After spening the last years of his minor hockey career with the Central Ontario Wolves and Oshawa Minor Generals, Ben Kerry is thrilled to be back playing in front of hometown crowds at Scugog Arena as a rookie defenceman with the Port Perry MoJacks.
Although the 5’11” 175 lb. blueliner did suit up in four games with the MoJacks last season, he noted that there has been an adjustment period as he transitions to the COJHL.
“It’s a lot different environment from Midget ‘AAA’,” Kerry explained to The Standard following the MoJacks’ recent 6-0 win over the Bruins in Uxbridge. “At this level, the game moves a lot faster and every player is good. And, most are a lot stronger than you would play against in minor hockey. The time I spent with the team last year has helped a lot, but it’s still a big difference at Junior ‘C’.”
He made an immediate impact this season, scoring the MoJacks’ first goal of the season in a 7-3 win over Lakefield in September on a shot from the point. Currently, he has one goal and one assist, seeing action in all 12 games Port Perry has played thus far, but he will be looking to add more offence as he gains additional confidence with his game at the Junior ‘C’ level.
“Scoring the first goal of the year at home was great just to get the monkey off my back. I’ve been trying to balance offence with defence and make plays at both ends of the ice. Hopefully I’ll be able to chip in some more goals and assists as the season goes on,” added Kerry.
MoJacks head coach Clair Cornish praised Kerry’s work ethic and desire to expand his role with the team when speaking with The Standard.
“Ben has been a great addition to our club, he’s always here on time and ready to learn. That’s a big part of our culture and he exemplifies that.”
Cornish explained that he envisions Kerry growing into a steady two-way contributor to the team for years to come, eventually becoming a player similar to team trainer Ryan Beattie, who spent four seasons with the MoJacks, appearing in more than 160 games as well as being a key contributor for the Cougar Cup champion team in 2011.
“Right now, Ben’s doing a good job as he continues to find his way with this team and at this level. The best comparison for his game would be Ryan Beattie, a hardworking and extremely coachable guy that could chip in at both ends of the ice, that comes ready to work with a positive attitude whenever he steps on the ice,” added Cornish.
Right now, Kerry is relishing the chance to be a junior hockey player in his hometown in front of his friends and family at Scugog Arena.
“I love being able to play here in Port Perry, coming out here to our fans cheering is the best feeling. Everyone is really excited and it’s a lot of fun to be able to play in your hometown.”
This season, with the MoJacks boasting a talented group of newcomers, including several of his teammates from last year in Oshawa, adding to a strong returning core; Kerry is hopeful that the MoJacks will be a contender in the race for the COJHL championship.
“There are a lot of great guys on this team, and we’ve got some real talent. Hopefully, we’ll be able to give our great fans the type of deep playoff run they’ve been wanting for the past few years.”
This past weekend, the MoJacks looked to get back on track following a pair of losses. After dropping a 2-1 decision to Uxbridge in a ‘Battle of North Durham’ last Sunday at home, the team hit the road on Tuesday, Oct. 20, venturing to the shores of the Ottanabee River for a match-up against the surging Lakefield Chiefs.
Goals from Andrew Pickering, Mitchell Gustavsen and Dan Harris kept the MoJacks in contention, but they would ultimately fall by a final score of 4-3.
Heading back home to Scugog Arena, the MoJacks hosted the first-place Clarington Eagles on Sunday, Oct. 25.
After 20 minutes of play, the Eagles held a 2-0 lead, with timely saves from goalie Blake Shaw keeping the MoJacks in contention.
The tide shifted in the second period, with a much more physical effort from the home side as they harassed the Eagles all over the ice.
With just under six minutes to play in the middle stanza, Connor MacEachern drew the MoJacks to within a goal with a sharp angle shot.
The third period saw the MoJacks come close to tying the game several times, but the comeback was not to be, as Clarington escaped with a 2-1 win.
Following the game, Cornish was pleased with the way the team had played, and is hopeful for continued improvement from his charges.
“This is about the process and a new landscape,” Cornish said. “If we can keep working hard and getting better every week, hopefully we can build on this performance and keep up the mentality we brought to the game today.”
- The MoJacks head to Keswick on Friday night (Oct. 30) looking to scare up two points against the Georgina Ice in a 7:30 p.m. tilt. On Sunday afternoon, it’s Round 3 of ‘the Battle of North Durham’ with the Uxbridge Bruins visiting Scugog Arena for a 2:25 p.m. matinee match-up.