|April 10, 2018 « Back « Previous Next »|
Being a hockey player we have to make an important decision every year. Where we’ll play next season? My name is Jason Raimondi from Buffalo, New York and this past season was my second season in the GMHL. I started off with the Orangeville Ice Crushers as an assistant captain and then got traded to the Parry Sound Islanders where we went to the finals and lost to the Niagara Whalers. This 2017-18 season I finished my junior career with the Toronto Predators as the assistant captain along with being awarded “Best Defensive Forward” and the “Caydon Edwards Leadership Award”. The Predators as an organization gave me the optimum experience of what a true Junior “A” team is like in all aspects.
Before even getting to the rink, seeing the locker room, or playing any hockey, I was already in love. Toronto....... I mean if you’re asking me when it comes to a place to be, it doesn’t get better than that! Endless things to do, see, and experience. As far as transportation and living go, don’t stress about. I had a car while I was there but besides driving to the rink, the majority of my transportation was done walking or using the train station/subway. Regardless of whether Coach Turnbull keeps the same house I lived in or not. I can guarantee it’ll be amazing and better than what you expect. The house I stayed in was unbelievable, lots of room, full-size kitchen, washer and dryer, bathrooms in each bedroom, and only about a five-minute walk to the subway station and fifth teen minute car ride to the rink. Although some of those things might sound normal to some or for players that will be experiencing their first year of juniors, throughout my junior career I have learned that it can be rare to find all of that together.
Throughout the week there was usually three different days. Practice, game, or an off day. We practiced five days a week depending on if we had any games. Mondays and Fridays were more of an open skate. Players could either get together and work on drills or do their own personal drills. Tuesday through Thursday scheduled team practices. For home games, we had to be at the rink two hours before and away games a forty-five minutes before departure. We got coach buses for every away game and after the games, we got dinner (usually pizza). On our days off we were free to do whatever we pleased whether that was just relaxing at the house, going to the gym, or going downtown. With having a lot of free time throughout the week an important perk we were given by the organization was a gym membership, but that wasn’t all. Team tape, wax, gloves, pant shells, socks, and free skate sharpening’s were also supplied to us throughout the year. Our locker room was the best I’d ever had without a doubt and was made up of 5 sections. A coach's office, sharpening and supply room, laundry room, team lounge, and then the locker room that consisted of showers, a bathroom, stick rack, and a stall for each player.
Coach Turnbull, which you will learn if you sign with the Toronto Predators at the end of the day wants what’s best for you. Whether you are looking to move on to the next level whatever that may be (college/pro/juniors), improving your skills, or even just a last “hoorah” in juniors. Coach is a well-known and recognized veteran at what he does and has connections that most organizations don’t have. Just before making my decision to play for the Predators I was caught in a conflict no player wants to be in. I was lined up to play for another team in the GMHL but could not sign with them because my previous team was giving them a hard time about giving up my rights. So just about a little less than a month before the season was starting I had no team to go to. I started emailing around to find a team that was willing to make a deal with my previous team and had no luck until I called Toronto. The day I emailed Coach Turnbull I got a response a few hours later and within the next week, I was signed with the Predators.
Looking back at this past season I have no regrets. Not only did I have a memorable time with an outstanding organization, new teammates, and a successful season. But, I did it all in one of the greatest cities in the world. As far as the future with hockey goes for me, the options I have for next year is playing college hockey or pro overseas. Coach Turnbull has already come in contact with college coaches and sent out emails not just for me, but my teammates as well. With all the support and effort Coach Turnbull and the organization has given me throughout the year, I have no doubt in my mind that I will be given an opportunity to play somewhere next season if that’s the route I choose.