DRYDEN – The winds were starting to blow in our direction, the dressing room was firing on all cylinders and then the pandemic pulled the rug out from under us. A sense of momentum still smolders in the hearts of #OURpack and some familiar Dogs are on their way back to the pound for the team’s twentieth campaign. Etobicoke’s Dylan DiTomaso, St. Albert’s Xavier Halterman and Osgoode’s Nolan Marshall are back home for the summer, staying sharp with that killer instinct close at hand. Social media lead Mike Nerino caught up with them this week.
“For starters, the way the season ending was absolutely awful and the worst timing for us as a team and obviously the world. We as a team were rolling and growing and finding each other’s individual role and I know I was a part of our success near the end,” Halterman reflected. With the sports world focusing on how to move forward after the pandemic, Xavier continued, “I know this year I will have that same role for the team and also being a leader in the room.”
Halterman’s 12 goals, 37 assists totalling 49 points on the season was good enough for top scorer honours at the Awards Banquet. He also took home the Jim Wright Memorial Fan Favourite Award at the event. When examining his positional play, Halterman was quick to look inward for development. “As good as my offensive game is, the more important part of my game is the defensive side, offence starts in the d-zone. On a personal level, my role grew a lot through the year and I was very excited to continue to grow and be one of the best in the league and play the best every night. I hope to grow my game even further and excel to be one of if not the best forward in the SIJHL.”
Also returning to the blue line this year is Dylan DiTomaso. After sharing defenseman of the year accolades with Amraj Gill this season, DiTomaso is prepping to get back to the Dog Pound. Coaching staff spoke of the excitement for a return to the ice, and a particular anticipation for returning skaters like Dylan.
Nolan Marshall’s assessment of the team in March rang similar. “Our team was really coming together before the playoffs last year and we were primed to win a championship. The fact that last season got canceled and we weren’t able to see what kind of damage we could’ve done in the playoffs gives me and the other guys coming back extra hunger and motivation for the upcoming season.”
Tapped with most improved player honours at the team’s virtual award ceremony, Nolan was very introspective of his play and had this to say of the future and his own evolution. ”I started to get more confidence with the puck at the end of last season and I hope to continue that next season and contribute more offensively than I did last year. All in all I’m really excited about our team next year and I can’t wait to get back to D-town and get it going!”