Professional hockey is now officially in Watertown. The 1000 Islands Privateers introduced themselves to the city on Thursday. As our Brian Dwyer tells us, the team will become not only the hockey anchor for the area, but also plans to play a major role in the community.
WATERTOWN, N.Y. -- After two seasons in Alexandria Bay, the 1000 Islands Privateers now officially have a new home.
"We're so enthusiastically happy about moving here," 1000 Islands Privateers owner Nicole Kirnan said. "We just see this as a tremendous opportunity. It's such a much more populated area. We're that much closer to Fort Drum."
The Privateers are a professional "A" level team that's designed to help teach and grow players, maybe even advancing their career to leagues like the ECHL. And as it gets ready to take the ice in a few months, the team promises to not only leave behind some of the on-ice issues it had in Alexandria Bay, but to bring a high quality product to Watertown that can compete for championships.
"We want to have a tough team," 1000 Islands Privateers head coach Paul Kelly said. "We want guys who are willing to go, pay the price and go the extra mile to be successful."
As part of that extra mile, the team promises to be great off the ice as well, saying it'll have players visiting schools, hospitals and helping at camps on off days.
"We understand that to make a team like this work, we need to be in the community. We can't just come in and expect people to support us, we need to support everything that's going on in the community," Kirnan said.
And for a city that's been looking for that anchor for its arena, Mayor Jeff Graham says the Privateers are a great fit.
"To provide recreational opportunities for local citizens, not just in the city but the local area. It develops commercial activity that goes with it and hopefully that will allow and support other activities that we've got," Graham said.
The team is only on a one year deal, so if it doesn't work out, it's not a major loss, but Graham says he sees no reason why it wouldn't and would love the team to be here long term.
The season starts this fall.
Season tickets are already available and the team hopes to attract a few more corporate sponsors.