As his players skated around the rink of their rental-home at the Pan Am Plaza, new Indiana Ice Head Coach Ron Gay made the expectations of his squad pretty loud and clear.
"We are Indiana, said Gay. "That's where we are. We made the playoffs the past eight years and that is what we are looking to do this year. We are looking to get into the playoffs, make some noise, and see what happens."
The Eastern Conference runner-ups (36-15-9 record) kick off their season this Friday night when the Ice travel to Chicago, and then have their home-opener the following night against Omaha. The Ice will play a string of games at the Pan Am Plaza until Saturday, November 9th, and will then switch over to Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
No matter the venue though, the Ice seem to be pretty excited about the upcoming season with good reason. Eight starters from last year's squad return to the ice, while ten of the players already have Division-One scholarships at universities spanning across the country.
"Everybody is skilled," said forward Woody Hudson.
"We are a pretty deep team. Anybody can score, and I'm pretty excited about our performance at the Fall Classic (2-1-0 last weekend). We had some quick striking, were really fast, the lines were physical, and that is going to hurt other teams."
With the new season, new venue, and high expectations, the Ice are hoping to also have the opportunity broaden their fan base with the downtown location. The pitch they have for those spending their time downtown seems pretty convincing.
"The whole thing is that it is the best hockey with no NHL this year," said Gay.
"It is tier-one and the best junior hockey in America right now going. All of these kids are either going to college or getting drafted. Last year we had 30 kids drafted out of this league and into the NHL. Pretty much 90% of the kids are going to a Division One college. We have the elite of the elite playing in this league, and we have some of them playing right here in Indianapolis."Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun