By Tina Comeau
Well, not yet, but close.
Up until now the Yarmouth Junior A Mariners have been building their upcoming season’s team on paper. Next week they start the process of building the 2013-14 squad on the ice when the team’s training camp gets underway.
Players and their parents will arrive for a meet and greet on Wednesday, Aug. 21.
The next morning at 8 a.m. the camp gets underway with on-ice practices and off-ice conditioning running from Aug. 22-25.
Mariners head coach Laurie Barron says he expects 35 to 40 players to show up for camp. He says there is always a lot of anticipation for the upcoming season when training camp rolls around.
“I always find it makes for a short summer when you don’t win a championship. We’ve been looking forward to getting back at it basically since the disappointment of our last loss,” says Barron.
After finishing their 2012-13 regular season play in second place in the MHL’s Eastlink Division, the Amherst Ramblers knocked the Mariners out of their first round of playoffs in Game 6 of the best-of-seven series.
Barron says the team is now looking ahead, not behind.
“When we put our ghost roster together we’ve got a great returning group, and with the draft that we have, we think the future looks really bright,” he says. “A lot of the people will recognize the returning names, but I think they should be real excited about the kids that we’ve drafted, the new names that are coming to town.”
The Mariners training camp is happening earlier than it’s taken place in past years. A reason for this is because the team had been invited to take part in a tournament in the United States, the Super Summit Series. Unfortunately travel logistics fell through and the team isn’t able to go. Still, Barron says getting the invite was a big deal.
“It was pretty cool that we got invited because it was 12 teams from across North America,” he says.
Starting this week the QMJHL teams are holding many of their training camps and this may pull away from the players that will be coming for the Mariners camp, although it’s never really known in advance what the impact may be.
“A lot of players will be at the Q draft. We drafted the best players available so it’s always a bit of a question mark if we’re going to see them or not,” Barron says. “But if we do see them they’re definitely quality players.”
The week after the Mariners training camp, the team will be holding its annual summer hockey school for minor hockey-aged players. Because the training camp had been moved up by a week, the hockey school was pushed back by a week. Barron says the players in town for the training camp will be helping out during the hockey school.
By this time the Mariners’ roster will have been cut down to around 25 players, as the Mariners prepare from some home-and-away exhibition series with the Bridgewater Lumberjacks and the Valley Wildcats.
The Valley team, playing out of Kentville, is new to the league this season. The team takes the place of the Metro Shipbuilders. For years the Metro team was unable to draw in the fan support needed to sustain it in the city market, where it competed against draws like the Halifax Mooseheads and university teams.
The first of the exhibition games will be on Friday, Aug. 30 when the Yarmouth Mariners and the Bridgewater Lumberjacks meet up in Liverpool. On Saturday, Aug. 31, the Mariners host Bridgewater for a 7:30 p.m. game.
On Friday, Sept. 6, the Mariners host the Wildcats for a 7:30 p.m. game. The next evening, on Sept. 7, the Mariners travel to Kentville.
The Yarmouth Mariners will open their regular season on lucky Friday the 13th on the road in Bridgewater.
The team’s first home game of the MHL regular season goes Saturday, Sept. 14 when the Mariners host the Lumberjacks.