While Taylor Harnett is pleased with his Waywayseecappo Wolverine’s 4-0 start this season, his message is simple to his players.
“It’s one game at a time, to quote an old coach cliché,” the GM/head coach said with laugh. “The good start is excellent, but our focus is getting better every day. It’s that simple. We also talk about the importance of humility.”
“You need humility to be successful. Check your ego at the door and think about the team first.”
Harnett admits Wolverines’ early success is due in large part to the past off season.
“Obviously, it was a very tough season for everyone,” Harnett said of 2017-18 which resulted in only eight Wayway wins in 60 games. “As an organization, we sat down and put together a plan on how to improve and move forward. Recruiting players was our top priority.”
“It (recruiting) wasn’t necessarily about getting the best player, but we were looking for the “best” people who wanted to come here and help us be a better, competitive hockey team. We invested a lot of time into recruiting.”
Harnett packed his travel bag last summer and recruited as far east as Nova Scotia, into the United States and other Canadian provinces. He was determined to rebuild the Wolverines into a competitive team on a nightly basis.
Currently, the Wolverines have nine returnees; one being goaltender Isaac Labelle, who is sporting a spiffy 4-0 record and 1.75 GAA. Labelle, who hails from Saskatoon, was acquired in a multi-player deal with Dryden around last Christmas. Wolverines also got Morgan Poirier (D) and Brandon Lawson (F), who are key contributors this year’s early success.
“At the end of last year, teams were asking if we were looking for goaltending,” Harnett says. “I said we were ok between the pipes. Isaac has been very good for us this season, but that’s what we expected from him. We knew he would be solid for us.”
Likewise Drew Anderson, who was named the Recycle MJHL Player of the Week last year, currently sits second in league scoring.
Harnett came to the Wolverines near the end of November. Suffice to say, his hockey patience was put to the limit as the club struggled both on and off the ice. While the hockey product has been improved, so too has the Wolverines’ relationship with the community. New marketing director Erik Swar says it took a bit of convincing, but businesses in the area (Russell and Shoal Lake) have really stepped up in sponsorship.
Swar says nearly all the rink board advertising has been sold, and there’s a real air of positivity.
“It’s still very early in the season,” Harnett says cautiously. “Obviously, the good start has been really positive. But honestly, the conversation with the team changes weekly, if not daily. We all know it’s early, but the good start (4-0) is something we can build off of.”