The American Hockey League isn’t locked out and players across the league hit the ice on Friday to begin the fight for a spot on the roster. With a widespread “lockout” depression taking over the hearts of hockey fans, it’s easy to forget that other leagues exist. Sure, you have college hockey, but it doesn’t hit the same levels of excitement that a professional player brings to the ice. American Hockey League games are the place to be this NHL off-season.
With 6 teams within 1.5 hours of Boston, trying to pick a team to cheer for can be a daunting task. For New Englanders, the obvious choice would be to continue seeing black and gold and cheer on the Providence Bruins (Boston affiliate). But with Providence a bit of a hike down one of our MA highways, having a Shark attack could be a better option for some.
The Worcester Sharks (San Jose affiliate) are skating their camp at the New England Sports Center in Marlborough, MA, with pre-season games at Holy Cross and skating regular season games at the DCU Center. Perfect locations for the large amount of “western” MA hockey fans.
The NHL lockout “cons” far outweigh the “pros” from a fan perspective. The major one being no season, it’s messing up fantasy hockey leagues, the sky is falling, the world is ending and 2012 is an icicle to the heart. Okay, yes, that’s a bit dramatic. However, “pros” do exist, for example, the AHL offers fans a chance to see quality hockey, with a variety of teams, for a reasonable cost. Take this chance to love a new player that you may have overlooked had the NHL been in session. It’s possible that your new AHL favorite could be roughing it up in the NHL next season; you’ll have the memory of “I remember when player X had a breakout year.” It’s an opportunity to see the stars of tomorrow today.
Why go teal? For hockey fans west of Boston, east of Springfield, north of Providence, etc. the Sharks offer a promising group of guys to rely on this upcoming season. Like any team, the Sharks boast a strong Canadian contingent of players. Although, 11 Americans are currently on the training camp roster, 3 of which are Massachusetts natives (John McCarthy, Alex Tuckerman and Edwin Shea).
While hockey might not be back and playing at the NHL level, quality talent is hitting the ice and fans should be hitting the arenas to cheer them on. So, fire up the zamboni, it’s full steam ahead.