Acadia: Two big team-official announcements in Johnny Corneil and T.J. Fergus went public this week, but the real big news is Logan Flodell making the jump cross-country. Flodell had options all over the map, including OUA and Canada West schools. But in the end, he chose Acadia just like another ex-WHLer in Brandon Glover did years ago. Acadia have had some good success with WHL goalies in the past, namely Kris Westblom, but Glover and Lanny Ramage turned out pretty well too. With Robert Steeves on to greener pastures, the starting job is wide open. We Can’t forget about Dawson Carty who played second fiddle to Steeves last year. Though his numbers aren’t very impressive, he had a terrific OHL overage campaign, and nine games is far too little of a sample size to make an ultimate judgement. Besides, it took Steeves two full years to rise above the crop to play as Acadia’s starter. Flodell is an above average addition in net, but by no means should he be assumed a starting goaltender right away. Is that a record for naming Acadia goalies in a paragraph?
Dalhousie: There was a rumour about a month ago that Brett Crossley of the Halifax Mooseheads might forgo his overage year to play for the Tigers. You can throw that one in the recycling bin for now, as the Yarmouth Mariners of the MJAHL announced his addition. But don’t forget about this just yet. Wouldn’t be surprised to see Crossley in the black and yellow down the road.
Saint Mary’s: The SMU Huskies are quietly and slowly piecing together one of the better offseasons in U SPORTS thus far. With a solid backup goaltender, a gritty, strong, shutdown D, and now Logan DeNoble all on their recruit list, they’ve covered a number of key bases already. The DeNoble acquisition means a lot for SMU’s top six. Already they have an elite-level playmaker in Hunter Garlent and an elite-level finisher in Anthony Repaci. Now you add DeNoble to a list of secondary scoring options including Bronson Beaton, Jake Coughler, and Aaron Berisha. There’s a lot of offensive talent and goal-scoring capability in one sentence. DeNoble managed to nearly equal his career-high goal total in a calamitous season for the Peterborough Petes, and he was among the OHL’s league leaders in power play goals all season long. A long-time friend of Garlent, DeNoble fits the Huskies style of game exceptionally well on paper. It’s hard to not see this one panning out as a slam dunk for both parties.
StFX: Still nothing to confirm out of StFX, but did catch wind of another rumour involving Adam Holwell. The latest is that he could be headed for pro hockey next year instead of StFX. Not surprising considering how well he played down the stretch for Acadie-Bathurst. Never fails, scouts always seem to have a change of heart on overagers who make deep playoff runs.
UNB: Two things of note out of UNB this week. First, James McEwan is now team-official. McEwan is the first player to commit to UNB by way of the Guelph Storm since Tyler Carroll back in the summer of 2011. Strangely enough, Carroll and McEwan both had 39 and 35 points in their final two OHL seasons. In other news, Mike Thomas has been named as an inductee into the Saint John Sea Dogs Hall of Fame. It seems like Thomas has been around forever at UNB, but for five full years he wore his heart on his sleeve for the Sea Dogs. You’ll have a hard time finding a more loyal player and teammate than Thomas.
- After signing with Brest in France 2, long-time friends and former X-Men Trey Lewis and Brad Cuzner have opted out of their deals before they even hit the ice abroad. Not sure about the details or the reasoning.
- Former UPEI Panther and UNB Varsity Red Alex Wall is off to Austria to play for the Vienna Capitals. He joins McGill alum Marc-Andre Dorion and former UPEI teammate Chris DeSousa. He’ll also be coached by ex-NHL benchboss and UPEI alum Dave Cameron.
Carleton: Not much newsworthy from Carleton this week, but an update regarding alum Brett Welychka. After finishing out his season in the AHL with the Manitoba Moose, it sounds like the EIHL could be the next stop for him.
Laurentian: Laurentian add another Jr. A recruit in Haydn Hopkins. Hopkins is one of those guys that seems to have been living out of a suitcase his whole junior career. He’s played for eight different teams in his junior hockey career, ranging from Vancouver to Erie, and now Sudbury. That’s a lot of miles travelled, but it’s still nothing on former Voyageur Charlie Millen who played at least a game for 12 different junior teams before joining Laurentian. As for his skillset, it’s pretty difficult for a casual observer to grasp what his game is all about when he’s been on the move so often. Settling down in a place like Laurentian and earning a defined role could be the best situation. Like we’ve said all year, there’s a ton of room for improvement, which means there’s going to be lots of ice-time and opportunity for those who take the OUA seriously at Laurentian.
