Columbus Cottonmouths center Jordan Braid left town last April planning to hang up his skates and join the working world.
Braid had a change of heart in Australia.
"I'll figure out that career thing later," Braid said. "I don't want to go home for a Canadian winter. I'm scared of snow now."
The Saskatchewan, Canada, native was signed to the training camp roster along with Jordan Draper and rookie Tory Allan.
The three join fellow forwards Will Aide, Matt Gingera, Levi Lind, Jason Yuel and Jordan Zalba. Also headed to training camp on Oct. 13 are defensemen Chris Bailer, Jason Gray and Kyle Johnson.
Braid returns for his fourth season with the Snakes. He's amassed 128 points, 60 goals and 68 assists while adding 124 penalty minutes. Two seasons ago, Braid led the Snakes in scoring with 52 points and last season he was second to Gingera with 42 points.
"There were so many ups and downs last season," Braid said. "When we were playing well, we were one of the best teams in the league. Then we disappeared in the playoffs. It was over so quickly with back-to-back shutouts."
Braid headed to Australia where he spent the off-season playing hockey. It has been a positive experience in more ways than one.
"I got over here and started playing this summer," Braid said. "I got the itch to play one more season. I want to go out with a bang. It has been a great experience here. We're treated very well and everyone's very friendly. We've got good guys on the team. We get a place to stay and I've got a job where the wages are good. We fly everywhere and have gotten to see the big cities nearby. We went to Sydney last weekend and are about to take another trip on Sunday."
Braid compared the level of competition to senior hockey in Canada.
"The barn holds about 800 people and it's packed every night," Braid said. "There are people standing around the boards. It's competitive, but you're playing for fun instead of it being your job."
Draper will report to camp with Tulsa of the Central Hockey League with plans to head to Columbus if he doesn't make the Oilers' roster.
"I don't really know what to expect," Draper said. "I'm going with a guy I know, so that will make it easier. I really enjoyed my time in Columbus. I went there with no real plans to come back. I figured I'd come home and finish my schooling. But I really liked it there. Coming back to Columbus would be an easy transition."
This will be Draper's first professional training camp. He played one season in the Western Hockey league, junior hockey in Alberta and one semester at York University. Draper and Johnson were teammates at the North Alberta Institute of Technology. Draper arrived in Columbus just before the Snakes' brief playoff appearance.
The Snakes were swept in the opening round of the 2012-2013 playoffs by Knoxville, suffering a pair of 2-0 shutout losses.
"I only played two games," Draper said. "I didn't get that good a look. The level of play was better than I thought it would be. The playoff atmosphere in Knoxville was really nuts. We deserved a better outcome."
In three full seasons in juniors with the Spruce Grove Saints, Draper scored 137 points in 107 games played. In one season at NAIT, he scored 15 points in 12 games played.
Allan is going to try his luck with South Carolina (ECHL) and then head to Columbus. He has experience both in juniors, with the Humboldt Broncos, and at the collegiate level, with Norwich University. In his last season with Humboldt, Allan scored 53 points in 55 games played. In his final year at Norwich, he chipped in 31 points in 28 games.
"I like to score," Allan said. "I like to be a big part of the offense. I'm a good skater and I shoot the puck pretty well."
Allan got a call from Cottonmouths general manager and head coach Jerome Bechard.
"Jerome called me out of the blue and asked me if I wanted to come down," Allan said. "I didn't know much about the league. He got me the tryout in South Carolina."