Difficult as it may be for some to believe, hockey season is fast approaching.
The Houston Aeros are currently holding their training camp in Sugar Land, and more and more players are arriving in camp from Minnesota after being sent there by the parent club. Head coach Kevin Constantine returns to the team this year, and at the moment, he's working to learn all of the new guys while trying to determine his roster for this upcoming season.
One of the new players is center Peter Zingoni, who suffered through an injury-plagued season with the Norfolk Admirals last season. Zingoni likes what he has seen of the team, and he is eager for the season to start so that he can show he's healthy and primed for a breakout season.
"I bring a lot of energy, a lot of passion to the game," he said after practice yesterday. "Hopefully I contribute a lot in the goal department. Score some goals and create a lot of opportunities."
Zingoni's adjusting to the city while he tries to cement his roster spot. And while he likes what he's seen of the city, he likes even more what he has seen of the Aeros.
"I love the fact of how much passion and thought is put into the game down here," he said. "It's almost like their own little system. I think it compliments the way I play. A lot of hard work. A lot of energy. A lot of aggressiveness. It makes it an exciting game to play in, and to watch. I know [coach Kevin Constantine] puts a very strict focus on holding players responsible. I couldn't ask more as a player than to have a coach like that to work with. So I'm very excited about the opportunity really."
And he's a big fan of Constantine's coaching style, a style that involves a lot of video review.
"I think from an individual standpoint, I love it. I'm very fortunate that they do that. I've been on a lot teams that have done that, and have not done that, in the past. And I've definitely benefited individually from the teams that have," he said. "You take a look at game tape and there's some things you're doing right, and some things you're doing wrong. And from that, and from some things you're doing right, you build some confidence off that. Things you're doing wrong, you know not to do that next time."
Last season was a strange one for Zingoni. He broke his wrist during the sixth game of the season, and he had to have surgery and two pins installed. He was able to return to the team after the AHL All Star Game, but he was never able to get back into a groove.
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This was partly due to matters involving Norfolk's parent club, the Tampa Bay Lightning. "We had a weird situation in Norfolk last year where a lot of guys were getting sent down, and I didn't play all that much. So I'm just fortunate for the opportunity from Jim and I'm just looking to put last year behind me."
So Zingoni's ready for this season to get started, and he's ready to get out on the ice in game conditions with his new teammates. He likes what he's seen from the team so far, saying "we have a lot of guys who want to win."
The Aeros' quest to win this season officially begins next Friday and Saturday when they travel to Winnipeg for two games against the Manitoba Moose. The team's home opener is on Friday, October 9 when they host the Texas Stars.
But if you're really ready for some hockey, you can head out to the team's practice facility in Sugar Land on Saturday night. The Aeros will be taking on the San Antonio Rampage in a preseason match-up that might go a long way to deciding some final roster spots for both teams.