Nipissing: The Lakers keep the Jr. A trend going with another acquisition out of the MJAHL in Matt Paul. Pretty clear to see early on that the Lakers are going to have a very young blueline next year, and Paul has a good chance to be a factor on it. It’ll be a strange jump for the Halifax native who’s played his entire junior career out east, but he’s going to get a fresh start in North Bay. He was relied upon fairly heavily in South Shore last year, but the OUA is going to take some adjusting for the youngster. Nobody has a tougher transition period in university hockey than defencemen. It’s important that Paul continues to get opportunity and trusts his game for him to properly develop.
Ottawa: Lots to talk about in Gee-Gee land with a recruit from the junior ranks and a prophesied transfer from Moncton.
Kyle Ward: Coming off a dynamite year where he exploded for 31 goals in 38 regular season games, then another 15 goals in 17 playoff games, Ward was the best overage player in the MJAHL. But that doesn’t mean he’s going to be an offensive juggernaut with Ottawa. Ryerson’s Kyle Tibbo also had an excellent overage year in the MJAHL, but struggled to find his place at Ryerson in his rookie season, scoring just once in the regular season. Ward was a depth grinder in the QMJHL, and there’s a good possibility he fills that role with Ottawa. But his big numbers from last year should earn him an opportunity early in the season to show if his offensive game is up to par in the OUA.
J.F. Plante: All the talk around the league about Plante is how he no longer has the Saulnier twins to feed him pucks on a platter in the slot anymore. There’s some merit to that point, after all, he went from 28 goals with the Saulniers down to 13 a year ago. But the ’17-18 Aigles Bleus were lacking a lot more than just two elite playmakers. Less possession meant less chances for Plante who saw his shot total decline too (still 2nd best in AUS with 112). But there’s something to be said for the playmakers at Ottawa. Cody Drover really showed off his smarts for the game last year. He quietly led the Gee-Gees in points, and his 22 assists ranked T-14 in U SPORTS. But the big difference-maker is Eric Locke. Another top-end talent from the AUS, he was primarily a distributer with the Gee-Gees, but needs to stay healthy. Kevin Domingue just posted 19 goals, so there’s no reason to suggest the Gee-Gees don’t know how to work with exceptional snipers.
RMC: Two more Jr. A recruits are on the way to RMC in ’18-19. For starters, Liam Stagg will enter the OUA as a ’99 birth year. That’s not uncommon for RMC who deployed the youngest player in the country last year, Cameron Lamport, at just 18 years of age. Being so young, it’s really difficult to say just how Stagg fits into the picture. He’s got only a single season in the CCHL to his credit, which means he’s still got time to develop physically and mentally. Both of those facets are what RMC specialize in. Sam Cameron brings a million dollar smile and three years in the MJAHL to the table. Cameron is a player who genuinely wants to be playing at the university level, and he’ll be pursuing a degree in mechanical engineering while he’s at it. It’s a big challenge, but well worth the sacrifices along the way.
UOIT: The Ridgebacks are going back to the SJHL again, this time for a Humboldt Bronco. Bryce Fiske was revealed as a recruit a couple weeks back, and will be physically cleared to play hockey for UOIT come training camp. Of course Fiske is a feel-good story coming out of Humboldt, but he can play hockey too. The Ridgebacks had their eye on him for awhile, and in addition to his defensive awareness, UOIT hope he adds a little more offensive punch to the back-end.
- Some cool news with Concordia alum Olivier Hinse who joins Ravensburg in DEL2. He’ll be playing on the same team as former adversary from McGill, Mathieu Pompei.
Brock: After a cinderella run to the national championship and a profusion of recruits to talk about, the Badgers have found a way to be on the top of the headlines for every month since the start of 2018. Now here’s the breakdown of their newest additions.
Adam Berg: A depth player for most of his junior career, I saw a lot of Berg with the ’16-17 Edmonton Oil Kings. Had a chance to see him again with Chilliwack on their RBC Cup run, and it doesn’t appear much has changed. Berg is still a forward with solid size who moves around well enough and finds ways to make himself useful, whether it’s a clean pass or a hard forecheck. Nothing at all flashy about him, but his impact on the game is felt by his teammates and coaches. Don’t expect Berg to be a staunch offensive threat, but once upon a time he was a 0.73 point-per-game player with the Calgary Mustangs in his rookie season.
Ethan Price: Similar story as Berg with Price. Decent depth player in the WHL with Victoria who saw his numbers make a slight increase with Omaha in the USHL, but never saw his role change drastically. Probably going to be the same case for him at Brock provided everybody stays healthy. There’s lots of players like Price who come from different corners of the continent with similar backgrounds, so a good showing in preseason will be key for a player like him to establish himself as an everyday difference-maker.
