Mariners training camp hitting the ice

Tina Comeau
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By Tina Comeau



When the Yarmouth Junior A Mariners’ training camp skates onto the ice on Monday, Aug. 27, head coach Laurie Barron will be telling the players vying for a spot on the team that this year the Mariners are looking to finish what they started last year.

“Obviously the big thing is to try and out-do last year and to do that you have to win a league championship and that’s what we’re coming to camp with – one more win,” says Laurie Barron.

One more win – specifically one more goal – is all the team had needed last year to win the MHL Kent Cup. They came so very close to fulfilling that objective, forcing Game 7 of the Kent Cup Final all the way into three periods of overtime before the Woodstock Slammers scored the winning goal. And this was after the Mariners had rebounded from a 3-1 series deficit in the playoffs not once, but twice.

Barron says the momentum from last season is with the team as it prepares for this season.

“I truly believe that. In talking to our returning players, you can just tell by their voice that they are excited to be back,” he says.

There have been 42 players invited to training camp, which is a larger group than the previous year. They are arriving in town this week with a  Sunday evening sign-in and a barbecue/meet and greet planned. Some players are already here.

After getting the players settled in with their billets, on Monday, Aug. 27, the attention shifts to the ice. On-ice sessions are planned for Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday of next week, with off-ice fitness sessions on Wednesday and Thursday. Two blue versus grey games are part of training camp. One game goes the evening of Wednesday, Aug. 29, the other on Saturday, Sept. 1. Both games run from 7-9 p.m. with free admission.

“Then we’ll cut it down to a manageable number, I would guess somewhere between 25 and 28,” says Barron. From there two exhibition games will shave down the roster further. The Mariners will be in Bridgewater to play the Lumberjacks on Wednesday, Sept. 5. On Saturday, Sept. 8 they’ll host the Lumberjacks for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Barron says this year’s training camp is different from past years because it extends well over a week. In previous years the camp took place over the long weekend at the start of September so you were having to cut down the roster within three days.

“I just didn’t think that was fair,” says Barron.

There will be 10 returning players from last year’s squad at camp: Colin Campbell, Rodney Mahoney, Jared Hicks, Derek Larade, Billy Hartley, Zack Henry, Braden Mercier, Matt Tomah, Kevin Reid and Kraig Pasher.

With neither Charles Grant or Chase Gaudet returning between the pipes this year, the Mariners will be looking for two new goalies, in addition to adding new forwards and defensemen to the lineup.

Barron notes that as they look for players and make acquisitions, the search expands near and far – including from both within Canada and the United States.

For instance, the Mariners have acquired WHL defenseman Cody Castro of the Portland Winterhawks.

“He’s a big defenseman, he brings some major junior experience and from what I’ve talked to his major junior coach, he’s just a great kid,” says Barron. Castro comes to team highly regarded as a tough and reliable defenceman.

Another recent deal resulted in the team acquiring left winger Jon Johannsen from Milton, Ontario, who Barron says adds size and experience up front.

Meanwhile, prior to the Mariners' camp, the Mariners' two territorial picks (both players from Shelburne County) have also been attending QMJHL camps after being drafted in the spring. Brendan Nickerson was a third-round draft pick by the Sherbrooke Phoenix and Morgan Messenger was a sixth-round draft pick by the PEI rocket. 

Barron says with Mariners training camp around the corner it is an exciting time for the club, which this week is hosting a hockey school for minor hockey-aged players. Many returning players and some of the ones invited to camp have been helping out with the hockey school.

The team picked up around 200 new season ticket holders following last spring’s playoffs, and expected to see more season ticket packages sold when they went on sale to the general public this week.

In November the area will host the World Junior A Hockey Challenge.

And although the Mariners didn’t win the league championship last season, they are still the reigning Bent Division champions.

“It’s an exciting time for hockey in this area,” Barron says, “and I know the coaching staff is really excited about getting back at it.”


Mariners training camp schedule

• Monday, Aug. 27:

Group 1 on ice 8:30-9:20 a.m.

Group 2 on ice 9:30 -10:20 a.m.

Group 1 on ice  5-5:50 p.m.

Group 2 on ice  6-6:50 p.m.

wrap up meeting 7:15-7:30 p.m.

• Tuesday, Aug.  28:

Group 2 on ice  8:30-9:20 a.m.

Group 1 on ice  9:30-10:20 a.m.

Group 2 on ice 5-5:50 p.m.

Group 1 on ice 6-6:50 p.m.

wrap up meeting 7:15-7:30 p.m.

• Wednesday, Aug. 29:

Group 1 on ice at 8:30-9:20 a.m.

Group 2 on ice at 9:30-10:20 a.m.

Off ice for both groups 3:30-6:30 p.m.

• Thursday, Aug. 30:

Both groups 10-11:30 a.m. off ice

Blue vs grey game 7-9 p.m.

• Friday, Aug. 31:

Group 2 on ice 8:30-9:20 a.m.

Group 1 on ice 9:30-10:20 a.m.

Group 2 on ice  5:30-6:20 p.m.

Group 1 on ice  6:30-7:20 p.m.

• Saturday, Sept. 1:

Meeting 9-9:30 a.m.

Blue vs grey game 7-9 p.m.

Cuts and meeting after the game


• Wednesday, Sept. 5:

Exhibition road game in Bridgewater


• Saturday, Sept. 8:

Exhibition home game vs Bridgewater, 7:30 p.m.



Organizations: Mariners

Geographic location: Bridgewater, Canada, United States Ontario Shelburne County

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