By Tina Comeau
While there are people who may be bemoaning the end of summer, Nicklas Lindstrom isn’t one of them. He can’t wait for summer to end.
“It’s been a long summer,” says Lindstrom who has played defence with the Yarmouth Junior A Mariners the last two seasons.
In fact, he says, it has been too long since the Mariners were last on the ice – the team having been ousted from playoffs after the mini-series last March.
“When you’ve got such a passion and a love for hockey, when you go five months without it, it’s real long,” he says. “Much longer than it has to be.”
But this is now changing as the Mariners training camp opens at the Mariners Centre on Thursday, Aug. 28. Returning players from last year’s squad coupled with new and familiar faces will be battling it out for spots on the Mariners roster.
“It’s an exciting time,” Lindstrom says.
Billy Hartley agrees.
Playing on the blueline for the Mariners during the last three seasons – with stints with the Q’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles sandwiched in there as well – Hartley can’t wait to get this new season started.
“I’m excited for camp starting up, for sure,” he says. “There are new guys coming in, a couple of new coaches, big changes in the organization. I feel the fans should be happy about that because the guys that we’re bringing in are going to be key guys for hopefully a long championship run this year.”
While the team will be adding key players to its roster this year, it has obviously lost some from last season as well. Gone are last year’s 20-year-olds, such as playmaker and scorer Braden Mercier and captain Colin Campbell who set a new team record for the most goals by a Mariner when he scored his 99th goal last March in the last regular season game of his four-season Mariners career.
Fan favourite Morgan Messenger also isn’t returning to the roster. Now living in Alberta, Messenger requested a trade, which was finalized on Aug. 27, with Messenger going to the Whitecourt Wolverines of the AJHL in return for two forwards and a defenceman.
While one of those players is still at major junior camp, two are expected to join camp in Yarmouth in a few days.
Hartley says the Mariners shouldn’t have any trouble filling the void left by players who have moved on.
“I feel like the coaching staff is doing a great job in filling those roles where we have a void from last season,” he says.
Also on the training camp roster list are a number of players with local ties from Yarmouth County, Shelburne County and Clare. Some played with the team last year. Others are new invitees. The list of locals includes Hunter Hurlburt (D), Jared Murphy (F), Morgan d’Entremont (F), Ray Jacquard (F), Jordan Messenger (F), Christian Tufts (F), Scotty Perry (F) and Luke Emin (G).
Also at camp is the Mariners’ territorial pick from the June draft, goalie Colby Muise of Yarmouth, who also recently attended the Screaming Eagles camp in Cape Breton. He was drafted by that QMJHL team in May.
Among the new faces at camp is Tyler Brown – a recent trade acquisition from the Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL. Brown has also played in the Q with Quebec and Blainville-Boisbriand. While many of the new faces at camp only arrived in town on Aug. 27, Brown has been here all week, helping out on and off the ice with the Mariners annual hockey camp for minor hockey-aged players.
“I’m looking forward to it,” he said about training camp opening. “Hockey is hockey wherever you go, but you’ve got to keep going and work hard.”
He says he’s heard a lot about the Mariners, both about the organization and the fan support the team draws.
“I hear it’s awesome,” he says.
Among the many players helping out during the Mariners hockey school has also been Sean Fraser, a forward with the team last season. About the hockey school with the younger players, Fraser says, “We like being a part of the community. We get support so it’s nice to give back. You get to know them and they get to know you.”
About the training camp, Fraser says, “I’m pretty excited to start the new season. We’ve got some big guys coming in. We’re putting together what seems to be a big group of guys and we’re going to be intimidating this year. I’m really excited to be on this sort of team.”
The training camp consists of on-ice practices, intersquad games, fitness tests and exhibition games.
For players such as Hartley, who become part of the newest crop of 20-year-olds in the MHL, he’s equally eager to see the season begin.
“Hopefully it’s going to be a long run because for some of these guys, it’s our last kick at the can. It’s weird to say that, being here for a while now and it’s kind of scary,” he says. “I feel like we need to bring a championship back here.”
MARINERS TRAINING CAMP
Registration and a meet and greet BBQ was held at Brunswick Bowling Lanes on Aug. 27.
The on-ice portion of the camp opened at 8 a.m. on Aug. 28 with a goalie session. Here is the training camp schedule:
• 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