Cam Russell hasn’t been counting the days, but he can give you a pretty good idea of how long it’s been since the Halifax Mooseheads last hit the ice.

“It’s been long enough,” was how the Mooseheads head coach and general manager summed it up.

If you ask fans, they might say it’s been too long. For those not keeping track, it’s been more than 22 weeks since the Herd ended the 2009-10 season on March 14. And after back-to-back last-place QMJHL finishes, Russell and his front-office cohorts are understandably antsy to give those fans a reward for sticking around.

“We’ve had a lot of patient fans,” Russell said. “We feel we owe everybody a good, competitive hockey season.”

Fans will no doubt be looking to catch a glimpse of highly-touted rookies such as Luca Ciampini, Darcy Ashley, Andrew Ryan and Matthew Boudreau at Cole Harbour Place this week as 42 players, including 20 returning regulars, report for preseason duty.

The same goes for Russell and his staff.

“We have a lot of young, exciting hockey players coming to camp,” he said. “It was nice to see everybody stick with the (rebuilding) plan the past few seasons.

“You can see the light at the end of the tunnel now.”