By Joe Bachman
WISCONSIN RAPIDS — Not only is a return to Boston for nationals in the cross-hairs for Riverkings Head Coach Marty Quarters, but this time the goal is to simply win it all.
According to Quarters, the team came into camp as the most hard-working, well-conditioned group of players to date. Having last year’s USPHL’s MVP Ryan Mantz come back this season doesn’t hurt, either.
“Having him back is a gift,” said Quarters.
The Riverkings coach also sang the praises of forward Austyn Quarters, who he expects to take on a bigger role this season. Adam Peterson also returns to the ice, and looks to improve on his 70 points from last year.
Goalie Eric Schuette will again be in net this season and will seek to be the main line of defense for the kings of the river. He’ll have help, though, as defenseman Brett Delatt returns this year who Quarters expects to take on a bigger defensive role. However, some of the biggest additions aren’t just returning players, but newcomers to Wisconsin Rapids, and this includes the 6’4, 210-pounder Jacob Gaydos.
“He’s really going to add some size and top-level playing from the programs he’s come from.” said Quarters. “Our D is going to be bigger, and faster.”
Tommy McManus, who is the brother of former Riverkings player John McManus will make his debut this year, and looks to make an impact for this year’s squad. Another name to keep in mind would be California native Raymond Fleming, who according to Quarters has been a “pleasant surprise” in camp. Not to be out-done, Russian import Daniil Piliya has also made an impact on the ice in camp. However, the biggest surprise has come from Rochester, N.Y. native Jesse Edwards, who is the only player signed out of the Riverkings tryouts.
Quarters also expects second-year players Kyle McCauley, Kyle Smith, and Rich Young to step up their play this year. With 17 junior players on the squad this season, Quarters is optimistic that great things will come out of this year.
“Last year was a great season, but the outcome wasn’t what we wanted it to be at nationals,” said Quarters. “Our returning players, and other players that have signed here from other teams want to be a part of something that not only gets us to Boston, but will have a better chance of winning once we get there.”
The Riverkings head to Spooner to play the Wisconsin Muskies on Sept. 15, and open up their season at home against Hudson on Sept. 22.