Christian DeDonato: The reviews out of Newmarket about this guy are stellar. But most junior teams will happily pump up their alum’s tires. Even then, there’s something to be said for the relationship between him and the Hurricanes, which is phenomenal. He’s been a favourite of everybody over the years, and in a league where players are shipped around extremely often, sticking with the same team for five seasons is an impressive achievement. If the Badgers end up liking DeDonato as much as Newmarket did it’s going to work out well.
Connor Walters: For those in tune with my Twitter account lately, you’ll know my thoughts on how Walters played down the stretch for Hamilton. He’s coming to Brock in good form, and with a hefty turnover, easily slides into their top four. Brock’s defence last season played their best hockey as a group down the stretch and did it all without a bonafide star. Walters isn’t one either, but on paper he and Dexter Weber stand out as two of the most reliable at high-levels.
Logan Thompson: If there’s anything Brock doesn’t need to worry about for next year, it’s their goaltending situation. Even without Clint Windsor, they have some good-looking depth with Jr. A standout Mario Cavaliere and now Thompson. Thompson lost out on the starting job to Dylan Myskiw in the playoffs, which leaves somewhat of a sour taste in his mouth to end his WHL career. But his overage regular season was among the best in the league. If his tenure is anything like Windsor’s has been over the years, he’ll need to be prepared to see a lot of rubber with Brock.
Guelph: Loads of news to talk about with Guelph right now, so let’s break down what we can.
Ryan Valentini: Here’s a shot in the dark recruit for you. Valentini has a 50 point season to his credit in the OHL with the Sudbury Wolves in ’16-17. Things were looking promising for him headed into ’17-18, but a lower-body injury effectively ended his season just one game in. It practically killed all the momentum Valentini had going for him, but he gets to hit the reset button at Guelph. If he stays healthy and confident, he’s got the talent and skill to produce good numbers for the Gryphons. This reminds me of the time Dalhousie took a shot with Ryan Falkenham who also battled injuries, but unfortunately never played in the AUS. Let’s hope this story has a better ending.
Teal Burns: Not exactly a ‘recruit’ per say, but a notable addition nonetheless. Rumour has it Guelph nearly brought him in for second semester this year, but they thought better of burning a year of eligibility on Burns on a team that was already in the top three of the OUA West. Burns was a veteran of the WHL who rounded out his career in the BCHL before putting together two productive seasons at Guelph including a 23 point year in ’14-15. That kind of secondary production will go a ways in helping replace what they lose with a guy like Trevor Morbeck.
Ted Nichol: Nichol managed to put together a very respectable junior career which saw him captain a star-studded Kingston Frontenacs team this year. But there’s still a lot of untapped potential in his game we never saw with the Frontenacs. There were flashes of it when Nichol put up 18 goals in ’16-17, but never quite turned into the full-package centre some thought he might prior to the OHL draft. The Gryphons have a tendency to bring out the best in players, and Nichol could be the next guy to fit that bill perfectly. If Shawn Camp can turn Marc Stevens into a top line sniper, why can’t Ted Nichol be a top line centre?
Jesse Saban: There’s not a ton of turnover on the Guelph blueline, but they lose a stalwart in Josh McFadden. Saban doesn’t replace all that McFadden was, but he’s certainly going to help Guelph defensively right away. Look for Patrick Kudla or Mathieu Henderson to jump at the top-pairing minutes, but close behind will be Saban. He’s a hard-nosed player who should be able to handle most assignments the OUA has for him.
Lakehead: Lakehead add to their modest recruit list so far with a product of the MJAHL in Jordan King. Originally out of Brampton, Ont., King jumped out east to play his junior hockey. After a brief stint in the QMJHL, King posted back-to-back 50 assist seasons with the Amherst Ramblers. Like I’ve said before, the transition to university seems to be harder for players out of the MJAHL than most, but Alexis Roy (Moncton), Cody Drover (Ottawa), and Colin Campbell (Nipissing) have managed to translate their offence from one league to another.
Laurier: Interesting situation developing with Laurier netminding. The Notre Dame Hounds announced goaltender Jacob Standen is off to Laurier next year and joins Chris Festarini and fellow recruit Tyler Fassl in the net. Standen’s year was fairly pedestrian, while Fassl was excellent in the OJHL, and Festarini is the returning veteran. It’s possible Laurier is going with the three man system they did a few years back with Colin Furlong, Vinny Merante, and Festarini.
