Big presence, resume, voice

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Jim Baxter is a big man, with a hockey resume to match - and an even bigger voice.


"I am vocal," said the new Tillsonburg Thunder coach Friday evening at the Kinsmen/Memorial Arena following an 8-6 WOAA Men's Hockey pre-season loss to the visiting Tavistock Royals. "You'll hear me all year.

"You'll hear me more than anybody."

Baxter's hockey history indicates he knows well of what he loudly speaks. A defenceman from Brantford, Baxter played three years on the blueline in the OHL with Oshawa, was drafted by both the Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, spent five years in the East Coast Hockey League ("Up and down in the 'A'" (AHL)) and then two seasons playing professionally in Germany.

Back home, married with a couple of young children, Baxter has been coaching minor hockey for the past few years, a five day per week commitment. The fact senior hockey demands roughly half of that, Baxter estimates, along with familiarity with many Thunder players and the fact he was approached, has led him behind Tillsonburg's bench for the 2013/2014 season.

"Pretty much somebody threw my name out," he said.

Baxter follows Tim Christo, who Baxter says 'was a good coach,' who contributed to the franchise.

"Nothing against Tim, just a little different approach."

The mutual introduction thus far has been comparatively brief: two practices and Friday's exhibition tilt. The Thunder were scheduled to complete a home-and-home pre-season mini series Saturday back in Tavistock, before heading into the regular campaign.

"And you can't get your full roster into each game," said Baxter, a senior hockey reality he heads into knowingly. "People have lives.

"We'll figure it out," he added. "All we have to do is get better each game and hopefully by the end of the year, we have."

Baxter's simply stated goal on the eve of the season, is to have a good year - 'a fun year.

"It's a lot more fun when you're winning," he concluded. "That's what I'm here for."




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