The conquest of the exhibition season is complete. The time to Attack is approaching.
Having finished the pre-season with a perfect record of 7-0, the Batchewana Attack of the new Canadian International Hockey League is ready for the real thing. The eight-team CIHL — which is sanctioned by the United Hockey Union — begins its inaugural season this weekend and the Attack will play host to the Espanola Rivermen on Saturday night at 7:30 at Rankin Arena in Sault Ste. Marie.
Well-known Sault Ste. Marie area hockey figures will lead the Attack into its first-ever season led by former Soo Greyhounds player and coach and National Hockey League journeyman Denny Lambert.
The 44-year old Lambert isn’t the only member of the Batchewana staff with an Ontario Hockey League and an NHL background.
Newly-apppointed, 31-year old general manager Drew Fata played three seasons as an OHL defenceman and made it to the NHL as part of a lengthy professional career.
And Trevor Solomon, the 26-year old assistant coach of the Attack, is a former first-round OHL draft pick of the Sarnia Sting who also played for the Greyhounds when Lambert was coaching them. Solomon is a member of Garden River First Nation.
To be sure, Lambert is anxious to get the regular season started and to play out of fan-friendly Rankin Arena.
“It’s a new venture and I am proud and honoured to be a part of it,” said Lambert. “This is all about developing kids and playing at the Rankin is a win-win situation for all concerned.”
Attack president and primary owner David Maciuk has assembled a team that is made up of just over half local players.
Of the 19 players on the squad, 10 are local skaters — defencemen Cade Nolan, Jeremy Solomon, Shane Zorzit and Adam Baggs and forwards Jacob Palmerio, Jason Uhl, Jesse Delavalle, Grant Syrette and twin brothers Drake and Darian Pilon.
Palmerio and Nolan hold the distinction of being the first two players to sign with the Attack.
As for Solomon and Syrette, they were high-performance teammates with the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League the past two seasons.
“I’ll take the time to develop them and let them grow,” Lambert said of the Attack players which besides the locals, also includes talent from Italy, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
Goalie Stefan Demetz is from Italy, forward Sergei Koroshun hails from Russia and defenceman Johan Kling is a product of Sweden. American-born players on the Attack include goalie Jack Hickey, defenceman Tyler Baker and forwards Robert DeLury, Nate Harris, Chris Skinner and Brian Stack.