Aeros look at the past to help their future
The Athens Aeros are a new team trying to build off old memories.
Led by captain Josh Maley, the Aeros have just seven players on their current roster that were part of last year’s Athens team that made a strong playoff push by getting through the wildcard round and then taking down perennial powerhouse Perth Blue Wings in the CCHL2 division semifinal.
There are 15 new players on the Aeros roster this time around, but that doesn’t mean the 2017 playoff run is lost on anyone on the team.
Athens coach JB Ryan pointed out that a lot of his rookies watched the Aeros playoff games last year and saw the community support with a packed Centre 76, the excitement that filled the arena for their local team. Although, this year’s rookies weren’t on the ice for any of that they were still part of it, joining the crowd and rooting for their hometown.
Now, in some ways, they’re trying to still do that, looking to push the name on the front of the jersey instead of the back.
“A lot of the kids from this year’s team were watching the playoffs from last year and just saw the community support, how the community got around the team, the crowd and how valued they are,” said Ryan. “Last year in the Perth series, you saw how committed the players were to just doing the little things to make the team successful. Maybe not necessarily make them look good, but guys played their roles perfectly and did whatever they had to do to win.”
The Aeros won their seasonopener 5-3 over th Char-Lan Rebels last weekend, but have since dropped their last two games against the Ottawa West Golden Knights and the Carleton Place Jr. Canadians.
Athens will host their homeopener on Saturday against the Wesport Rideaus at 7:30 p.m. after facing off with the Rideaus on the road Friday.
Early in the off-season, Ryan said, the organization was unsure what the team would look like and how they would do this year. There was just too many unanswered questions at that point.
With a giant push from general manager Norm Racine putting in a lot of work in the summer to replace all the players that left, the Aeros now know the type of talent they got and have a clear goal of making it to the playoffs.
From there – if there’s anything the team can learn from last year – if they can get hot at the right time anything can happen.
As has been the staple to Athens past success, this year’s team is predominantly local with 16 of the 21 players having suited up for the Rideau- St. Lawrence Kings. It’s actually 17 if you include Ryan to that stat as he’s also coming from the RSL ranks and guessed he had already coached about 10 players on this Aeros roster before joining the team in the off-season.
“They ’re friends that bond,” said Ryan about Kings players growing up through the hockey ranks together. “When you start winning guys want to stick together.”
Aeros fans will be hoping their players’ past success will continue for this Athens team as well.