The New Jersey Titans are in their third week of training camp and will start the preseason this weekend with games against the Maryland Black Bears and the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL. Head coach Craig Doremus answered some questions regarding the team’s training camp, Brody Medeiros representing the NAHL in the Sirius World Cup and what he hopes to see in the upcoming preseason contests.
What has been your initial impression with the team now that you’re three weeks into training camp?
Craig Doremus: “Right now there’s excitement, at this point in the year everyone feels good about their group and is excited to get to work and play another opponent to measure yourself, I think that’s an important part of it. For us the expectations are obviously high, we haven’t tip-toed around it and we expect a lot from this group. Our dreams are high and we want to make sure that we are putting our best foot forward starting from day one of the season. We have a lot of returning veterans here and I think the guys have come into camp with a chip on their shoulder, and we’re just really eager to get after it.
Do you think the veterans–who fell one game short of advancing to the Robertson Cup Tournament last year–will have more motivation to advance to Minnesota this season?
CD: You would hope so. Guys have been there and been close, been a game away, so you would hope that’s the case. I think you have to beware of overconfidence at times, and at times we’ve seen that seep in here and it’s something we’ve addressed. We don’t want to be comfortable and we don’t want to be complacent, so for us it’s making sure that we always have our eyes on the prize and our focus is the right way, and that our intensity and integrity is always on point.
How well do you think the newer players are adjusting not just to the NAHL level of play, but in the locker room with the Titans’ veterans?
CD: I think that’s been good. The chemistry on the team has come together nicely, they’ve spent a lot of time together both on and off the ice and I think the group has come together. I think it’s an easy group to get along with, the veteran returning players have been very welcoming to the newer players and I think the new guys, obviously with their talent and ability, have made it easy for them to assimilate into the dressing room. For us, that’s been the easiest part of camp, which is seeing the guys come together, mesh and communicate.
What does it mean to have Brody Medeiros representing the Titans in the Sirius Junior Cup, and now returning for the remainder of training camp?
CD: I think for Brody, something we spoke about as he got prepared for the tournament was just the life experience that you’re getting. Being in awe and appreciative of the opportunities that being a hockey player affords you. Bobby and I spoke about it this morning, just how many places we’ve been lucky enough to visit due to our hockey career both playing and coaching. For Brody it was the same thing, how often do you get a chance to go to Russia, experience that and not only on the ice but the cultural part of it as well.
As far as him coming back to the Titans, Brody is a big part of our team in our dressing room and on the ice. He’s a returning veteran who has his eyes on the prize both from a team standpoint and in a personal standpoint. So I think it’s a huge addition to our team in every facet, and just super excited to have him as a part of the group.
What are your thoughts on the Titans’ upcoming preseason games against the Black Bears and Phantoms?
CD: For us, we’re kind of exploring right now. We want to see some guys who will make an impression on us. Practices are very different from games, and having the ability to go out there and compete for an opportunity to be on the Titans this year is a good one for each guy in that dressing room and hope that they take advantage of it. We need to find a way to measure guys, see where they are at in comparison to other teams and in comparison to other guys in the dressing room.
For us it’s an evaluation period; from a team standpoint we want to make sure we’re taking the right steps forward, tactically to do what we’ve got to do to be successful, and then personally just evaluation part of it and going through the camp and trying to get down to our 23 number is an important part of where we’re at. Not to reiterate the word too much, but it’s exciting to see the guys and where they’re at as they measure themselves up against their peers.
Both preseason games will take place at Piney Orchard Arena this weekend. Saturday’s tilt against the Black Bears will start at 7 p.m., and Sundays’ contest against the Phantoms will begin at 10 a.m.