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Smith says Herd ‘vastly improved’

It comes as no surprise that Bobby Smith has a glass-half-full evaluation of the Halifax Mooseheads’ positioning at the QMJHL holiday break.

It comes as no surprise that Bobby Smith has a glass-half-full evaluation of the Halifax Mooseheads’ positioning at the QMJHL holiday break.

But while the owner and rookie head coach recognizes that — on the surface — his team’s 15th-place standing isn’t all that much more impressive than its back-to-back 18th-place, last-overall finishes, he’s focusing elsewhere.

Not just on their current three-game winning streak, but on their 13 victories overall, which match their full-season total from 2009-10.

“We are a vastly improved team (from last season),” said Smith, placing particular emphasis on the word vastly. “And we are doing it with a slew of young players.”

There are only five players on the roster 19 or older, and the team’s average junior age is just 17.7. Only one of the top six scorers is older than 18, and four of them are 17 or younger.

Since Smith took over from Cam Russell behind the bench in late October, they’ve gone 9-14-0-0 for a .391 winning percentage, slightly better than their previous 4-9-0-1 (.285).

Beyond the numbers, Smith was thrilled with the team’s progress in December, not just in the past three victories, but also with the ability to hang tough in close losses to national powerhouses Saint John and Quebec.

“The way we’ve been playing since Dec. 1, I’m extremely happy,” Smith said. “We have the type of game that a successful team has to play.”

With a 13-23-0-1 record, the Mooseheads are four points ahead of the 16th-place Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and six points behind the 14th-place Val-d’Or Foreurs.

So what will it take for Smith to call the second half a success?

“I’m hopeful we can move up the standings a couple of spots,” Smith said. “I’d like to get us in a position where we can play a first-round playoff series with a chance to have success — and doing all that while playing our younger players.”

 
 
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