uac101514001.gif As the temperatures drop, things are heating up at the Crown Coliseum as Fayetteville FireAntz fans get ready for the opening puck of hockey season.

With seven strong returning players and what Director of Media-Communications Jason Fleming calls, “some very exciting new blood,” the team is poised to strike. The first home game of the season is set for Oct. 24 with a quick turn around and another game on Oct. 25.

Head Coach Emery Plauson is returning for a second year. A native of Canmore, Alberta, he joined the team midway through the 2013-2014 season. No stranger to the game, Plauson played nine professional hockey seasons. He played on the Fayetteville FireAntz team from 2008-10. According to his bio, in 508 professional games played, he tallied 199 goals, 242 assists and 441 points. He is a graduate of St. Thomas University.

Plauson is hard at work building a team that he hopes will bring home a trophy from the Southern Professional Hockey League championships later in the season.

Fleming is excited about the new lineup. Austin Daae comes to the team from the Saskatchewan Hockey League in Canada, where he was the leading scorer and MVP last year.

“Emery, our head coach, is familiar with that league and has seen Austin play. He is going to score a ton of points,” said Fleming.

It’s looking good for the team’s goalies, as well. At the time of this writing, the team faces a tough decision in choosing two out of three goal tenders interested in signing with the team.

“We have three really outstanding goal tenders coming into to camp,” said Fleming. “Sam Marotta — he is a rookie — who attended Mary Mac College and the Vancouver Cannucks camp when he was a junior in college. Kevin Murdock played with Lake Superior State, which is also a Division One school, for all four years of his college career. It is great to get Division One guys here. This is going to be spectacular. He put up tremendous numbers in college. Scott Lewan is another rookie. He’s from Wisconsin River Falls. These three outstanding goal tenders will compete for two spots on the team.”

The roster of returning players is looking good, too, and Fleming expects to see great things from the FireAntz team in the 2014-2015 season. “Forward John Clewlow was our leading scorer last year. He’s back and we are looking forward to having him back on the team,” said Fleming. “We have re-signed Ryan Hand, a forward defenseman who who put up a fight in every game. Overall, our top two lines are going to be exciting to watch and will put up a lot of points. Our third line is really tough and will be hard to play against. Our defensive unit, led by returner Cory Toy and Zach Carriveau, is set to be the best defensive unit in the entire league.” 

Playing a good game is important to the FireAntz but the team is also committed to its fans and to the community. Look for a variety of theme nights and fun events throughout the community this season. Opening weekend is Oct. 24-25 and is sponsored by Black’s Tire. The FireAntz will have a presence at all of the Black’s Tire locations in the community. Stop by and meet the team and get into the spirit of the game. The 82nd Airborne Chorus is set to sing at opening night. The chorus is a favorite in the community and adds a sense of patriotism to any event.

The FireAntz team has always been a strong supporter of the military. This season is no different. Saturday, Nov. 1 is Military Appreciation Night. This is always a fun time. Several of the FireAntz corporate sponsors have purchased blocks of tickets to give away.

“Something fun we are doing for this particular Military Appreciation Night is that the team is wearing military-themed jerseys that represent all of the different branches of the military,” said 10-15-14-fireantz-john-clewlow.gifFleming. The jerseys will be auctioned off to the fans after the game.

The team is eager to start the season and Fleming expects it to be one that the fans will enjoy.

“Our Head Coach does a heck of a job recruiting,” said Fleming. “I am more excited about this season than I was our championship year in 2006-2007.”

Find out more about the FireAntz at http://antzhockey.pointstreaksites.com/view/fireantz/home-page-861.

Photo: John Clewlow, last season’s leading scorer is back this year, bringing excitement and goals to the Crown.

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