MIDDLETOWN – During the New Jersey Titans pre-NAHL Draft camp, we sat down with the organization’s Head Coach and General Manager Craig Doremus to discuss the talent on hand at the May 30-June 2 event, and reflected on a 2018-19 campaign in which the Middletown club made a deep run in the Robertson Cup Playoffs.
1. With the pre-draft camp taking place only a few days before the draft, what were you looking for out of these players?
CD: “I think for us, the hope is to find the “diamond in the rough,” maybe see someone who fell under the radar throughout the year, through all the different nets of our scouting staff.
And then from an on-ice stand point, we want to see competitiveness. I think hockey IQ is something you’re looking for, but the compete level is so important, right? Just to see what they’re made of internally more so than skill.
I think a lot of guys come here with the misconception of they have to have X amount of points to move forward in the process. For us, it’s more about some intangible stuff, the compete level, physicality, what’s their hockey IQ, what’s their sense of communication. More or less, their stat card is going to tell us if they have the ability to put the puck in the net or not. But just putting on that display in front of the coaches and various scouts we have here [is what we are looking for].”
2. You’re just coming off a long playoff run, going right into a pre-draft camp, then the draft, and the main camp not too long after. Does it make it easier as coaches to prepare for the upcoming season when you really do not have a true “off-season?”
CD: “No. And there is no other way to put that. I think just like anyone else, you need to be able to hit the reset button and come back to reality.
I can speak to you as a husband and a father, I think it is important that you do get away from the game for a little bit. You don’t want to get burnt out. You don’t want to lose your love for the game. I think that’s what separates the good from the great in this sport is the people who truly love the game and miss it. They always want it and have that hunger.
I think you have to step away to get that sense of reality, and again, when you factor in that human element of burn-out, I think it is important to hit that reset button. No different than anyone does at any other job. Take some time to collect your thoughts, reflect on the past season, and then prepare and move forward for the future.”
3. This organization showed it has what it takes to contend for a Robertson Cup. What improvements need to be made to take that next step and win the championship?
CD: “This is certainly the most amount of returners we’ve had coming back, veteran-wise, since I’ve been here, and we’re excited about those players coming back. But I think when you talk about our team, you’d be remiss not to talk about the parts that we’re going to be missing next year.
Make no mistake about it, from Ryan Naumovski (Niagara University Commit) our leading scorer, to the back bone of our team Brandon Perrone (University of Alaska Anchorage Commit), and some special defensemen in Eric Manoukian (Endicott College Commit) and Spencer Stanley. There’s some legitimate holes that we have to solve here through the draft, the camp, the tryout process. You’d be selling our team short not to speak about the excitement of having so many talented returning hockey players coming back, but I think it would be disrespectful not to mention how much we’re going to miss those guys, and how important it is to replace those guys.”
The NAHL Draft is Tuesday, June 4. Follow the Titans picks at NAHLDraft.com