As the Yarmouth Mariners continue to shape their roster for the 2019-2020 season, Matt Barron, a veteran player who has been a scoring leader over the years, is being given a stronger leadership role as team captain.
This year marks the fifth season that Barron will play on the junior A team. He started with the team during the 2015-2016 season when he was 16 years old – although his ties to the team go back to when he was a kid and helped out around the rink by filling up team water bottles before eventually getting to drink out of them.
Matt Barron is looking forward to his new role as team captain.
“I feel very honoured to be named captain of the team I grew up watching and admiring,” he says. “I’ve been lucky enough to have several great captains over the last four years and have been able to learn so much over that span. I’m really looking forward to leading this team and being someone the players and coaches can lean on.”
One of last season’s captains – whose time on the ice with Barron dates back to their minor hockey years – says Barron is a great choice for captain.
“Matt, as captain, will be great for the younger guys coming through the organization,” says Chris Goreham, who played his last year of junior A last season. “To have a guy like that who has spent four going on five years in Yarmouth is huge for them.”
In reality, Goreham says Barron has always been a team leader, even without a letter on his jersey.
“He has always led that team, even throughout our first years together,” he says. “There is no guy who deserves to wear the 'C' and lead Yarmouth more than Matty B.”
During the 2018-2019 regular season Barron lead the Mariners in points and finished third overall in the league with those 72 points, which broke down to 31 goals and 41 assists. Barron had led the Mariners in points the previous season as well with 49 points.
In the Canadian Tire Cup playoffs last season Barron helped to propel his team to the league championship by contributing 17 points in 14 games, which included six goals and 11 assists. He was named the playoff’s MVP on the night the Mariners swept the Campbellton Tigers to win the league title.
Matt isn’t the only Barron on the team. His father Laurie is the head coach. Never one to play favourites where his son is concerned, when Laurie Barron contacted the Vanguard newsroom he joked that he was looking to announce that “some Barron kid is going to be our captain.”
Laurie Barron has seen his son’s progression on and off the ice, both from the perspective of a coach and a father. He also coached him during some of his minor hockey seasons.
While he was likely always deserving, Laurie Barron says throughout his years coaching his son he never personally gave his son a letter.
“I’ve always said you don’t need a letter to be a leader,” he says. “But his progression as a leader and being more vocal in the dressing room has really come far.”
And like fishermen in this seaside community who constantly talk fishing when they’re on the wharves, neither Barron can escape the talk of hockey, whether at the rink or at home.
“He’s obviously grown up in a hockey household. Everybody else has to worry about hockey for two, three of four hours a day, he gets to hear about it every waking hour,” his dad laughs. “But I don’t have any worries that he’s not ready or that being captain is viewed as a gimmie.”
The Mariners, meanwhile, continue on with the training camp process, with Laurie Barron saying, “Things have gone well. Obviously we’re a little bit younger this year, but I really like how we’re coming together.”
The coach says with the 20-year-olds who graduated last year (there were eight who moved on from junior A) combined with some trades that occurred in the off-season, there are around eight returning players from last year’s team at camp. Still, he doesn’t see this as a rebuilding year.
“I would say more retooling than rebuilding. And in the off-season I thought we had a really good recruiting year,” he says.
The team had their first exhibition game of the pre-season on Aug. 27 versus the South Shore Lumberjacks, in which the total Yarmouth roster was made up of rookies looking to secure a spot on the season roster. Yarmouth won the game 7-6 in a come-from-behind win.
“It was an exciting game. One of the players said it was the most fun he’s ever had in hockey,” Laurie Barron says. Local Yarmouth player Ryan Semple, a Mariners territorial pick heading into this season, was named first star of that game. "He's got off to a great start. Just a real hard-working kid. He's going to be a solid player for us," Barron says.
Thursday night, Aug. 29, another exhibition game was slated to be played in Bridgewater. After that Yarmouth will host the Valley Wildcats on Saturday, Aug. 31 and will travel to Valley on Sept. 7 and then back to Bridgewater on Sept. 8 for more exhibition play.
There were some cuts made in advance of the start of the exhibition games and more are to come.
“After Saturday night we’ll probably be down to around 23 or 24 players,” Laurie Barron says. By the time the regular season rolls around he expects to be at around 21 players.
The coach says he’s been impressed by those who have attended camp. “They’ve all been in great shape and the work ethic has been there,” he says.
As for the regular season, for the Mariners it starts with a home opener against Truro on Sept. 13 and another home game Sept. 14 against Miramichi.
Going back to the other Barron on the team, Matt says like everyone he’s anxious to get started.
“I can’t wait to get this season underway as I am super excited about the new role and defending our MHL championship,” he says.