Yarmouth Mariners head coach Jim Bottomley. TINA COMEAU PHOTO
By Tina Comeau
Players trying to secure a spot on the Yarmouth junior A Mariners roster during the upcoming training camp may be nervous, but what the coaching staff really wants them to be is fearless.
“At camp the guy at the faceoff is fighting for that same spot. It’s not hard to tell who wants it and who doesn’t,” says Mariners head coach Jim Bottomley.
“I like players that play with no fear. You could have a lot of talented guys that won’t go near the net or won’t go into those dirty areas,” he says. “The guys who play with no fear, they come in hard all of the time and sooner or later they get their opportunities.”
The training camp opens Aug. 27. After starting out with practices and intra-squad games the camp will conclude in early September with a series of exhibition games against Bridgewater and Valley.
“Right now everybody is pretty fired up,” Bottomley says. There will be around 40 players, including players from last year’s team, draft picks and other invitees. The players will be divided into two teams, with four forward lines, six to eight defencemen and goalies on each side.
Players will be heading to Yarmouth from throughout the Atlantic provinces and perhaps some from Quebec, Ontario and Western Canada. There may be some local players at camp too. Bottomley says players are excited about the prospect of playing with the Mariners.
“When the kids check out Yarmouth and find out about it, they know it’s a great town to be playing in. There is so much passion here with the fans, and the crowds they get, so they’re excited about that,” Bottomley says. “A lot of players come from teams that are just drawing parents and a couple hundred fans.”
The Mariners, on the other hand, frequently draw home crowds of up to 1,500.
The Mariners don’t yet know if all their draft picks will be at their camp, as some who have also been drafted by major junior teams will be at those camps first. If, or when, they’re released from those camps they’ll head to Yarmouth.
“Their first goal is to land there, but within a day or two they’ve got to be ready to move to whoever owns them,” Bottomley says.
As for when the cuts at the Mariners camp will start, some players may be sent home after a couple of days if it is obvious they’re not yet ready for junior A or not the right fit for the team.
And while some players may lack confidence, there is something to be said for thinking you’re a sure bet if you’re not prepared to back that up on the ice, says Bottomley.
“I like guys that are well prepared. If you’ve got another kid who is kind of on the cocky side and they think it’s no problem, it’s going to be a little harder for those guys,” he says. “We want guys that are going to make the commitment. You know they’re going to be there when the chips are down and not just fade on you.”
When the camp is over, the coaching staff hopes to have a roster of around 21 players. The final make-up of the team, however, will be a work in progress until the MHL trade deadline in January.
Meanwhile, starting Aug. 25, the Mariners coaching staff and many players will be running the annual Mariners hockey school for minor hockey-aged kids. Bottomley is looking forward to this.
“It’s great for us on the team. There are a lot of talented players and it is important that we teach and give something back to the younger kids,” he says. “Hopefully they’ll be future Mariners.”
Mariners training camp schedule
The Yarmouth Mariners training camp will get underway on Aug. 27.
Players will report to camp on Wednesday, Aug. 27 for registration at 6 p.m. There will be a meet and greet as well as a barbecue for players and billets. Ice times will start the next day.
The ice times for the camp are as follows:
• Thursday, Aug. 28:
8-9 a.m. Goalies
5-6 p.m. Team Blue
6-7 p.m. Team Grey
• Friday, Aug. 29:
8-9 a.m. Goalies
4-5 p.m. Team Grey
5-6 p.m. Team Blue
• Saturday, Aug. 30:
9-10 a.m. Team Blue
10-11 a.m. Team Grey
7-9 p.m. Intrasquad Game
• Sunday, Aug. 31:
9-11 a.m. Intrasquad Game
• Monday, Sept. 1:
5:30-7 p.m. Practice
• Tuesday, Sept. 2:
Home exhibition game 7:30 p.m. vs Valley
• Wednesday, Sept. 3:
2:30-4 p.m. Practice
• Thursday, Sept. 4:
Exhibition Game @ Valley
• Friday, Sept. 5:
Exhibition Game @ Bridgewater
• Saturday, Sept. 6:
Home exhibition game 7:30 p.m. vs Bridgewater