Welcome back Inside the Erie Otters’ Locker Room. The Otters are coming off a much-needed 4-0 win Sunday against the Niagara IceDogs in a game where Los Angeles Kings’ prospect Akil Thomas played defense. Turned out both teams played the game shorthanded. The Otters lost Chad Yetman to a nasty cut on his leg.
Coach Chris Hartsburg stopped by to discuss this past weekend, injury updates and a look ahead to Barrie & Owen Sound. You’ll also hear if he thinks Jamie Drysdale is a little frustrated.
News & Notes
- With Connor Lockhart at the U17’s and Matthew MacDougall out, the Otters might be forced to play just 11 forwards Saturday night in Barrie. This depends on the status of Yetman. As of this writing, he is not cleared to skate. That doesn’t bode well for him, but there are a few days to see if he can play.
- Cam Morton and Christian Kyrou will each play this weekend with both Brendan Kischnick and Jacob Golden nursing injuries. Each player is week-to-week but Hartsburg did confirm Kischnick did not have a setback and is progressing ahead of schedule.
- You see the standings? The Otters are just two points off the points lead in the West but are eighth in points percentage thanks to playing more games than their competition. I asked Hartsburg if he was concerned about this. He admitted not looking at the standings as much as looking at how his team is playing. He’s concerned about injuries, but says he likes the direction the team is going. Now with the Otters going on the road, can they find a way to overcome injuries and play well in two tough buildings?
Drew Hunter’s Arrival in Erie
New Otters’ defenseman Drew Hunter had a day on Friday. He was on the ice for the morning skate in St. Catharines as a member of the Niagara Icedogs. Then next thing he knows, he finds out he’s been traded to Erie.
Hunter agrees to the terms and wanted to get to London to play that night. How did he do that? He took an Uber. All told, after a 2 1/2 hour ride, Hunter made it to London in time to suit up that night for the Otters.
In fact Hunter played in all three games last weekend including Sunday against his former team. We caught up with Hunter to get his thoughts on the trade and what he thinks he can bring to the Otters. Did he think it was weird playing right away against his former mates?
“It was a little bit weird,” Hunter said. “But also at the same time I know that’s how this league works. Honestly I just looked at it (where) I practiced against those guys for at least this season. We got a lot of new guys over there for this year. It was just like that, you play hard against them. It was a little weird where it messed with my eyes a little bit but I got used to it. I’m an Otter now so I’m ready for it.”
So what did you do in the last hour before reading this? Now consider what Hunter did in an hour Friday. He was skating as though he would play against Ottawa for Niagara. He then gets a text from his agent saying a trade was agreed upon. He approves the trade, finds out there’s a game in London that night and then hops an Uber to go two hours west to be there for his new team. I don’t know about you, but what an exhausting day and weekend that had to have been.
In fact, Tuesday was really the first day Hunter was in Erie for an extended period. He had to go back to Niagara to get all his stuff. He’s starting to get settled in to his new surroundings. But that’s life for a traded player in the OHL.
What does Hunter bring to the Otters? Let him tell you.
“I like to push the pace offensively,” Hunter said. “As I learn the systems I’m a pretty stable defenseman who doesn’t make too many mistakes out there. I’m a two-way guy.”
Hunter will fill in nicely for Luke Beamish as Beamish liked to push the pace and could skate. He’ll also bring in another level of leadership and experience to an Otters’ team that has youth up and down its lineup. Expect Hunter to play some big minutes for this team this rest of this season even when everyone is healthy.
One last note before we go. There will be no Inside the Locker Room next week. Instead, we will have a surprise for you next Saturday. Stay tuned for that. That’s all we’ll say for now. But trust me, you’ll be McLovin it.
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.