Otters Open Orientation Weekend
The future of the Otters invaded Erie this weekend as the team held its annual orientation camp for many of their newly drafted players.
The prospects grabbing the most attention on Day 1 were 2018 fourth overall pick Jamie Drysdale and his Toronto Malboros teammate Ryan Alexander who was this year's 3rd round pick. Alexander joined the camp despite a commitment to Arizona St. in 2020.
"Definitely changed my mindset about Erie," said Alexander. "All their draft classes have been really good and all the coaches and staff were really nice to me and its a great organization."
Drysdale signed his OHL standard player contract on Friday afternoon and says he has been talking to his best friend since the draft about making the switch on his future in hockey.
"On draft night I went over to his house and showed him my Erie [Otters] hat and jersey," said Drysdale. "I was like buddy we got to go here. Since that day I was just pushing him and doing my best to get him over here. I'm going to keep doing that and hopefully, he comes."
Both Marlboro players took part in the Team Blue skate, however, there was talent throughout the morning with Team Gold.
2018 2nd round pick Frankie Carogioiello skated in the first group and got his first taste as a member of the Otters. He enjoyed his first action in the Erie sweater.
"It was a great experience and great skate," said Carogioiello. "It was a lot of working on the little things and all the little skills that make my game better."
With 43 players at the orientation many looking to leave an impact on the coaches and scouts in attendance. However, with few spots left on the Otters roster due to the little turnover from a year ago, not many may get a chance.
One player looking to add to the defensive corps is Brendan Kischnick. He signed his OHL contract back in September of 2017. The 5'9' defenseman hopes he can find his way into a suddenly talented backend unit.
"I think I'm a good puck mover," said Kischnick. "I'm not afraid to get physical. I just hope to help the team as much as I can."
Then looking to the men tending the net, the Otters return both Anand Oberoi and Daniel Murphy from this season. Despite the depth in net, goalies like Aidan Campbell from the Pittsburgh Penguins U15 team looks at this weekend as a chance to make his case for a look in net.
"I just play hard out there and hopefully they'll ask me to skate with the team sometimes and hopefully keep going and play games for them," said Campbell.
As the weekend moves on though and the competition to impress grows, Erie Otters General Manager Dave Brown stressed the importance of creating a relaxed atmosphere.
"I think the key component for this is to make sure guys feel comfortable," said Brown. "We're trying to make sure guys are able to do things that they're going to do in games that are going to impress us in games....The message we sent was to 'Don't be afraid to be great.' We may make mistakes but don't be afraid to be great. I was really impressed with our skill level."
The Erie Otters will conclude their orientation camp Sunday with a Blue and Gold scrimmage at the Mercyhurst Ice Center. It is open to the public and begins at 12:30.