Welcome back Inside the Erie Otters Locker Room. The Otters come off a weekend where they played three overtime games and got four out of a possible six points. By points, they ended the weekend in first place in the Midwest Division. Guelph has since overtaken first place thanks to a win against Kitchener.
Normally, this would be the time we have our weekly chat with head coach Chris Hartsburg. However he was not available on Tuesday. But we were able to track down assistant coach Wes Wolfe for this week’s coach speak.
Wolfe discusses the overtime weekend that was and if they are happy with the points or more upset at the missed opportunities. We then discuss injuries, Jamie Drysdale’s load management, Hayden Fowler’s penalty spree and a first look at the Oshawa Generals.
Managing Jamie Drysdale’s Workload
If you’ve watched the Otters of late, you’ll see that Jamie Drysdale has been on the ice a lot. That’s no surprise. But he’s played a bunch of hockey of late. Coach Wolfe addressed how they’re managing his workload. In my mind, how they manage it is of utmost importance.
It is not out of the question Drysdale gets an invite to world junior’s camp. If you saw the Canada/Russia series, who played the point on power-play one? It was Drysdale. Canada was definitely taking the time to evaluate him to see if they want to extend the invite.
Think of how much hockey that will be if he does happen to make it. Normally the two-week break in December is welcome for rest purposes. But in his draft season, Drysdale will cherish the opportunity if given the chance.
As for the Otters the rest of the season, their success hinges greatly on Drysdale. They must manage him in the grind of the season so he’s ready to shine if they make the postseason.
Whether it’s more practice days off or limiting his ice time in some games, rest and recovery is everything. His performance of late has slipped a little due to being tired. He’s admitted how tired he’s been. A fresh Drysdale gives the Otters the best chance to win. We’ll monitor how they manage him.
Brendan Sellan Chipping in Offense
You don’t expect consistent goal production from the bottom-six. But Brendan Sellan scored a pair of goals last week and has been much more noticeable. I see a confident player getting used to the league and the bigger minutes. What’s working for him?
“I think just sticking with the process,” Sellan said. “My first 10-15 games, the goals weren’t coming. But I was getting chances working with my linemates. I kept going and now the results are coming and I’m happy with it.”
What is his main job in the bottom-six?
“Creating energy. Creating momentum for the guys, maybe not contributing a whole lot offensively in terms of points, but doing the little things right. The top-six builds off that for sure.”
Especially in this recent stretch with injuries, Sellan and the other bottom-six forwards know they have a huge job and opportunity in front of them. As of late, they have delivered and helped the Otters to points in 10 out of their last 11 games. And at this pace, he might continue scoring timely goals when the opportunity presents itself.
Mark’s Quick Takes
- I noticed Aidan Campbell is now a C prospect. He’s going to be really good but he does need to work on the shootout and stopping shooters. He’s still adjusting to the skill of this league. But that’s one of the clear weaknesses he’s shown this season.
- Austen Swankler is showing the potential he has. He has more to give. Once he realizes how good he is, he’ll reach new levels. But he needs to show consistency.
- Connor Lockhart is much more confident. His numbers will start to catch up in the second half of the season.
- You know who’s consistently working out there but doesn’t always get the appreciation? Daniel D’Amato. Others need to look at his example.
- The Otters have a player in Brett Bressette. He’s getting valuable experience now and will have an impact next season in a larger role.
Until next time, hockey fans.
I am a fully credentialed writer who covers the Columbus Blue Jackets, Cleveland Monsters and Erie Otters as well as the Ontario Hockey League and NHL Draft. The 2021-22 season will mark eight seasons with the Hockey Writers. I am also the site’s Credentials Manager.