American-born hockey players typically don't spend their winters outside on a pond perfecting their skill like their Canadian counterparts, according to Boston native and new Williamsport Outlaws defenseman Paul D'Agostino.
Most Americans grow up playing hockey in a climate controlled environment, protected from the outside elements.
When D'Agostino learned his new team would be playing its entire 30-game schedule outside, even the New England native took a step back.
"I don't have a lot of experience being outside and playing, so I was a little apprehensive at first when I heard about it," said D'Agostino. "I wondered how exactly this was going to work, but they have a good crew in here putting it together, so hopefully things will go smoothly once Mother Nature starts cooperating."
Mother Nature has already denied the Outlaws several days of training camp. The team was hoping to initially hit the ice last Monday, but were delayed until this week.
Practice time has been lost, but the season and home opener is still scheduled for tonight against the Dayton Demonz. The temperatures for Opening Night are forecasted to hover in the 60s near opening faceoff, comfortable even for an inside arena but not a sheet of ice outside.
Regardless, the Outlaws will make the best of the situation.
"I'm excited about it," said new Outlaws forward Matthew Smyth, who grew up in Orlando but has been playing hockey since he was 6. "It's something new and something different."
First-year defenseman Rob Sich added, "We're here to put on a good show for everybody and with the outdoor atmosphere, I think it could be something special and I'm pretty pumped to be a part of it."
Even D'Agostino's initial apprehension has waned as Wednesday's season opener approaches.
"I think initially that first night might feel like a bit of a novelty to everyone, but we are all excited for that first night because it will be a great experience," said D'Agostino. "After that, though, I don't think there is a fear of it. I think what is going to happen is we are going to get accustomed to it and after a while, it is going to be like every other rink."