The New Jersey Titans are ready to begin the 2019-20 season, marking their fifth year in the Garden State. Last year the team finished with a record of 31-26-3 and fell just one game short of advancing to the Robertson Cup Tournament in Blaine, Minn. Head coach Craig Doremus, entering his fourth season with the organization, answered some questions prior to the team’s opening series against the Maryland Black Bears.
Before the new season begins would you like to briefly reflect on last year?
Craig Doremus: I thought last year was a good year for our organization. Obviously not the end result you dream about but another positive step in the right direction. Yes we came up one win away from getting an opportunity to play for the Robertson Cup but we will use that experience to jump start us this year. We had a “younger” team last year with only four 20-year-olds and we return a good amount of veterans for this season. Additionally we moved plenty of kids on to college hockey and at the end of the day, our ultimate goal is to be the best franchise in the country regarding player development.
You have 16 players coming back this year (including the return of Matt Cameron). What are your expectations for them?
CD: Our expectations for the returning players are to make sure we carry the experience and devastation from last year as motivating factors this year. We also are big on our program and culture here in New Jersey. There are certain expectations and responsibilities that come with being a Titan and we expect our veteran players to pass those habits and experiences down year to year. Our goal here since day one is to make this a special place to play, we want Middletown to become a destination for all junior hockey players to come and develop and move their game onto a higher level.
There will be many new fresh faces on the team. Are there any incoming players you feel could make an immediate impact on the start of the season?
CD: It may sound cliché but we expect all the new additions to contribute to our team. We know that it takes a village to get the job done. We have prided ourselves on the depth of our roster. It’s a complement to our hockey staff especially our scouts who take pride in our tender, draft and free agency process. Make no mistake about it, each guy will have to contribute in big ways if we are going to have a special season here in New Jersey.
During the past four seasons the Titans NAHL team has made 59 NCAA commitments. How do you feel about that and what does that say about the team, organization and the quality of players you have brought in?
CD: From my time with the Titans we have made it a priority to make sure player development was at the forefront of what our “mission statement” was. We want to contend for and win championships but not at the expense of players developing and moving on. From the way we construct our roster, to our practice plans and player schedules we have always tried to put development at the front.
I am extremely proud of the players we have had here and the accomplishments at the college level. The relationships forged here and now continued as they go through that part of their career is the most special part of this “job”. The fact that so many of them have been able to move on and upward in their career speaks volumes about them, their families and is also a complement to our scouts who have done a tremendous job identifying and recruiting not only great hockey players but even better people.
As you get ready for Friday night’s game, what will be your expectations for this team?
CD: Friday will just be the first step in our journey. Each game is important and each point is valuable. We have had our team meetings internally as camp opened and progressed. The guys know what we expect on a day by day basis, they know what we expect on a personal basis and they certainly know what our organizational goals are this season. We want to make sure we put our best foot forward each day. We have lofty goals that extend deep into May, but we know the work in September is just as important.
The season will start on Friday night when the Titans face the Maryland Black Bears at 7:00 p.m. at Piney Orchard Arena. They will play again the following night at 7:45, and both games will be available to stream on hockeytv.com.
Photo Credit: Pete MacDonald