Fimis excited to get started
Under normal circumstances, Pano Fimis would be well into his rookie season with the Niagara IceDogs after being selected with the second overall pick in the 2020 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
But instead of acclimatizing himself to the OHL, Fimis has been relegated to the sidelines with the start of the season on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic
“It has been frustrating at some points, but at the end of the day, everyone’s in the same boat and there’s not much we can do,” the 16-year-old Richmond Hill native said. “I know the government is working with the OHL to get things going which is really good news because it gives the players hope. At least we have organized dates and hope of us starting.”
The OHL recently pushed back its tentative start date from Dec. 1, 2020 to Feb. 4, 2021. Training camps are now slated to begin Jan. 23 with a pair of exhibition games between Jan. 29-31. Canadian players are slated to report to their teams Jan. 22. Non-Canadian players will report Jan. 8 for a two-week quarantine.
Fimis, the highest pick in franchise history, has been doing his best to keep busy.
“I’ve been doing as much as I can to be over-prepared for when the season starts,” he said. “It’s obviously not a regular year; Things are out of whack so you just have to do as much as you can. That’s what I’ve been doing, nothing too crazy, but just working out, staying active, trying some new things to keep me going.”
Fimis misses the game but has begrudgingly come to accept the situation — for now.
“A couple of months ago, I was talking to my dad and I told him I can’t really imagine life right now without COVID,” he said. “It’s so weird and it’s hard to say, but it’s almost (like) this is our new normal. It’s hard to picture things like they were.
“Humans are made to adapt to certain situations and that’s what a lot of us have done.”
The IceDogs were unable to host any of their draft picks on draft day as is the custom, but Fimis and his family were able to make the trip to Niagara later to meet some of the staff and tour the Meridian Centre.
“It’s looks unreal,” he said. “I didn’t get a chance to tour many rinks before the draft but saw London and Oshawa which are great facilities but Niagara was definitely up there and I was definitely impressed with what I saw.”
Fimis, who collected 14 goals and 42 points to go along with a 65.24 per cent face-off percentage in 32 games with the Toronto Junior Canadians last season, has been in contact with IceDogs coach Billy Burke and general manager Joey Burke throughout the layoff.
“They’ve been great resources for me just to reach out if I ever need anything,” Fimis said. “They are very open and easy to reach which is really good and comforting. The main thing has been to remain positive. Joey has been very hopeful of the season starting and so has Billy. So now with distinct dates it gives us more hope. We’ve come this far so why stop? We have to keep pushing through and get there.”
Fimis has been skating with IceDogs forward Jake Uberti and 2020 draft picks Alec Leonard and Brice Cook and feels he will appreciate his first OHL camp even more when it finally does occur.
“Come January I can’t wait to meet all of them and get going,” he said.
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