Regals back for another season
The Buffalo Regals are back for another season in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League with hopes they can approach respectability.
The Regals limped to an 8-38-1-1 record last season which placed them last overall in the entire GOJHL with a winning percentage of just .188.
“There’s no doubt about it. If we could get anywhere near .500, that would be a huge step,” Regals general manager Peter Preteroti said. “Whether that could happen or not, who knows?
“Hopefully, we’ll be looking better than last year.”
The Regals begin training camp Aug. 14 before playing Welland in an exhibition game Aug. 17 in Port Colborne and then participating in the Pelham Showcase Aug. 23-25.
“We’re still signing players, of course, so it’s an on-going thing,” Preteroti said.
Preteroti said the Regals are facing an uphill battle off the ice to attract junior-calibre players.
“It’s getting players to understand what the level of play is. One of the big problems we run into is everybody in the States call themselves junior A. It’s a farce.
“With the GOJHL referring to themselves as junior B, the mindset is that it’s a lesser level. This is coming from people who have absolutely no clue about the quality or have actually seen a game.”
Preteroti said educating players and parents about what the GOJHL has to offer is paramount.
“I think overcoming that is the biggest challenge,” he said. “It has been from Day 1.
“That becomes a problem because you have all the jealous people out there who try to put it down. Unless they view the game, they don’t understand what it is.”
Preteroti said the Regals generally try and rely on local players, which doesn’t always afford themselves the best chance to ice the most competitive team.
“We’ve made this program for local kids,” he said. “I think we have to have a solid effort of getting players from outside the area but we don’t really have billets to do things like that, so I guess it’s changing the mindset of the local kids to understand the quality of the league.”
The Regals played out of nearby Lockport last season, but are moving back to the Holiday Twin Rinks in Buffalo this season.
“The plan in Lockport was we thought we could market to a fan base with it being a small community,” Preteroti said. “We weren’t able to capture that fan base. We were never able to generate interest in those fans so moving back to Holiday make the most sense.”
Preteroti hopes the junior B team can tap into the minor Regals organization.
“The Regals organization has 750 players and it makes sense to go back to your home base and hopefully all the local youth players supporting the club,” he said. “That could generate additional interest and marketing to youth hockey teams and getting them out to watch our games and see what the level of play is.
“We really have to change the culture in Buffalo so they understand what junior hockey is.”
The Regals have begun weekly skates for 13-and-14-year-olds hoping to generate interest.
“These are the kids who are the future. The players three and four years down the road are going to be potential players,” Preteroti said. “We’ve already identified players who will be legitimate prospects in a couple of years.
“With the Regals having such a large youth presence and with their top team playing in the SCTA (South Central AAA), it’s a natural progression.”
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