Aeros look at the past to help their fu­ture

The Recorder & Times (Brockville) - - SPORTS - JONATHON BRODIE

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.

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