by Hat Tricks Staff

DANBURY, CT – The Danbury Hat Tricks (0-0-0) open up their season tonight when they host the Port Huron Prowlers (0-0-0) at 7 p.m. in Danbury Arena.

When the puck drops tonight, it will mark the beginning of the second season of Hat Tricks hockey. In their first season, the Danbury Hat Tricks finished atop the FPHL East Division with a 29-12-0-2-3 record and 94 points.

Port Huron’s finished the 2019-20 season with a 28-14-0-4-0 record and 92 points, placing second in the West Division behind Carolina’s 108 points. Unlike the Hat Tricks, Port Huron was one of four FPHL teams to play last season. The Prowlers finished with an 8-14-0-0-2 record and did not qualify for the playoffs.

Here are five things to look for in the Hat Tricks’ season opener:

1. Long Layoff

When the puck drops on Friday night, it will have been 601 days since the Hat Tricks last took the ice on March 7, 2020 against the Danville Dashers.

The Hat Tricks won the game 4-3 behind a two-goal effort from Carter Shinkaruk and a two-point night from Nicola Levesque.

The Hat Tricks felt like their chance at a championship was taken away from them.

“It was a pretty hard feeling … we were rolling, top of the Eastern Division,” said forward Jonny Ruiz. “It was one of the most fun teams I’ve ever played on, everyone got along. It was a family.”

“So, not being able to hold up that trophy at the end of the year, get some rings for your brothers, kind of hurt,” Ruiz added.

Ruiz and Cory Anderson both have said over the course of camp, “We’ve got unfinished business.”

2. Back at Home

In their inaugural season, the Hat Tricks won 18 of their 25 games at Danbury Arena. This season, the Danbury faithful and Section 102 will be back in the building.

A common theme among the returning Hat Tricks players was their love of the fanbase. Players are eager to get back on the ice and play in front of their fans again.

“The best fans in the league are right here, for sure,” said forward Cory Anderson.

3. New-Look Danbury Arena

Danbury Arena will look a lot different to those who have not been inside since the last Hat Tricks game 601 days ago.

All fans with a ticket to the Hat Tricks game are able to gain admission to the Axe Tricks Throwing Lounge, starting one hour before the game until late after the game.

The Axe Tricks Lounge features a full-service bar, four axe-throwing lanes, billiards, foosball and a big screen to watch the game.

It is located on the second floor of the arena and on the first floor, fans will see a new arcade for the crowd to enjoy a wide variety of games. The arcade features an extensive prize counter.

Concessions areas inside Danbury Arena will feature a new, more extensive menu for fans to enjoy all of their favorite arena classics and much more.

4. Big Mac’s Bench

 Dave MacIsaac will take over the Hat Tricks’ bench this season. MacIsaac brings experience and pedigree behind the bench. Over his playing career, MacIsaac won an NCAA National Championship (University of Maine, 1992-93) and a Calder Cup (Philadelphia Phantoms, 1997-98).

In 2008-09, MacIsaac led the Danbury Mad Hatters to a 30-18-2 record in his first season as a head coach. His stint behind the bench marked his return to Danbury after spending 2004-2006 as a player for the Danbury Trashers.

After his spell as head coach of the Mad Hatters, he coached the Louisiana IceGators in the SPHL for two seasons. As the general manager and head coach of the IceGators, MacIsaac signed goaltender Scott Darling to his first professional contract. Darling went on to be the first and only player to make it to the NHL from the SPHL.

5. Returning Leadership

Of the Hat Tricks top-five scorers in 2019-20, only two are returning for this season. Jonny Ruiz (25-24-49) and Gordy Bonnel (16-28-44) return from that group, but other players are primed to step up for Danbury.

Cory Anderson shined in his rookie season with the Hat Tricks. His 24 goals were tied for second on the Hat Tricks. Anderson played in 36 of Danbury’s 46 games, notching 41 points.

Aaron Atwell also returns and brings a wealth of experience to the Hat Tricks’ blue line. Atwell’s 227 professional games are by far the most on Danbury’s back-end and the inexperienced defensive corps will lean on Atwell throughout the season.

Steve Mele also returns, bringing over 300 professional games of experience, and his brother, with him.

Tom Mele has played almost 400 games at professional levels, making a brief stint in the AHL and spending most of his career in the ECHL.

Despite some of the Hat Tricks roster having limited experience, MacIsaac’s team won’t be short on leadership.

Find the Hat Tricks roster below.

The 2021-22 Hat Tricks Opening Night Roster:

#2 Alex Kielczewski (D)

#4 Dzmitry Daniliuk (D)

#6 Harrison Kass (D)

#7 Vinnie Susi (D)

#9 Gordy Bonnel (F)

#10 Tom Mele (F)

#11 Steve Mele (F)

#14 Kodiak Whiteduck (F)

#16 Mike Lopez (F)

#19 Jonny Ruiz (F)

#22 Kole Beaton (F)

#24 Kenny Garrett (D)

#27 Cory Anderson (F)

#28 Dmitry Kuznetsov (F)

#29 Will McEwen (G)

#30 Cooper Seedott (G)

#32 Kayan Farsad (F)

#77 Aaron Atwell (D)

#81 Tal Finberg (F)

#96 Matyas Kasek (F)

Tickets are available here.

Tonight’s game can be seen live on theDanbury Hat Tricks YouTube page.