The Fort Erie Meteors hit the ice this week and head coach/general manager Nik Passero couldn’t be happier.
The Meteors opened training camp Monday at the Leisureplex with about 30 players, including 10 from last year’s squad.
“I’m so excited just to see how happy the guys are,” Passero said. “We have the guys from last year who are moving in and the buzz around town is palpable. Honestly, it’s exciting.”
Tyler Decoff, Thomas Gualtieri, Michael Angrilli, Hunter Zoccoli, Marcus Regina, Bryson Essery, Antonino Pugliese, Josh DiFrancesco, Derek Smyth and Kevin Gould return from last season’s team which showed well in exhibition, non-contact scrimmages before things were shutdown due to the COVID pandemic.
“Everyone wants to come see us play, especially because we did well last year with the older guys and that goes a long way,” Passero said.
The Meteors are one of six teams in the Golden Horseshoe Conference of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League that will be in action at the Doug Burr Tournament beginning Friday in Pelham.
“We are three to four spots away from being full,” Passero said. “Going into these next two tournaments (Pelham, Niagara Falls) that’s what I’m going to be looking for, to fill those spots and wait for the trickle-down effect from the OHL. I wanted to be in a good position in case training camps were cut short or whatever. You never know. I didn’t want to be caught without enough guys.”
Passero said Josh Smith has been brought in from Prince Edward Island to solidify the netminding.
“We’re on track there and now we’re looking for some young forwards to fill out our lineup,” Passero said.
Passero said that while he’s glad to be back, it’s been a long time coming.
“I’ve been way too anxious,” he said. “There is only so much you can prepare for. Even sponsorships and advertising, that’s hard too because we don’t know how many fans there will be and what we will be allowed to do.
“There has been too much time.”
Passero feels the pandemic has made everyone appreciate sports even more.
“I think it’s going to make people respect and understand what sports does for young people and even adults,” Passero said. “There are a lot of adults who have contacted me telling me they can’t wait to get back in the rink and they don’t even play anymore. I think people are really going to respect the time and effort that sports takes on your life.”
Meteor showers: The Meteors are still looking for billets. Contact Passero at 1-413-406-8647 . . . Passero plans to announce his captain and four rotating assistants this week . . . Former Thorold Blackhawks captain Chris Risi will be doing skill sessions with the Meteors . . . The Meteors lockeroom has been updated.
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