19 Teams in 19 Days – Atlantic Attack

Another season is underway and as teams hit the ice in their quest for the 2011-2012 NRL Championship title, we’re taking a closer look at each team in the league. The new series is called 19 Teams in 19 Days and we would like to encourage you to join in the discussion on Twitter by following www.twitter.com/nrllnr or by sending us an email at NRLchatter@nationalringetteleague.ca

Atlantic Attack

Last season finish: n/a

Head coach: Julien Leger
Two questions with coach Leger:
What would it mean to you, as a coach, to win the NRL championship this season?
My ultimate dream is to win an NRL Championship! It would surely be the highlight of my coaching career and also extremely special for an Atlantic Canadian team to win a championship in its inaugural season. Honestly, there is no better feeling than winning. This season is a developmental and learning year for the players and coaching staff of our team, because we are all technically, rookies. Realistically, our objective is to finish with a winning record of at least 0.500 and make the playoffs. Our goal is to win a medal at next season’s Championship in the province we are based out of which is, New Brunswick.

What does your team have to do to win an NRL championship?
I think to win an NRL championship, it begins with solid goaltending. We will have to play sound defensively and be effective on the counter-attack. We will also have to make sure we don’t miss too many scoring opportunities. Being a new expansion team, we’ll have to adapt and learn quickly on how to play in this league in order to have success.

The NRL nugget to know about this team:
The whole team is from New Brunswick except for Kendra O’Brien, who is from Prince Edward Island. O’Brien has also made Team Canada in the past – she was on the taxi squad in both 2004 and 2007.

The question to be answered:
Will this team be competitive? In other national competitions, the East Coast teams have typically been perceived as not competitive and an easy win for the stronger teams to the west of them. But this perception is slowly changing and the teams from the East are holding their own. Time will tell in the case of the new Atlantic Attack.

What happened in the off-season:
A new team was born and a section of this country came together and showed support for this new team. The excitement generated by the East Coast being awarded an NRL franchise is nothing short of amazing.

The (hidden) gem:
While you won’t see her on the ice, one of the Attack’s gems is undoubtedly the team’s media rep, Krystle Hussey. Since the moment the team was awarded the franchise, Krystle has worked tirelessly at promoting the team and building excitement in the entire region. From media coverage to discussion in the team’s Facebook group, there is a lot of noise being made.

Reason for optimism:
As the Atlantic entry in last year’s NRL Championship tournament, the Attack placed 9th – the highest standing ever achieved by a team from the East Coast. The NRL roster has ten new faces and is somewhat different than the team that played in Cambridge, but key players like Josee Doiron and Chantal Landry, along with Jasmine LeBlanc in goal will certainly give the Attack some strength.

Reason for concern:
Expansion teams usually have a tough row to hoe. This team’s oldest player is 24 and while several have played for the Atlantic entry at the National Championships, none played in the NRL last year. The learning curve will be steep.