They were much closer to their downtown home – Mercyhurst Ice Center instead of three hours away at Morgan Firestone Arena in Ancaster, Ontario (their camp home before the 2012-13 season). But even in hockey, there is no place like home.
They finally have their own ice (where they won an OHL-best 30-of-34 home games in the regular season and finished 35-4-1 overall in 2013-14), their own dressing room (which has many comforts of home, including a comfortable couch and nice-sized flat-screen TV in the lounge, as well as the amenities needed to prepare to play before and during the season), their own trainer’s and equipment rooms, and anything else they need, within walking distance. So the players should feel comfortable while battling for a chance to stay here for the 2014-15 season.
Having EIA at their disposal makes scheduling camp workouts easier, especially when you’re dealing with a group of players that’s expected to be between 50 and 60 for at least the first day or two. Along with the on-ice workouts, they could use Jerry Uht Park next door for off-ice workouts as they have in the past, even though the Erie SeaWolves have the final three games of a four-game series against Bowie from Aug. 26-28 (the first three days of Otters camp).
I suspect having camp at EIA also will save Otters management, namely managing partner and general manager Sherry Bassin, money that was spent on reserving ice time at Morgan Firestone and MIC the past two years.
By the way, the positive impact of preparing for the upcoming season will linger on after camp ends with a midday practice Aug. 31. After camp ended the past two years, the Otters spent at least a portion of those preseasons practicing at Ice Center of Erie and JMC Ice Arena. That was a logistical challenge for the team.
But now the Otters finally are back home for camp. Now that the arena renovations are behind them, there will be plenty of work to do around there.
– Victor Fernandes
Up next: Overagers need to be the Otters’ best players. Are RW Joel Wigle and D/W Cory Genovese up to the task, or should Bassin look elsewhere to fill those spots? Read all about it on the Shootout blog and Twitter at Twitter.com/GoErieHockey on Saturday.
* Let’s talk Otters: Join Victor Fernandes for the training camp edition of Otters Talk on Aug. 25 from 7-8 p.m. by heading to the Shootout blog. Can’t join in at that time? Post your questions on Twitter at www.twitter.com/GoErieHockey or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org, and then check out a recap of the chat on Shootout and Twitter.