Thunderbirds training camp underway as new season approaches

Thunderbirds training camp underway as new season approaches
Updated: Oct. 6, 2022 at 6:00 PM EDT
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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - The Springfield Thunderbirds are back for training camp and with opening night only nine days away, the team is preparing for the new season.

“Picking up our half season worth of tickets for what we hope is an exciting new year,” said Dan Moriarty of Westfield.

Moriarty is one of 1,300 season ticket holders, who are eager to watch the Thunderbirds hit the ice this season.

“It’s that time of year where people who are hockey fans are cranked,” Moriarty added.

The AHL Eastern Conference champions are coming off their best season in franchise history, but head coach Drew Bannister told Western Mass News that his full focus is on this year and the pressure that may come with it.

“There’s going to be somewhat of a target on our back, I would imagine, from other teams that didn’t go as far as us or who we beat out in the playoffs. Night-to-night, I think it’s going to be a lot more difficult,” Bannister explained.

The team returns a large number of coaches and players who competed in the 2022 Calder Cup Finals, including Nathan Todd.

“I mean the mindset’s, for sure, to win. We were right there last time. We were so close, so I think a lot of guys there have some unfinished business. We’re all excited to get it going here and have another great run,” Todd said.

They’ll also have some fresh faces in the mix, such as Dylan McLaughlin, Vadim Zherenko, and general manager Kevin Maxwell. Bannister said the current roster may look a lot different than the one they’ll trot out for opening night, but he’s still utilizing invaluable time during training camp to prepare the Thunderbirds for takeoff.

“Making sure that we’re coming out executing, playing with pace and being competitive in practice, so it starts rolling into games,” Bannister noted.

“The boys are excited to see you, we’re happy for the season to start and hopefully, we can have a great run…The Thunderdome should be rocking,” Todd added.

The Thunderbirds open up preseason play on Friday at 7:05 p.m. against the Providence Bruins. Opening night is scheduled for Saturday, October 15.