Locals to lead Travellers

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While two exhibition victories aren’t going to cause locals to plan a championship parade, they have sparked some excitement around the Delhi Travellers.

The Provincial Junior (C) Hockey League club has earned just one victory apiece in the last two seasons but has equalled that output in the early going of 2019-20 by downing Port Stanley 6-5 on Aug. 26 and Lambeth 5-3 Aug. 31.
The Travellers are getting it done with local boys too. Against Lambeth, Waterford forward Matt Laning scored three times and added an assist, Blair Couwenberg of Norwich registered a goal and a helper and Courtland’s Mattson Demarest also found the back of the net.

“I think it’s went fairly well so far,” Travellers GM Chris Longthorne said of the team’s camp. “A lot of local faces and like I’ve said all along, that’s the way we need it to go. It’s maybe not going to be the most dominant force but that’s what you’re in it for, to support your locals so they have somewhere to play.”
Other Norfolk and area players taking part in the preseason victories include Mitchell Rainey, Garrett Magalas, Isaac Borges, and Tyler Whitfield.

Longthorne admits the Travellers can’t sign every local minor hockey graduate but wants to give those capable of playing junior hockey an opportunity to do so.

“If your players come from Delhi, I think that means something because you see the people in town come to the games and they ask you what’s going on type deal and that means a lot more than the kid that drives an hour to town,” he added.

Certainly, there are fans of the club already thinking ahead to what a 2-0 mark in the preseason could mean for the team’s prospects going forward, but Longthorne isn’t taking anything for granted this early in the campaign.

“There’s a lot of people jumping pretty high right now,” he said. “Myself, I’m just kind of sitting back. I’ve learned in my last few years here you don’t get too excited until we’re 40 games in and see where things are at. It’s definitely a positive note, but I’ve seen things go the other way quite quickly so I don’t want to say anything I’m going to regret down the road.”

The key to making a move towards the top of the standings, said Longthorne, will be the team’s ability to play for all 60 minutes. Too often during their recent struggles has a mid-game lapse cost the team two points.

“That’s sometimes that’s leaving us on the losing end of things,” said Longthorne. “So we need to concentrate on playing 60 minutes of hockey and make sure when we do walk in that door every night that we’re ready to give 100 percent commitment to the team.”

The Travellers will head east on Tuesday to meet Hagersville at 8:30 p.m. in their final exhibition contest. They’ll open play within the Doherty Division Sept. 14 on the road vs. New Hamburg. The next night, Delhi welcomes Wellesley for the home opener beginning at 8 p.m.

jrobinson@postmedia.com

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