He enjoys exhibition games. They give him a chance to continue to polish his skills and he always loves competition.
But for Soo Greyhounds defenceman Jacob Holmes, there’ll be nothing like the regular season.
On Sept. 20, the Hounds are slated to begin the 2019-2020 campaign against the Flint Firebirds at GFL Memorial Gardens.
“I’m so excited for opening night,” said Holmes, taken by the Hounds in the first round (No. 18 overall) of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selections draft. “That’ll be a proud night.”
The native of Alliston, Ont., just south of Barrie, expects his parents, Trevor and Mary Ann Holmes, to be in attendance.
“For sure, they’ll be some butterflies, but I can’t wait to get going,” said the six-foot-one, 174-pounder. “I’ve always wanted to play in the OHL.”
It’s that drive and determination which have the Hounds excited.
They like the way Holmes handles and moves the puck. He has the ability to jump into the rush, a key component of the Greyhounds puck-possession style.
“He’s pretty mature for his age,” offered associate coach Jordan Smith, who runs the Soo’s defence. “He’s willing to learn and he wants to take in as much as he can. And he has a canon.”
It’s that shot the Hounds hope to one day employ on their power play on a regular basis.
For now, Holmes says he’s striving to simply be the best player he can be.
“I want to work for my ice time and see where it takes me,” added the defenceman, while preparing for Thursday’s exhibition game in Sarnia.
The Hounds oppose the Sting in a 6:30 p.m. start.
It’s the Soo’s second of three preseason clashes.
They’ll wrap things up on Sunday with a 2:07 p.m. start against Sudbury at the Gardens.
“Exhibition games are always a learning experience – especially this being my first year,” Holmes said. “I’m just trying to take everything in and develop as a player.”
Having gone through training camp, an exhibition test in Sudbury and day-to-day practice sessions as an OHLer, Holmes said the league is all he expected it to be – and more.
“I expected it to be fast and it has been,” he said. “I expected it would be more physical and it has been. Guys are stronger on pucks, but I’m comfortable with that.”
Determined to be a strong, two-way player, Holmes realizes his defensive play is something he must improve.
“But each day I’m on the ice, I’m working towards being better,” he said.