A lockout may be postponing the start of the NHL season this year, but that could help open the door for more minor league teams. In Watertown, a new team is getting that chance. The 1000 Islands Privateers have moved to the city from up north in Alexandria Bay and opens their season Friday. As our Brian Dwyer tells us, the team's arrival is good news for hockey fans and also other teams and sports that use Watertown's arena.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- Less than 24 hours away. Friday night dawns a new era of sports in Watertown: Professional hockey. The 1000 Islands Privateers moving from its original home in Alexandria Bay.
"From the time we knew Watertown was going to be a viable option, we hit the ground running. We've had a full marketing campaign, building corporate partnerships and selling tickets. It's been a busy time, but it's so exciting to see training camp here finally. We're so excited for Friday and Saturday nights," said 1000 Islands Privateers owner Nicole Kirnan.
And for the city, hosting the team it says was almost a no brainer. A new option for people and all it really took was about $50,000 in renovations to the arena already there: A new locker room shower, micro fiber netting around the rink and a second concession stand.
"In Watertown, there's many more people, it's close to Fort Drum. It offers people the opportunity to come out and have something fun to do with the family," said Erin Gardner, Parks and Recreation Superintendent.
As for the guys out on the ice, they're hopeful those people turn out.
"Hopefully with us being closer to Watertown, people who might not have made the drive to the Bonnie Castle to see us play will get a chance to see us. Hopefully the fans who supported us last year are willing to come watch us play," Privateers goalie Matt Anthony said.
Privateers Head Coach Paul Kelly said, "We want to be part of the town. We don't want to just come here for a few months and say 'See ya later.' We want this town to accept us and we want to be a part of the town."
As for the hockey itself, the team says it'll be fast-paced and exciting.
"So far in camp, we've noticed a couple of guys who are really fast, shifty and can shoot the puck. So once we get going, it'll be good to see guys in games," Privateers forward Adam McAllister said.
Up first, the Cape Cod Bluefins. The puck drops Friday at 7:30 p.m.
The city says the changes to the arena can also be very helpful for other youth teams or clubs that use the ice, especially that safety netting that goes around it.