WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Wolves were on the ice Thursday morning at the Fairgournds Ice Arena as they have been over the past couple of months getting ready for a 2020-21 season that will now start on January 15th due to COVID-19.
Despite that, Wolves Coach Brent Clarke has been putting the players that can make it through the paces.
”Yeah, each day is different, so you gotta see how many guys are here and could be 2 could be 8. You never know. And we just work on some game situations stuff, goal scoring, which we need obviously, and getting our feet, speed going and just things that are gonna help us benefit down the line,” said Clarke.
The team began 5 days a week, hour long practice sessions a few weeks ago, building up to the arrival of the entire team on November 30th when the Wolves main camp kicks off.
Most of these players come in for 5 days to get on the ice with their teammates and then head back to their homes, where they continue to work out on their own.
”I think it kinda shows how serious the players, the coaches, and owners are taking the season despite having to deal with what’s going on in the real world, we’re still taking our hockey serious and we have a big season coming up,” said center Fred Hein.
On Thursday, the Wolves had 10 players in attendance for practice. And while there are pros and cons to not being able to have the entire team on the ice together, Wolves defenseman Justin Coachman says players like him, who live in the area full time, and are at the rink every day, have adjusted to the situation.
”Like he was saying, there’s some pros and cons. We’re able to get a lot more touches out there, working the systems with just the guys that we have, and then as soon as more guys start coming in, we’ll be able to teach them as well,” said Coachman.
In a normal year, the Wolves would be done with training camp and playing regular season games, but this season, the only game the Wolves are playing is the waiting game. And for some of the players, it’s been almost 9 months since they’ve played in a contest.
”Yeah, it’s crazy. I think this is the longest I’ve ever gone without playing a hockey game. I haven’t played a game since about March, so it’s been a weird summer, but just hopeful to get things going here soon,” said forward Brady Heppner.
And when the team does hit the ice for competition, the players like what they’ve seen so far in practice.
”Great so far, great so far. Really good group of guys and everything’s been awesome so far. Lot of skill, lot of speed, really excited,” said Hein.
”Very good, very good. It’s a very strong team. Clarkie can put a really good team together, he’s shown that in Elmira and in Danville so I’m excited,” said Coachman.
Watch the video above for highlights.
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