By the time this weekend’s games are over, the Erie Otters will officially be done with a quarter of their season. Where in the world did the time go?
Welcome back to our Inside the Locker Room feature. I figured we’d try this a little differently. We’re going to make two changes moving forward.
First, on weeks we publish in this space, it will now drop on Wednesday mornings. Second, our coach speak will be in audio form. You can hear head coach Chris Hartsburg below discuss the London win, injury updates and a first look at the Ottawa 67’s among other things.
We will also continue to do mini features from inside the locker room. On this week’s edition, Christian Kyrou is here, Aidan Campbell is not used to being pulled, Max Golod is as confident as ever and Connor Lockhart is off to the U17’s. Here is our last installment in case you missed it.
Christian Kyrou Gets the Call
Thanks to an injury to defenseman Luke Beamish, the Otters called up Christian Kyrou to play in Saturday night’s game against London. He got into the game and did play a few shifts but as the game went on, he didn’t see much ice. The Otters went on to win the game 6-5 in a shootout.
Kyrou remains with the Otters as it is unknown how long Beamish will be out. With Brendan Kischnick still at least a month away, Kyrou is the sixth defenseman. He knows what he needs to do to make the most of this opportunity.
“(I need to) just learn the systems and just play the way you play,” Kyrou said. “Be confident in who you’re playing with and just trust them.”
Kyrou played Saturday’s game with Kurtis Henry to start. Don’t be surprised if that happens again so that the team can have at least one veteran on every pair. If this happens, Jacob Golden would play with Cam Morton.
Aidan Campbell Got Pulled? What?
It’s not often a goalie with an under 2.00 GAA in a prior league gets pulled. Campbell got pulled in Guelph back on Oct 18. He got to play them again for the school day game losing in a shootout. Then he had to come in relief for Daniel Murphy Saturday against London. Campbell didn’t allow any goals in the third period, overtime or the shootout and the Otters got the win.
Campbell spoke about how unusual it was for him to get pulled from a game and then his ability to keep his head in it when the team needed him.
“Yeah it was definitely a weird situation,” Campbell said. “All goalies prepare for that. You just gotta go in there knowing that you’re there for your team and backing them up when they make mistakes. I was definitely nervous because if you make a mistake and let in a goal, you’re letting your team down. But I just managed to keep my focus and keep my head straight and managed to stay calm.”
The Otters are off to a better start this season in part because they have two goaltenders they trust. Campbell got a learning experience out of this. When asked what his biggest lesson to this point of his first OHL has been, “At any moment it could go wrong. No matter what, you have to work your hardest to be one of the best goalies here and it really does take a lot of work.”
Max Golod’s High Confidence
Max Golod is on a roll.
He enters this week’s games in the top-10 of overall scoring in the OHL with a line of 6-15-21 in just 14 games. His line with Chad Yetman and draft-eligible Hayden Fowler is quickly becoming one of the better lines in the league.
Recall last season that he couldn’t buy a goal early in the season. He was fighting the puck and couldn’t get anything going. As the season went on, he started showing signs of maturity to where now he’s a different player. What has been the key to his confidence?
“I think just getting off to a good start,” Golod said. “Getting points early on has been a reward for the trials and tribulations I’ve been through in my career here. I think consistency has been a big part of that. I’m playing the game the right way and just letting the points come where as before I was chasing out there.”
Golod has matured and we are finally seeing the kind of player many thought he would be. Many thought a team would take a chance on him in the draft. If he continues on his current pace, someone will bring him on board. His best is yet to come.
Connor Lockhart Off to U17’s
Connor Lockhart has left the Otters to join Team Canada at the U17’s which start on Nov 2. Before he left, Lockhart shared his thoughts on being able to represent his country.
“It’s an awesome feeling being named to that team,” Lockhart said. “Tons of guys from around the league are going to get their first opportunity of the 2003 borns to represent Canada for the first of hopefully many times. For me, it’s the first step in the process in representing Canada and becoming more experienced and become a better overall player.”
The team has been pleased with the early start of Lockhart. He isn’t getting the goals early on, but he’s playing the right way. GM Dave Brown says if he continues to play the way he has, the goals will start to come. He now gets a chance to play against his age group in a prestigious tournament.
Lockhart will be playing in the tournament both this weekend and next. Elias Cohen is expected to re-enter the lineup in Lockhart’s place. The tournament will be held from Nov 2-9 in both Medicine Hat and Swift Current.
The Road Ahead
Up next is three games in three days with the last two games at home. The Otters play in London Friday night and then host Ottawa on Saturday and Niagara Sunday afternoon. The story to watch will be if the Otters decide to make a move for a veteran defenseman. Only time will tell.
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.