’s going to provide character and leadership, everything you want out of a 20-year-old,” Barnes said. “He does things the right way, he’s done it that way since he was 17 with this team.
“He’s a real good asset for our organization.”
Rubino has chatted with Barnes about what the coach expects from him and his leadership group of assistant captains Harris Goan, Cooper Lobsinger and Declan Fogarty.
“He wants me to have a good connection with him and a good connection with the guys and keep everything on track and make sure everyone is checked in,” Rubino said.
Rubino is well aware how crucial leadership in a dressing room can be.
“It’s pretty important, especially for the younger guys if you have a guy you can look up to who can tell you what to do and lead the way.”
Rubino is thrilled to be back in Thorold where he enjoyed success in the 2019/20 season potting 23 goals and 52 points in 46 games.
He moved out east last season with former Blackhawks Nick Gidney and Spencer Blackwell to be able to play in one of the few leagues which was able to suit up during the COVID pandemic.
“It was pretty good hockey,” he said. “With last year being one of the only leagues to play, it was loaded up (with talent).
“I feel good coming in this year after playing last year. I think it will help a bunch.”
Rubino’s return was the start of a handful of players coming in from junior A, including Lobsinger and Fogarty.
“It’s a really nice addition,” Barnes said. “He was kind of the first of the older guys to make the jump back and then with him doing that we wanted to have some other guys come back from junior A. It’s made for a nice little trickle down effect and it starts with Nick.”
The Blackhawks open the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season Friday in Niagara Falls before hosting the St. Catharines Falcons Monday, Sept. 27 in their home opener at Thorold Arena on their new home night.
Barnes has high hopes for the upcoming campaign.
“The one thing we have this year that we haven’t had is leadership. We have five 20-year-olds and a bunch of 19s. We’re an older team where most years were a younger team. It’s a little bit different, a little different attitude in that room right now.
“I think they know they have a chance to compete and win.”
The Blackhawks are solid in net with returning veteran Noah Fortuna, who will be backed up by Nico Balice.
“The biggest asset of our team is probably our goaltending with a 19-and 20-year-old,” Barnes said.
On defence, Barnes feels the Hawks have the best depth they have had in years.
“We think we have eight real solid D men who can play right now,” he said.
It’s more of the same up front.
“We have 13 strong (forwards) and whoever is going, is going. It’s going to be a lot of competing,” Barnes said.
Barnes said he feels this year’s squad features a good mix of talent.
“Offensively, we’re going to be OK up there,” he said. “We’re pretty deep. We have some pretty skilled forwards and from what some other coaches we have played against mentioned, is how fast we get in on top of the D men and how fast we are with our speed and forecheck. That’s just exhibition games and not systems, it’s just how our guys play.
“I think we’re going to be a tenacious team and we have a little bit of size, too.”
2020/21 Thorold Blackhawks
Declan Fogarty (A)
Nicholas Rubino (C)
Harris Goan (A)
Cooper Lobsinger (A)
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