THUNDER BAY -- Nolan Intermoia is more than ready to experience a second taste of victory.
The last holdover from the Thunder Bay Chill’s 2008 Premier Development League champion squad, the newly minted captain has his sights set on the franchise’s second title on the eve of their first taste of live game action.
“I’m the only one from this team to hold that trophy,” Intermoia said at the club’s season opening media conference at their Chapples Park complex on Friday.
“I’ve been there two other times and didn’t have the same result.”
That second time is too fresh in the mind of the defender, who will be entering his eighth season in Thunder Bay.
During the regular season, the squad sported the best record in the 62-team league en route to capturing the Heartland Division and Central Conference crowns.
The run was halted in its final test, the league championship game down in Texas against the host Austin Aztex.
Head coach Tony Colistro has been encouraged by how the many new pieces have started to come together during the two-week training camp period.
“I’m feeling really good about this year’s team. Of course, they have to come together as a team but the last two weeks it has seemed like they’re doing a really good job of that,” Colistro said.
“Our goals are set high because we honestly feel this team is capable of doing that for us.”
The most noticeable difference for this campaign’s club compared to years past is the absence of stalwart goalkeeper Stephen Paterson. After 10 seasons, the homegrown product is yielding his position in between the woodwork to fresh blood.
The competition for the starting job will likely come down to second-year netminder Daniel Alvarado and rookie Australian Mitchell Thorn.
Alvarado, who picked up wins in all six of his regular season appearances last year, still appreciates the tutelage he received from Paterson.
“I think last year gave me a lot of confidence, learning what I learned from (Paterson). Learning from him was a great experience, he has been playing the game for a long time and it’s good to come back,” Alvarado said.
Working with many of the defenders who will lineup in front of him gives Alvarado a leg up in the competition.
“I know what to expect. It’s a good relationship and I think it has gotten a lot better since the first year,” he said.
Other than in goal, the one area of the squad seeing the greatest amount of turnover is in the midfield. Gone are quick, dynamic midfielders Abraham Villon, Jose Altamirano and Pedro Adan. Instead, meet Vitor Huvos, Declan Rodriguez and Artur Alejandro Rodriguez Prat.
Along with returning veteran Dominic Roberts, that group was assembled with size as a primary consideration.
“I think the good thing about is that they’re a little more physical but they’re technical enough to keep the ball just like we were able to last year…We’re looking to keep possession, we’re looking to play and looking to make teams change,” Intermoia said.
“Technically I think we’re just as good. I think in the midfield we have good height and strength. We’re hungry and looking to get back and I think the guys know what it takes to get to that same spot.”
Up front, Colistro expects to have 2012 league player of the year Sullivan Silva available at some point in the regular season after the talented Brazilian underwent a scope of his right knee a couple of weeks ago.
Silva expects to hit the ground running once he is cleared to resume full training and finds himself on the pitch during a match.
“At least we know how the long the recovery is, they told me about four to six weeks,” Silva said. “It was the same thing last year, with new players I was wondering how I was going to fit on the team. In the Final Four I played very well and was satisfied with the way I played with the other guys. It will be the same thing this year.”
He will be vying for time on the front lines with French import Jeremy Poncet, Spanish forward Ivan Argos Ocerin and Canadian Simon Cote-Kougnima.
After not having a healthy striker at the beginning of the season, it’s a nice problem to have for the team.
The talent up front has already kept Intermoia and company busy during training sessions.
“This year, training from a centreback perspective, I think I’ve done a lot more running at practice trying to keep up with those guys,” he said. “They’re causing problems in practice which is great because they’re going to be causing practice in the game.”
The club will kick off their 15th season with exhibition matches Saturday evening and Sunday afternoon against the Winnipeg Lions at the Fort William Stadium.
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