By Kimberly de Jong, Brant Beacon
The Paris Titans officially finished up their summer prospect camp and are gearing up for the opening night game on Saturday, September 16, 2023.
The Paris Mounties officially became the Paris Titans after the Titan Capital Group took over the Paris Mounties PJHL franchise when the sale was finalized earlier this year.
Michael Christian, co-owner and head coach of the local team, said that Titans management has already made commitments to a variety of players and are looking forward to their first official player practice on Tuesday, August 8, 2023.
Christian said that while they promoted their prospect camp later than usual due to the timing of taking over, the camp garnered great interest with just over 70 players participating.
“We had three sessions strictly for goalies, we had some shooters coming out that were returning players and some prospective players come out to shoot as well. That was all run by our goalie coach John Jeffries of JJ Goaltending and he did an excellent job putting the goalies through some of their paces and showing us their skill sets,” he said. “From there we moved on to three scrimmages and went into a couple practice like situations just to see what we had as we filtered down through the players. We really wanted to see the skill set, hockey IQ and do some evaluating there so over the course of two to three weeks, we had a good look at what we had coming out and what that looked like.”
He said that making a decision can be difficult without seeing the players in an exhibition setting.
“Really, we tried to evaluate the best we could without the competition and exhibition games so it’s a little bit difficult to see what they have,” said Christian. “Practices are definitely a lot different than games, and we’re looking forward to the opportunity we need to get into the exhibition season here and start pushing some guys to the limits to see how that goes.”
Overall, the prospective players and their attitudes are looking positive.
“The energy from the players and the excitement generated around being around the players on the ice and listening to them talk has been excellent,” said the co-owner.
While a handful of player commitments have been made, Christian said that there is still a process in solidifying their 2023/2024 roster through the OHA and Hockey Canada.
“Time will tell, there’s a lot of work that goes into that process with training and things of that nature, but we’ve got them doing dry land, doing regular practices here and when we get back to it in August we will really try to start building towards where we want to be,” said Christian. “Along with this process is being a little patient as the junior A and junior B teams start to solidify their rosters and players become available that way. At our level, we have to just be patient to see what comes out and filters out of those groups as well, so there’s also a little bit of a “wait and see” kind of thing going on as well to make sure that we’re putting the most competitive product we can on the ice.”
With a coaching staff made up Christian, Mike Hines, Nathan Harrington, Todd Boomer, Scott Gerow and John Jeffries, the six are hoping to use their hockey experience to help build the new team.
“We’ve got a lot of really talented hockey minds that are very committed to what we’re trying to do here in the program and we’re also eager to learn how they fit into that role as well,” said Christian. “It’s a very strong group of leaders and coaches that we have here so it’s very exciting.”
Come September, the County of Brant Mayor, David Bailey will be present to drop the puck for the Titans opening night game.
“We are really looking forward to the puck drop. Jon Clark and I met with Mayor Bailey last week, and that went very well,” he said. “We were very excited to take on the opportunity to meet the Mayor and highlight some of the things that we want to do in the community and listen to some of the projects that are going on in the community to see where we can get involved. We’re really going to be working together to make this a viable product for people to take pride in and rally around. We want to make sure that these players are out in the community so people can get to know who the players are and kind of build a relationship to build off of as we go.”
Christian said that encouraging the players to have a connection with the County and the people around it is a fundamental part in being on their team.
“We want guys that want to be involved in the community and not just here for the benefit of playing hockey,” he said. “The benefit of playing hockey is also a reward that we want to share with the community and make sure that we’re out there doing the right things. So, we are definitely looking for the character in the player as well, and we want to make sure that everybody understands what their role is with this organization. It’s not just being a player, but also being a person in the community and understanding that there is value in that. We want to not only build a winning reputation as a hockey team, but also in building people as well as leaders.”