This morning at 9:00 AM the New Jersey Titans officially will begin their sixth training camp in franchise history, and their fifth under head coach and general manager Craig Doremus.
The abruptly cancelled 2019-20 North American Hockey League’s (NAHL) season still stings the coaching staff and returning players. Back on March 11, the Titans defeated the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Knights (now the Danbury Jr. Hat Tricks) 5 – 2 to give them their 38th win of the season, the most in team history. The team was looking forward to the last eight regular season games and a long run in the Robertson Cup playoffs. Who knew that it was going to be their last game, particularly for a team filled with age out players? Then the pandemic hit. And hard.
It was a tough pill to swallow. Despite the disappointing ending, it was the best season on the ice with a team high 77 points in 52 games. It also was the best off the ice in terms of where it really matters: NCAA college commitments. The Titans led the NAHL with 19 NCAA college commitments with 80% of them being Division I commitments.
“Obviously, last year was a special year with a special group of young men” stated Doremus. “We had grown together and as individuals through some years with the Titans. It was a pleasure to come to the building each day and go to work with the guys. They were extremely goal driven, team oriented and trusted in our culture. When I say they were special I don’t just mean in terms of on ice ability and talent I mean as people as well. They will all be so successful in life because of their character and morals. I was fortunate enough to get to work alongside a great coaching and support staff and we got to coach a great group of young men. The season while cut short due to the pandemic will always hold a special place in my heart due to the people and the success, we all had together” said Doremus, who was named the East Division’s General Manager of the year.
Despite still being in a pandemic, the 2020-21 training camp officially will begin at 9:00 am at the Middletown Sports Complex. The Titans will bring in approximately 30 players to camp. “We had a great off season that culminated with a very intense, high level main camp and we have some really high-end players here in Middletown. We are extremely eager to get to work and see the players compete for a spot on our final roster” stated Doremus.
With only four returners from last year’s team, Doremus feels that all his players pique his interest. “The new guys, the returners. Each has their own story and background and goals. As always, we believe we identified really high character young men who will come here to New Jersey and continue our culture and legacy. With last year being cut short I think everyone is itching to get after it and hopefully has an even deeper appreciation of what each of us get to do in terms of hockey as a career path” said Doremus.
With the new season set to begin the weekend of October 9 (the schedule will be officially announced soon), Doremus’ goal is the same as it is every year: “Ultimately our goal here is to help as many kids as possible achieve their dream of playing college hockey. We make it a priority to develop the guys on the ice while also helping them grow and mature as young men off the ice. We put the players first here in terms of the amenities and how they are treated like professionals. Our other goal is obviously to win the Robertson Cup. I think winning has to be the ultimate “team” goal while developing and growing as individuals. “A rising tide lifts all boats” moto where the better we perform as a team the better each individual will look along the way” concluded Doremus.