I recently spoke with General Manager Kyle Raftis about our Dogs of Winter and aside from a press conference from Dictator Doug, we should be ready for puck drop tomorrow against the North Bay Battalion.
Fans have been waiting for almost 2 years and everyone from the players, to the fans, to the staff working the games are chomping at the bit and looking forward to something to distract them from the tyranny we are living right now.
I asked Kyle what the ratio was regarding returnees as it is hard to speculate as some are at camp etc. and/or moved on. I thought and hoped it was going be half but he told me. ” I would say about a third.”
I responded in the manner of I guess we are basically going to be a very young team this season to which… thank goodness he reassured me “well it is not a matter of being young as it is about being inexperienced; we have a lot of 03’s that could have potentially played last year such as Brzustowski, D’intino, Savard and some 04’s like Toms and McConnell-Barker, so it’s kind of interesting”
In regards to the highly anticipated import ;Russian Kirill Kudryavtsev and how he is looking “he looks good, we are really excited for him to step in and show us what he can do and he’s in really good shape; a thick kid for sure. Kirill is a very skilled defender that plays hard on the defensive side of the puck and has poise and maturity.”
Regarding the goaltending tandem of Samuel Ivanov and Charlie Schenkel he confirmed that nobody has been designated the number one spot. “to be fair, both of them didn’t play last year and in camp and exhibition they have had their moments, but they’ll just have to battle it out in the crease”
I asked him if any particular kid has really caught his eye so far,” there were those that we knew would be really good from the onset, but I would have to say Landen Hookey has played really well and came in and was not really penciled in to make the team. He’s got great size, he’s skilled, and he’s a smart player …..we knew he had to work on his skating and 18 months later he’s kind of really turned it up in that area and we are very pleased with him so far.”
Asked whether he could assess in a general way how the kids may fit into the league standing wise…top, middle, bottom etc., he confirmed what I thought; it’s too early to tell. I had to ask the question anyway.
“Well not to dance around the question but it is really hard to predict this year as we can’t look back at last year and say this kid had a good junior B season etc….I know down the middle and on the blueline we are going to be very strong….we’ve got Kerins and Dickinson as 19 year old centers and that’s a great start for us …. we have a great group of OA’s that we have to whittle down to but at the same time, any direction we go we are going to be strong. We do have goalies that are inexperienced but hopefully when we get out of the gate, we can protect them as much as possible and help them build some confidence. It’s tough and hard to predict, but i think every team is in the same boat and also even with our first couple of exhibition games we didn’t have any 19 year old’s in the lineup so we’ll just have to see how they all develop and gel”
The last question was more political; I asked him if the organization has received much negative feedback or anger and frustration as many who have supported the team for decades are not able to attend the games either due to vaccination status and/or numbers of attendees at a capacity limit of about 2500.
“At the beginning there were a lot of questions about how is this going to work etc., but we didn’t get much blowback regarding things like vaccinations because it was not an organizational decision. It wasn’t even as much of a OHL decision as it was more of what the government says and the guidelines they gave for us to return to play”
So there you have it folk; a bit of insight from Kyle. We are gearing up for another Greyhound season and we know one thing, Kyle is a master of drafting and trades so we are in good hands in case we need to make a move here and there, and John Dean is a super well liked coach and administrator of great hockey knowledge and experience.
At this point, many of those who cannot attend tomorrow nights game, will either watch it via OHL live and I’ve already got my Greyhound jersey out and ready for action.
Shaw will carry dozens of games this year, but like every other year they don’t broadcast until about the second week into the season. I am going to have to inquire because it just doesn’t make much sense… to me anyway.
So until next time…..
Go Hounds Go