Twelve to 16 months. That’s normally what it takes for a new junior hockey organization to get up and running.
“That’s the ideal time frame,” said Mike Addesa, general manager of the new Worchester Railers organization in the Eastern Hockey League. “We did it in 5 1/2 months,” Addesa said. “After we got the go-ahead to join the EHL, it was off we go.”
Addesa was lured out of a planned retirement to oversee the Railers operation. The longtime NCAA Division I and junior hockey coach and NHL scout was going to retire Aug. 1 as a scout with the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks. A national search created a coaching staff for the Railers and even though the Railers got a late start in scouting and signing players, they had 43 players on board in late October in their quest to have 25 players each on the EHL and Premier team rosters.
“Our EHL team is near the bottom of the standings, but our Premier team is near the top. I wouldn’t have predicted they would do so well right away,” Addesa said.
“We were moving players up and down between the teams early in the season because of necessity. Now we’re more stabilized.”
James Mello is coach of the Railers’ EHL team and Brian Addesa, Mike’s son, is the assistant coach.
Mike Addesa III, another son of Mike, is the Premier team coach. Sean Bertoni is the assistant coach.
Mello was previously the coach for Rhode Island high school power LaSalle Academy. He led the Rams to the Division 1 state championship in 2018. The Railers have a spectacular home.
They’re one of the tenants of the Fidelity Bank Worchester Ice Center, a facility that opened in 2017 in the revitalized downtown of New England’s second largest city.
In addition to two full-sized sheets of ice, the building has places to eat, a health and fitness center, and an orthopedic center. “Having the health and fitness center right here is a real convenience for our teams,” Mike Addesa said.
Not far away from the Worchester Ice Center is the DCU Center, home of the Worchester Railers of the East Coast Hockey League, an affiliate of the NHL’s New York Islanders.
Cliff Rucker, owner of the ECHL team, built the Worchester Ice Center.
Worchester soon also will be the home of the Worchester Red Sox, the Triple-A affiliate of the Boston Red Sox, in a new stadium.
Hockey is important in the Railers junior hockey organization, Mike Addesa said, but there are higher priorities. “We teach family first, education second, and hockey third,” he said. “I’m also a strong believer in teaching life skills.”