WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWNY) - The Watertown Wolves are holding their first week of scrimmages and practices with the hope of having a season after the first of the year.
The Wolves were on the ice Wednesday afternoon for day three of their five-day training camp taking place at the Watertown Fairgrounds ice arena.
This week was the first time the team as a whole has been together on the ice this season and Wolves coach Brent Clarke has been impressed with what he’s seen so far.
“Hockey IQ on this team has been pretty good so far,” he said. “They’ve picked up the systematic stuff, you know, different kind of things we’re trying to implement throughout the week to make the scrimmages better structured.”
The Wolves had intended to scrimmage every day this week, but Clarke says due to limited numbers and to keep the players fresh, he decided to not scrimmage either Wednesday or Thursday.
Despite that, Clarke says the intensity level during practice has been through the roof.
“Unbelievable,” he said. “Every day it’s been getting better and better and just the core guys that we have here from last year and, you know, helping the young guys and the young guys come in excited out of college, ready to play and out of juniors ready to play from all over the place.”
In a normal season, once camp wrapped up the team would jump right into their regular season schedule, but due to COVID and the start date of the season being pushed back to January 15, the players will head their separate ways after Friday and return in early January.
“Yeah, it’s definitely a change from year’s past where you used the training camp as sort of a springboard into the season and that’s where you kind of get all your systems in and the fundamentals down and then you can kind of build from there,” Josh Koepplinger said, “so it is going to be a little bit different, kind of getting that foundation and then going home for a little bit, but I think it’s important that we all came here and got on the ice together so that way when we start up again in January we’re ready to go.”
The Wolves players and coaches are hoping Friday is not the last time this team is together for the 2020-21 campaign and say they feel fortunate to be one of the few teams around on the ice practicing and preparing for a possible season.
“It’s definitely fortunate given the year we’ve all had,” Austin Washkurak said. “It’s been tough -- throughout the summer you haven’t been able to play and practice the same way you could in the past and to get back out there and see some game action the first couple days of this camp is -- been missing it for sure, so it’s been great.”
The Wolves close out camp with a scrimmage at 10 a.m. Friday that’s closed to the public, but will be available online.