WORCESTER- The Worcester Railers hosted an event for Railers Hockey Club Members and guests Friday evening. The Railers HC website stated that it would feature a State of the Union address featuring Coach and GM Jamie Russell and Railers front office staff with an open skate on the DCU Center ice to follow.
Members who attended the event received a commemorative Railers HC hockey puck.
During the event several Railers Office staff spoke about what’s been going on with the hockey club:
It was announced by Eric Lindquist that information on seat selection process for the season ticket holders will be available at the holiday event in December.
Worcester Railers Owner Cliff Rucker thanked everyone who has signed up for tickets, supporting the team, and encouraged all members “to be good will ambassadors for the team, by talking to family, friends, and co-workers about the ECHL, about the Railers, and about hockey in Worcester and with that, we should have no problem having 12,000 people in the building on opening night.”
Rucker assured the crowd saying that the Railers will be here “for a very long time.”
Mike Myers, President of the Worcester Railers spoke about his role in the Worcester Sharks and his transition to being involved in Worcester’s newest hockey team.
Myers said “We are not a retread of what was here before. Whether it is the IceCats or the Sharks. We definitely want to bring all the good that those organizations brought and we do not want to deny our history. I believe deeply in our hockey history and we want to take it to the next level. We want to embrace what was great and want to make it even better. We want Worcester to be a place you want to be. This team is about Worcester.”
As of today, the season ticket count is 780 memberships which is very well for a team that was founded 10 months ago and still has a year before the puck drops. The team has $900,000 in corporate commitments, which is above more than half of every other ECHL team. The team has set a goal to be in the top 5% of teams in season ticket holders and in corporate commitments. The team wants anyone and everyone to be involved and by doing so, they will meet those goals.
The Railers Tavern, located in the former BarFX building, was given the Summer-Fall timeframe for its opening. The Tavern will have merchandise and game used memorabilia from past Worcester Sports teams and local sports teams.
An update to the Worcester Sports Center was given, stating that it will feature an Italian restaurant, a café, the Railers merchandise store, a pro shop, and will offer physical therapy and physical fitness services to its patrons. It was also announced last week that Worcester Academy would be the first high-school tenant and Becker College would be the first college tenant.
Jamie Russell was introduced to the members for the first time since being named as Coach and General Manager. Russell has an extensive career in hockey, being both a player and coach. Russell has over 20 years’ experience coaching at Ferris State University, Cornell, Michigan Tech, Providence College, and more recently the Elmira Jackals of the ECHL.
Russell reflected about the previous times he has visited Worcester and the DCU Center, coaching Cornell when they played regionals in 2001 in Worcester. Russell also spoke about the revitalization and potential of Worcester and the team playing in the ECHL.
Russell stated, “When we’re able to recruit players to Worcester, that’s a huge plus. DCU Center is a great venue and a great building.”
Russell stressed the importance of location for their NHL and AHL affiliates. With recalls becoming a common occurrence, it is important for players to get to where they need to be within a few hours. Russell gave examples of organizations the team could affiliate with, which included the Boston Bruins, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, New York Islanders, and New Jersey Devils.
“In terms of ECHL coming to Worcester, it is great hockey and it’s a little bit different than the American Hockey League.”, Russell said. “The players are not making 1.5 million dollars and they are not getting rich at the ECHL level. They all have a dream of playing at the NHL level; they are dedicated to making it to the AHL and beyond.”
As of last night, there have been 600 former ECHL players who have made it to the NHL, so that shows that ECHL players are capable of making it to the NHL and being the pro hockey players that many come to know.
Russell continued about the ECHL players. On an ECHL roster there are 10 dressed forwards, 6 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders, as opposed to 12 dressed forwards for the AHL and beyond. This shows ECHL players play for longer periods of time which is something NHL teams look at as they are going to get development in a variety of situations on the ice.
Russell finished his speech stating that he wants to see the Railers everywhere. He wants to see fans wearing hoodies with the Railers logo and taking pride in the team. In a Q&A session, he stated that he wanted his players to become a part of the Worcester community and he wants the fans to know the players on a personal level.
Closing out the State of the Union address, VP of Marketing and Communications of Worcester Railers Eric Lindquist brought up the many former Worcester Sharks players in their move to become the San Jose Barracuda. “There was a lot of great opportunity for the Worcester Sharks to move to San Jose. If you asked the players what they missed most about Worcester was the Worcester Hockey family.” Lindquist reflected by saying that it was a huge reason why he came back to Worcester and joined the Railers.
The event also marked one year until the first puck drop for the Railers in 2017. A holiday event will be held in December, an exact date has yet to be announced.