Erie Otters Slide Into Preseason
OHL team set up for the 2019-20 season
Saturday, Aug. 31
Summer in Northwest Pennsylvania is beautiful. For many, it means walking the dog around Presque Isle, taking the family to a SeaWolves game, or maybe just relaxing with a cold beer on the patio at one of the city's many breweries. Although colder weather is beginning to set in, luckily we have the Erie Otters to warm our spirits.
In a smaller city like Erie, sports are important. They provide the opportunity for the city to rally behind a common cause, bringing citizens and family together. This is exactly the sense I gathered when talking to Aaron Cooney, broadcaster and marketing professional for the Erie Otters. Cooney expressed that this year the Otters are trying out a lot of new activities intended to elevate the fan experience beyond the inherent thrill of hockey. Once again, there will be free skating after every Sunday home game (which proved to be a success last year), with new additions like augmented reality-designed scavenger hunts and stations for fans to get pictures with Erie Otters players. As Cooney puts it, "we are in the entertainment business as well, not only the sports business."
Even with all the excitement off the ice, Cooney expressed that fans should be just as enthusiastic for what the organization has in store for this season on the ice as well, as young talent begins to jell into a league contender. Jamie Drysdale — who at just 17 years of age looks like a strong candidate to be a top 10 pick in the NHL Draft — should be a cornerstone of a promising Erie Otters defense. Other exciting additions to the team include forward Connor Lockhart, who was the third overall pick in the 2019 OHL draft. Like Drysdale, Lockhart is sure to be a playmaker this year for the Otters and someone to keep an eye on.
All in all, whether you are a die-hard hockey fan or just looking for something fun to do with friends and family, the Erie Otters hockey organization has something for you. Under the leadership of head coach Chris Hartsburg, the preseason puck drops Aug. 31 against the Hamilton Bulldogs, with another exhibition game the following afternoon. The Otters will wrap up their preseason with games against the London Knights on Sept. 13 and 14 in Ontario. The first game of the regular season is set for Monday, Sept. 20 against the Sudbury Wolves. — Patrick Winney
Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 2 p.m. // Erie Insurance Arena, 809 French St // Free // For tickets and a full season schedule, go to ottershockey.com