Former NHL star is special guest at Wolves preseason practice

Watertown Wolves

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Wolves held a practice Tuesday in preparation for the Federal Hockey League season ahead.

There was a special guest was on hand to help welcome the team.

While the Wolves practice at the Watertown Arena, Tim Connolly skated along with them.

Connolly was an 11-year veteran of the National Hockey League, spending most of his career with the Sabres along with stints with the Islanders and Maple Leafs.

Connolly's visit was by invitation from team owner and league commissioner Don Kirnan.

"I came up here because of my old coach, who coached me most of my young life," Connolly said. "Mr. Kirnan has got the Wolves up here in Watertown and asked me to come up and talk to them, talk to them about what it takes to get to the next level."

"I told his parents at 12 years old that he was going to be a first-round NHL draft pick," Kirnan said. "Of course he was, but he was also the number-one pick for 1981 birth year in the world -- he was a pretty good player at an early age. Yeah, I did see it early and told his parents that."

Connolly has few regrets from a career that was cut short by injury.

"I enjoyed the game, I loved the game, it wasn't a hard job for me, it was always fun -- playing, working hard," he said. "I was fortunate to be able to play in the NHL, I wish I'd still be playing right now, but I'm on to a new chapter in my life."

The Wolves are ready to get the season underway with preseason games this weekend.

"Yes, we are on for Friday and Saturday with some exhibition games," Kirnan said. "We have great turnout with players."

Kirnan says he's happy with the health of the league itself.

"It's better than it's ever been before, it's stretched out a little bit," he said. "We are all the way to Columbus, Georgia, we are all the way to Delaware, another team in Michigan --

we have a lot of interest for expansion next year also. Things are working better than ever for the league."

Tickets can be purchased online or at the game. Kirnan says there's a season ticket party Wednesday night at the Watertown Elks Lodge and season tickets are still available.

The Wolves have home preseason games Friday against Delaware and Saturday against Elmira.

The regular season opens up at home on October 25 and 26 against Mentor.

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