CHARLOTTETOWN – The playing surface has arrived. The team has been selected. It's almost game time for the Island Storm.
The new $102,000 US floor arrived Monday at Eastlink Centre in preparation for Saturday’s home opener for the National Basketball League of Canada team. The first game will be played at 7 p.m. against the Saint John Mill Rats.
It will come about 21 hours after the final buzzer sounds for the Charlottetown Islanders hockey game with the Sherbrooke Phoenix.
“Once the Islanders game is over, we’ll flood the ice, we’ll put the arena deck down, we’ll take the glass out and then the basketball floor and the backstops will go up,” Eastlink Centre general manger David McGrath explained on Tuesday.
“We’re hoping that we’re going to be able to convert the facility over and the set up over eight hours.”
The maple floor was purchased from Horner Sports Flooring by the City of Charlottetown with one of its selling points being the ease to install and remove it.
“It’s a patent system, no loose parts like the other floors have,” McGrath said.
There are 217 sections that are each four-by-seven feet long that connect together to form the floor. A technician walked the centre staff through the setup on Monday.
Storm coach Joe Salerno said he was “thrilled” when he got a glimpse of it.
“I think it will be one of the nicest floors in the league. It is an NBA-calibre floor,” he said of the cosmetic-look of the floor with the large Storm logo at centre court and two-tone colour scheme. “We’re all excited to get down there and get on it this weekend.”
The Storm finalized its roster Tuesday by releasing point guard Oliver McNally, centre Cody Boone and small forward Jamarcus Ellis.
“We’re really excited about this roster,” Salerno said. “I think we’re a stronger team coming out of camp this year than we were last year.”
The team includes six returnees and six newcomers.
“We have a great group of veteran guys who like to share the basketball and love to win,” Salerno said. “When we all get on the same page, I think we will be as competitive as anyone.”
The Eastlink Centre will hold about 4,000 fans for a basketball game, including 273 seats on the floor. The clock will be used for basketball, but like many facilities’ clocks it comes with a drawback for basketball.
“It doesn’t have the three digits for the scores,” McGrath said. “We’ll see how often they get into the hundreds, hopefully quite a bit,” at least the home team.
What – A National Basketball League of Canada franchise that relocated this year from Summerside to Charlottetown.
Home venue – Eastlink Centre.
Saint John Mill Rats at Island Storm, 7 p.m.
Moncton Miracles at Island Storm, 2 p.m.
Entertainment – Musicians Courtney Hogan and Adam MacGregor will provide pre-game and halftime entertainment at Saturday’s home opener, with the Confederation Centre’s Youth Chorus, under the direction of Don Fraser, performing O Canada.
Franchise first – The Island Storm will be unveiling a mascot at the Sunday afternoon contest.
The Island Storm announced its final 12-man roster on Tuesday. It includes the player’s height, college and hometown.
Al Stewart, 5’10”, Drake, Chicago, IL
Derek Coleman, 5’11”, Robert Morris, Dorchester, MA
Greg Plummer, 6’4”, Eckerd College, Brooklyn, NY
Shawn Vanzant, 6’1”, Butler, Tampa, FL
Ashton Graham, 6’4”, U. of Tampa, Toronto
Semaj Inge, 6’5”, Temple, Camden, NJ
Antonio Ballard, 6’5”, Miami-Ohio, Lexington, KY
Dwayne Smith, 6’6”, G. Washington, Toronto
Doug McKinney, 6’9”, UPEI, Charlottetown
Amani Daanish, 6’8”, Indiana State, Los Angeles, CA
Antoine Tisby, 6’8”, S. Carolina, Kansas City, KS
Nick Evans, 6’11”, S. Illinois, Carbondale, IL