TRAVERSE CITY — There’s not much to improve on when you’re coming off a 47-0-1 season.
Still, the Traverse City Hounds are hoping for just that.
The Hounds — who moved from Hartland after winning the Midwest Junior Hockey League’s inaugural Veteran’s Memorial Cup with that dominant 47-0-1 regular season — kick off their season tonight on the road against the Berkley Bruins.
“I hope it’s the same this year — maybe even better,” forward Clayton Dowlan joked. “We can get rid of that ‘1.’”
Dowlan, who played for Traverse City West his freshman year before playing with the Lansing Senators Midget AAA since, returns to play in Traverse City. He says the entire team is eagerly awaiting tonight’s 7 p.m. season debut that starts a three-game weekend series with the Bruins.
“We’ve been just waiting for the day,” said Dowlan, the youngest player on the team at age 16.
“Our guys are chomping at the bit,” Hounds owner and head coach Scott Gardiner said. “A lot of other teams have played an exhibition game or two. We have not, by design. Now our guys are really hungry and ready to go.”
The Hounds boast a bevy of local players — including Dowlan, Tyler Thirlby, Cam Fisher, Brady Brantley, John Posler, Kenny Simmons and Jake Gillis from Traverse City and Kalkaska’s Scott Luca and Petoskey’s Kevin Hansen.
“Returning guys always play a big role,” Gardiner said. “Cam Fisher is going to play a big role, Tyler Thirlby, Scott Luca, Matt Passino, Jordan Ruterbusch. It’s very important to have these guys in the lineup, because they understand our systems and everything we do so they can help the other players. Jake Gillis is going to be a big-time player for us. I really see him being a force in our league.”