After practice Thursday, the Ottawa 67’s took to centre ice, raised their sticks and faced the curious media

General Manager James Boyd went first to answer questions about the team’s recent moves to inject some talent into the roster.

“We were looking for experienced players,” he explained. “We were looking for some older players that could take on leadership roles.” The team gave up picks and forward Kaleb Lawrence as they added four established OHLers in a flurry of trades announced Jan. 8.

The clarification was needed after such a busy trade deadline session. Ottawa, standing sixth in the Eastern Conference, has made key additions including Braeden Kressler and Jacob Maillet, who played centre for their previous teams. The position is a key need for Ottawa, Boyd said.

“Not only in the face off dot, but controlling the middle of the ice, these are key centres in the league,” Boyd said.

Defenceman Samuel Mayer, another addition to the team, offers another need. The former Peterborough Pete is riding an all time high in goals this season. Kressler, who was with Flint before coming to the capital, is also on track right now to at least tie his record last year in terms of points. But for Boyd, these picks are more than their offensive production.

“They’re high character players. We do a lot of background and they’re players who are popular teammates, they have a strong work ethic and they’ve (provided) proven leadership in the league.”

A Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, Kressler added that when moving teams success depends on relationships.

“It’s your linemates: how you communicate with them; how you develop with them; how hard-working all three of you are. It’s that connection you have.”

Maillet and netminder, Ian Michelone, both played for the Windsor Spitfires before joining Ottawa. In return, 67’s goalie Max Donoso has been claimed off waivers by Windsor.

Maillet explained how nice it feels having company for the move.

“It’s always nice having a buddy going to a new team, just seeing a familiar face is always nice and having a guy you can chit chat with. But all the guys have been really good and I’m getting to know them and I’m just excited.”

As for Kressler, he’s looking forward to the road trip this weekend. Ottawa plays three games away from TD Place, and on Sunday, the 67’s face the Western Conference leading Kitchener Rangers. As a native of Kitchener himself, Kressler said he’s looking forward to it.

“I played them once in Kitchner so far this year. It’s a fun barn to play in, all the guys enjoy it throughout the league. Most guys say it’s their favourite arena to play in, and I would agree.”