Coach Leslie, new and returning players get set for new season

Cliff Clinkscales and Mike Poole watch as new players participate in Hurricanes training camp this fall.
Cliff Clinkscales and Mike Poole watch as new players participate in Hurricanes training camp this fall.

The Halifax Hurricanes are almost set for their return to the hardwood.

After a heart-breaking Game 7 loss to the London Lightning in the National Basketball League of Canada finals last season, the Hurricanes are back to work and focused on winning for their Halifax fans. 

Hurricanes head coach Mike Leslie is heading into his third year at the helm of the franchise and is happy to see the Hurricanes fanbase continue to grow.

"I think we've really turned that corner now to really showcase a quality product on the floor with players who are passionate, who are highly skilled but also value being a community member as well as a professional basketball player," said Leslie.

Three of those players will be extremely familiar to fans. Veterans Cliff Clinkscales, Tyrone Watson and Mike Poole are Halifax's returning players for the 2018-19 season.

"It felt really good to be able to sign Cliff back," said Leslie. "He's been the face of the franchise for a number of years. He's committed himself to playing and finishing his career here in Halifax."

Leslie said for Clinkscales, it's a mix of loyalty and how he feels about his experience in Halifax.

"He's such a great leader on and off the court."

Watson is returning for a fourth season playing for a Halifax franchise and Leslie is happy he was able to retain the tough hybrid forward for another season.

"If you're able to have one of those on your team, they become a difficult matchup for the other team."

Poole is back for a third season as a Hurricane and is looking to expand his energetic, two-way game.

"He's really grown into a very successful player in this league," said Leslie, who expects Poole to blossom with a more expanded role in the upcoming season. He says Poole is embracing the opportunity.

With only a week left until tipoff, Leslie says training camp continues to go well.

"It's been an outstanding camp," said Leslie, who has been working with his players for the past several weeks. With only three returning players on this year's roster, he had to bring in new talent, which has arrived as advertised without disappointment.

 "When you have turnover like that, you're going to get a mix of younger players and older players coming in. You want to be able to manage that to a roster that can compete night in and night out with a chance to win a championship again."

He says players understand that is the expectation when they arrive here and that having his three veterans helps set the standard for winning.

With new players filling out the roster this year, Leslie says fans can expect to see the Hurricanes pushing the pace and looking for more threes in the upcoming 2018-19 campaign.

Look for the Hurricanes' final roster before the season tips off next Thursday, Nov. 15 against the Moncton Magic at Scotiabank Centre in Halifax. The game starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are available online at TicketAtlantic.com or their box office.

Season tickets are also available. Go to HalifaxHurricanes.ca/Tickets/Season_Tickets to learn more.