Get excited, Adrenaline fans, because hockey season starts this week.
To add to the boil of excitement the Adrenaline are coming into this season fully loaded.
For the first time in many years, the Hards Transport Adelaide Adrenaline will have a full roster of imports.
If you're a little behind on all our signings or a new fan that's not a problem because we are here to catch you up. In the AIHL you are allowed to sign six imports but only four can dress in a given game. For the last few seasons the Adrenaline have had anywhere from two to four imports.
Adrenaline head coach Sami Mantere says having five imports come over is a huge luxury in this league. The Adrenaline will have two forwards, two defenseman and a goalie who have all played at a significant level of hockey in their home country.
Plus, the Adrenaline already have the services of ex-pat Jamie Holland who now lives in Adelaide.
"It gives us a lot of flexibility with who we play," says Mantere. "We can play with the right combinations to see what works best."
Having these calibre of imports certainly will help raise the level of play and expectation for Adrenaline players and fans alike.
So just who are they? Here's a rundown:
Forward - Cole MacMillan
Adrenaline fans came to know and love Cole in 2016. He loved his time in Adelaide so much that he never left! Thank goodness for that because he is back for another season.
Cole is a gritty two-way forward from Prince Edward Island (PEI) in Canada. He powers his way by defenders and spreads the puck around. Last year he scored a couple signature coast-to-coast goals.
He played three years of junior hockey in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) before playing four years of University hockey in Canada with University of Prince Edward Island. The QMJHL is a top league that breeds NHL-players so his background is sound. He even played in a Memorial Cup which is the Canadian Junior National Championships.
Cole says he expects a lot more of himself this season. Last season a string of injuries and suspensions had him play half the year on defense which is not his natural position. He still tallied 25 points in 27 games.
Cam grew up playing with and against Cole in their home province of PEI so the connection runs deep. PEI has a population of 142,000 people and the Adrenaline are loading up on 'Island' talent.
Critchlow has been described by every former teammate, player, coach and scout as an ultimate leader. In junior hockey he captained a Halifax Moosheads team that had future NHL-first overall pick Nathan Mackinnon and NHL-star Jonathan Drouin.
His experience does not end there. He later went on to captain the University of New Brunswick (UNB) Varsity Reds to three national titles in four years in the CIS. He won his most recent this past march.
Cam says he is willing to play anywhere and everywhere necessary.
"I have a high energy style of play," says Critchlow. "I rely on my speed to create a lot of offensive chances. I am reliable defensively and can play both power play and penalty kill. I am a fast-first type player and like to find guys in tight for scoring opportunities."
Cam is a winner who will command the best out of himself and his teammates.
Defense - Casey Babineau
Casey grew up playing major junior hockey against both Cam and Cole. Then he played four years of Canadian University puck where he played along side MacMillan at UPEI and against Cam at UNB. Yup - another islander!
Babineau's style of play is highly praised by UPEI coach Forbes MacPherson.
"He’s a very intelligent defenceman, who competes hard, and has a very high pain threshold. He’s just one of those guys who, knock on wood, you can count on every single night, every single week," he says.
He will likely get the bulk of defensive minutes both on the power play and penalty kill. Here is how Babineau describes his game:
“I am known to be more of a defence-first player, but at the same time with my skating ability, I can jump into the play and contribute offensively as well. I also consider myself as a detail oriented player that is very coachable and adaptable to a variety of on-ice playing styles, which has always related into a smooth transition across multiple leagues throughout my playing career.”
Babineau is also a natural leader. He wore the 'C' at UPEI, succeeding our very own Cole MacMillan!
Defense - Morgan McNeill
Morgan joins the Adrenaline from - you guessed it - Prince Edward Island. He first heard about the Australian league from a few players he played with in the New Brunswick Senior League.
He has played junior hockey, in the CIS and in a variety of senior leagues. McNeill describes himself as a hard-working player. He hopes his attitude is contagious around the team.
“I pride myself on my leadership skills and my work ethic both on and off the ice. I lead a dedicated lifestyle both on and off the ice and I hope the guys will like that about me and want to follow my work ethic," says McNeill.
He seems to have the ultimate team attitude and is willing to push his teammates and work hard for his minutes. The Adrenaline all of a sudden appear to be quite strong in front of their net!
He lands on Friday and will suit up Saturday against Newcastle.
Goalie - Tyler Steel
After a four-year career as the goalie for Brown University in NCAA Div 1, Steel joined the Huntsville Havoc in the USA's Southern Professional Hockey League (SPHL).
He has been 'Steel-ing' games in that competition. He has a stellar 2.76 goals against average in the competition and in December was named the SPHL Player of the Month.
Just this past weekend Steel outdueled Perth Thunder import goalie Peter Di Salvo in an elimination final in the SPHL. Steel made 32 saves - including 14 in the third period - to help power his team to victory.
His former coach at Brown University calls him a "switched-on player who has the ability to take-over a game."
Steel says he is excited to come to Adelaide but expects to win.
"I'll bring stability, consistency, and hopefully help Adelaide win a Championship. I’m a driven guy, and comfortable with leading by example, on and off the ice. I love to win," he says.
He will join the team after the Havoc are finished their season with his wife.
Forward - Jamie Holland
We can't go through this article without mentioning ultimate utility forward Jamie Holland.
Born in the UK but now residing in Adelaide, Jamie rarely misses a practice and is a fantastic teammate to the guys. A lot of hard work earned a spot as the 'fifth' import last season and he played the bulk of the games in the last half of the season.
Jamie will be working hard and ready to step in if injuries or suspensions happen.