Inside the Locker Room: Otters Prepare For 3-in-3

In our continuing quest to enhance our Erie Otters coverage for the 2019-20 season, we are introducing a new weekly feature called “Inside the Locker Room.” Every Tuesday, we will talk with the head coach of the Otters Chris Hartsburg as well as players to give you the goings on with the team as they prepare for their next set of games.

In each edition of “Inside the Locker Room”, we will provide you with injury updates as well as news and quotes from the team. This week, new captain Jack Duff and new alternate captain Chad Yetman stopped by. Also coach Hartsburg gave some injury updates and reflected on the first two games, both wins by the Otters.

The Week That Was

The Week Ahead

  • at Windsor Thursday Sept 26 7:00 P.M.
  • at London Friday Sept 27 7:30 P.M.
  • vs. Windsor Saturday Sept 28 7:00 P.M.

Injury Updates

  • Noah Sedore: Lower-body injury. Will miss this week’s games. He is listed as day-to-day but expected back next week.
  • Matthew MacDougall: Lower-body injury. Will miss this week’s games. He is listed as day-to-day.
  • Danial Singer: Upper-body injury. Will miss this week’s games. He is listed as day-to-day.
  • Marcus Gillard: No new update. Lower-body injury. Team expects a six-month recovery time if surgery is performed.

The new addition to the injured list is Singer. He played in the first two games and didn’t seem to have any issues coming out of Saturday. Coach Hartsburg said the injury wasn’t anything major but will not play this week.

Chris Hartsburg, OHL, Erie Otters
Hartsburg said that Danial Singer will not play this weekend. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.)

Pinpointing Good Moments

Hartsburg praised the Otters for being good defensively in their opener against Sudbury and then praised them for their dominance for the first two periods Saturday in Hamilton. Even with the good moments, Hartsburg identified some areas where the team needs to improve.

“(Friday vs. Sudbury) We needed to be a little bit harder in the offensive zone and I thought in the third period we did that. (Saturday vs. Hamilton) Those are funny games where you’re not getting a lot of push back and we go into the third thinking it’s going to be the same. You’re not really ready for the push back when it comes. We battled through some things too. But with our group, our depth showed not just up front but on the back end.”

Hartsburg went on to praise his group for the way they defended the neutral zone. He said the Otters made it hard to get anything through. This allowed the defensemen to have options and eventually, it created numbers in the Otters’ favor.

Aidan’s Campbell’s First Start

Hartsburg said that evaluating Aidan Campbell’s first OHL game was tough to do given the circumstances. Campbell saw just 10 shots in the first two periods of Saturday’s game.

But Hartsburg pointed out that in situations like that, it’s “mind over anything.”

“I think he’s going to have to learn to stay engaged somehow”, Hartsburg said. “He did make a couple huge saves in the third but probably wanted a couple of those goals back, just a little sleepy on him. He’s going to be fine. It’s just adapting to the regular season pace.”

Challenges that Windsor/London Bring

Hartsburg admitted that Windsor “is a lot like us.” He cited their depth and good players that are ready to take the next step. As for London, “they’re not happy being 0-2. We have to be prepared for that push. We face a little bit of a firing squad.”

These two games on the road will provide an interesting test to the Otters as each the Spitfires and Knights can score goals when things are right. Windsor fell down 4-0 and ended the night with nine goals of their own. And although they are injured, London can score almost at will. For the Otters it will be about preparation. And as Chad Yetman told us, they will try to watch their ice time and play shorter shifts with three games in three nights.

“Shorter shifts would be ideal”, Yetman said. “The first two games we’ve been stretching our shifts out and gone a little long. If we keep our shifts short with quick spurts of hard work, it’ll be easier to maintain our energy.”

Duff agreed with Yetman’s assessment.

“We have to keep everything simple and short”, Duff told us. “Short shifts and work them in their zone and wear them out. That will be the key to our success this week.”

We’ll see if the Otters can accomplish this against two high powered offenses.

Chris Hartsburg, OHL, Erie Otters
Chris Hartsburg says preparation will be the key to success against Windsor and London. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Duff Reacts to Being Named Captain

“I was super excited and very honored”, Duff said about being named the new Otters’ captain. “In the room we have all the captains up on the wall. It’s awesome being a part of that memory.”

The announcement of the captaincy happened during a team meeting and Duff wasn’t expecting it. Nobody told him and it caught him by surprise.

But with being named the captain might come a few nerves when taking on a brand new responsibility. Duff admitted feeling those nerves early on.

“There was pressure”, Duff said. “I was a little bit nervous. But once we got into the rhythm of the game, I ended up being alright.”

Duff will generally face the opposition’s best players. He saw Quinton Byfield Friday night. He will likely face 6-foot-9 center Curtis Douglas twice this week. If the Otters are going to enjoy success, Duff’s performance could go a long way in determining that.

Erie Otters, OHL, Jack Duff
Jack Duff is the new Otters’ captain but admitted feeling the pressure early on. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Chad Yetman’s Time in Detroit

Yetman got to attend Red Wings’ camp and played on their roster in the Traverse City prospect’s tournament. We asked him what things he learned there that will help him back here with the Otters.

“That was an unbelievable experience”, Yetman told us. “I had a great time. I played with a lot of great players. I got to play against a lot of great players. I met a lot of new people including ex-NHL’ers who gave me a lot of information. I tried to soak everything in. Then after the Traverse City tournament, the NHL players came into town. It was cool learning from them, seeing the things they do on a day-to-day basis. I learned a lot of new preparation things that I started to implement in my game.”

OHL, Chad Yetman, Erie Otters
Chad Yetman really enjoyed his time with the Red Wings and came back to Erie with new habits. (Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images)

Final Thoughts

Yetman, Duff and the rest of the Otters will travel Wednesday to Windsor in advance of Thursday’s game. Then they won’t have to play another road game for 20 days after Friday’s game in London. The Otters have a five-game homestand starting with Windsor on Saturday night.

As for the lineup with Singer being out, don’t be surprised if Cameron Morton makes his OHL debut on defense. Brendan Kischnick would move up and play forward in that scenario. Hartsburg didn’t discuss his lineup but Kischnick has played forward in a pinch before. Also expect Daniel Murphy to start two of the three games this week.