The Eagle River Falcons mens hockey team will open their 2021-’22 Great Lakes Hockey League season this coming Saturday, and they’ll do so on their home ice as they’ll welcome the West Bend Bombers to the Eagle River Dome for an 8 p.m. matchup.

Bob McDonald said the excitement surrounding this year’s team is unlike any other, partly due to the fact there was no hockey for the Falcons last season due to the pandemic, and also because they return a roster of over 20 players that’s littered with talent.

“For the most part we’ve got our core group of guys from our first two lines and then a mix of returning players who’ve skated with us in the past and a couple of newcomers,” said McDonald. “To be honest, this might be one of the most well-assembled teams in terms of talent we’ve seen in over 20 years.”

Goal scorers Derek Tijan, Lucas and Mike Otto, Bryan Kronberger and newcomer Alex Racino will likely be some of the top point scorers for the Falcons offensive this season. In goal will be a couple of familiar faces in Richard Yeshe and Mike Madosh.

“Rich and Mike make up part of the best duo we’ve had in goal for awhile,” said McDonald. “Top to bottom this roster is pretty tough.”

Two years ago the Falcons got off to a fast start in league play, opening the season with a 5-1 mark before tapering off to finish the regular season with an 8-10 overall mark. After taking last year off, McDonald was encouraged with the turnout at the teams open scrimmage in Minocqua last week where 22 players suited up.

“Everyone has the same sentiments going into this year, and it’s we’re ready to go and hopefully the fans are too,” said McDonald. “There’s a lot of people we’ve talked to who are ready to come back out to the Dome. And some who are ready to come out for the first time.”

This weekend the team will honor longtime Falcons supporter Gene Adamovich. A remembrance along with a moment of silence will be held prior to the game scheduled for an 8 p.m. start.

“Gene was a big supporter of this program and hockey in general, so we wanted to do something to make sure people didn’t forget how important he was to a lot of us,” said McDonald. “We hope for a good start to the season in his memory.”

Following their opener Saturday, the team will hit the road Dec. 10 to face the Mosinee Papermakers in the opening round of the Wisconsin River Cup dual. Eagle River will host the rematch the following night in a game set for 8 p.m.