Aug 13, 2018 Updated Aug 13, 2018
Casey Mignone has had four months to prepare.
It’s felt like four hours.
The first-year head coach of the Rochester Grizzlies, the new North American 3 Hockey League franchise that will play at the Rochester Recreation Center, was hired in mid-April by owners Mike Cooper and Craig Patrick, who also own the Austin Bruins, a junior hockey team that plays in the Tier II North American Hockey League.
Things haven’t slowed down a bit for the Ramsey, N.J., native, who played NCAA Division III college hockey at Lebanon Valley College in Annville, Pa., and at Westfield (Mass.) State University. He spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach at Johnson & Wales, a Division III program in Providence, R.I.
Mignone sat down with the Post Bulletin late last week to talk about building the Grizzlies’ first roster and the season ahead. The Grizzlies’ first practice of the season is set for two weeks from today, Aug. 27.
POST BULLETIN: Your roster is pretty well set as you look ahead to fall camp starting in two weeks. What do you like about the group you’ve assembled?
MIGNONE: We’re going to start with 25-ish guys, in that range, we’ll get into practice and go from there. It’s a nice mix of young and old. We have some guys with experience, and we have some guys who are still in high school. It’s a promising group. The most exciting thing is that everybody is kind of new. We don’t have a first line returning, or a top (defensive) pairing, or a starting goalie. It’s going to be the utmost competition from Day 1. I told the guys, ‘If you want to be our first-line center, let’s see it. Prove it to us.’ That’s what I’m looking forward to most.
PB: Knowing that, will you mix-and-match guys early in the season, try a lot of different line combinations to find out which ones work best?
MIGNONE: It’s going to be pretty fluid with that, especially through the first month. We might find a couple guys we’d like to keep together, but everyone is going to get a fair crack at earning their spot. Once we get into October, we hope to settle into some things and give guys an opportunity to keep their roles. The first month, we’ll throw ’em in the blender every night and see what we have. If we find something we like, we’ll stick with it.