Ryerson: As Ryerson’s fast and furious offseason draws to a close, they tack on another OHL recruit in Jake Henderson. Once again aiming for size and physicality, the Rams think they’ve landed another player to make them a tougher, more bothersome opponent. Henderson spent about three and a half years with the Kitchener Rangers before a trade sent him to North Bay where he fit into the typical Stan Butler style of play. Although he’s coming off a career-best season offensively, he’s going to be hard pressed to find himself in offensive situations at Ryerson.
Waterloo: It wasn’t long ago that the Warriors had one of the best defensive corps in the entire OUA, if not, the country. Mike Moffat, Joe Underwood, Sam Caldwell, Cam Wind, and Stephen Silas gave Waterloo one of the most stable bluelines, but the most offensively productive in the league too. Years later, all those pieces have moved on, and Waterloo are trying to put new ones back together. It’s clear they’re attempting to do that with Jr. A players this time around. David Radke is the latest addition to the group incoming from the NCAA, but never played a game a season ago. Tough to imagine him making a big impact, but you never know. They also get Andrew Cordssen-David who’s coming off a nice season in Georgetown.
Western: No recruit news from Western, but Chris Corbeil continues to be a winner everywhere he goes. After playing this year with the Mustangs, Corbeil just won the NLL title with the Saskatchewan Rush last week.
York: York are going back to the well out west again with Rylee Zimmer from the Virden Oil Capitals. Zimmer has bounced all over the junior ranks, but boasts some pretty good numbers, especially with Flin Flon in ’16-17. There seem to be some similarities already to Colton Vannucci who’s turned out to be an excellent recruit for York from Drumheller in the AJHL.
- Josh McFadden is on his way to a post-university career after two effective seasons with Guelph. McFadden will be joining the Sheffield Steelers in the EIHL. At the end of this last season, there was a thought he might latch on with the Belleville Senators, but injuries prevented that from materializing.
- The team associated with the rumour about an ex-NHL goaltender attempting to become eligible for U SPORTS hockey is the Guelph Gryphons.
Alberta: Two sizeable additions on the way to Alberta in the form of Ty Stanton and Grayson Pawlenchuk. Pawlenchuk joins Luke Philp as a former Red Deer captain to join the Golden Bears. Stanton keeps the ridiculously long-time running Medicine Hat Tigers to Alberta pipeline going. Stanton just spent a full year with NAIT in the CCAA making him eligible for U SPORTS right away. Typically, you’d say he’s primed to be, at worst, a top four defenceman in U SPORTS. But on Alberta… that’s not a given by any means.
Calgary: Here’s what we know about the Matt Alfaro situation. On the night of June 15th, Alfaro, joined by friends Ryan Vandervlis and Jordy Bellerive, were at a campfire at Tyler Wong’s parents’ house. The group was planning for a golf excursion the next day. After a explosion resulted from starting a campfire with wet wood, the three were rushed to hospital. While Alfaro and Bellerive are both in stable condition, Vandervlis remains in a medically induced coma. More to come as the facts of the situation surface.
Manitoba: Minor addition, but one worth noting anyways. Manitoba are bringing in forward Thomas Lenchyshyn from the Nipawin Hawks. Yet another Hawk on the way to U SPORTS, Lenchyshyn was second in the SJHL with a whopping 215 PIMs in ’17-18. Obviously the physicality, grit, and tenacity are all things Manitoba expect to get with this addition. Lenchyshyn has bounced between forward and defence in the past too, so perhaps his versatility might help his chances of staying in the lineup.
Mount Royal: The MRU Cougars get marginally better with the acquisition of a very solid WHL defender in Kade Jensen. A local of the Calgary region, Jensen was brought in midway through the season by Victoria from the Brandon Wheat Kings. Jensen has been limited offensively, but his size and shutdown capabilities have made him a valuable commodity in the WHL. He satisfies a need for more shutdown options on Mount Royal whose defence was very green a year ago. Brandan Arnold also enters the equation coming from the Nipawin Hawks. A small forward who never put up great numbers in the WHL with Swift Current, Arnold clearly made a big offensive impact in the SJHL. The idea is he can do the same at Mount Royal and have a similar impact on the team as Tanner Olstad.
Saskatchewan: With the Huskies losing a couple long-time key defenders this offseason, they go out and add a big name to replace one of them right away with Gordie Ballhorn. After breaking out for 42 points with the Kelowna Rockets functioning as secondary puck-moving D-Man option to Cal Foote, Ballhorn was getting some valid pro interest. But he’ll end up on a Saskatchewan team who might have a spot for him to play meaningful minutes right away. Worth noting, there’s still a few players in the program who could be due for a promotion in MacKenzie Johnston and Sam Ruopp.
- Matt Bradley has now officially inked his AHL deal. He’ll be headed to the Toronto Marlies in ’18-19.