Photo: James West/U SPORTS

AUS

Acadia: In addition to the rumours regarding Johnny Corneil committing to Acadia, T.J. Fergus is also in the mix for 2018-19. After bouncing around the OHL ranks for the final part of his career, Fergus settled in quite nicely with the Barrie Colts by the end of the year. Fergus doesn’t have the same star power as some other players on the OHL market do, but you’re going to have a hard time finding a more complete blueliner than Fergus. He’s not a specialist at a single aspect, but a ‘jack of all trades’ type defenceman. Add him to an Acadia D recruit class with Loch Morrison and Ross MacDougall, and you’re looking at a rock solid trio.

Dalhousie: Nothing new from the Tigers for now.

Moncton: Another quiet week for Moncton.

Saint Mary’s: This one came up real quickly over the weekend, but it appears the Huskies have Jacob Friend of the Owen Sound Attack lined up for 2018-19 should he not go pro. Friend is one of a number of players whose signing rights expired on June 1st after the L.A. Kings did not offer him a contract. Saint Mary’s found great success with Alex Peters and Dylan DiPerna from the OHL last year, so it makes sense they go back. Friend was captain of the Attack this year, and was one of the most fearsome hitters in the whole league. He’s not an above average player in terms of size, but he’s a physical customer who has a reputation of never backing down. Expect him to be in the heat of battle all year long for SMU. The Huskies also bring on goalie Xavier Potvin from Whitecourt in the AJHL who will start out as the backup to Eric Brassard.

StFX: Lots of rumours right now regarding players headed to StFX, but still sorting out the pretenders from the contenders. Now that the majority of UNB’s recruit class is out of the way, there’s going to be more news from the X-Men.

UNB: Lots and lots of news over the past two weeks regarding UNB recruits, so let’s break them down.

Joe GatenbyBig splash on the blueline for UNB with Joe Gatenby. Gatenby was by all standards one of the best overage D-Men in the entire CHL. He’s an accomplished player in the WHL with Kamloops and Kelwona, with his best team success coming with the Rockets. Gatenby was a defensive stalwart on Kelowna during their deep playoff runs, but his offence really came alive under Don Hay in Kamloops. He goes from one legendary coach to another and can be a top four D right away on UNB. His skillset projects to be similar to Randy Gazzola and Matt Murphy given more time to develop and adjust.

Matthew BoucherSticking with the leadership theme, the V-Reds go out and recruit another captain in Boucher who just led the way for the Remparts over the last two seasons. In his last three seasons with Québec, he’s been a prominent player for them with two 30+ goal seasons and also led Québec in PIMs this year. Boucher isn’t afraid to mix it up, but has a healthy amount of skill packed into his game as well. But those tenacious tendencies might be what makes him a great fit to start in UNB’s bottom six. With Mark Rassell being your big ticket recruit for goal scoring and a lot of familiar faces in the top six returning, Boucher may take time to reach full potential at UNB.

James McEwanThis is a surprising recruit on the surface, but makes more sense when you begin to unpack it. McEwan has been a solid player for four years with the Guelph Storm, but unlike a lot of UNB recruits, never made it past the first round of the playoffs. McEwan has also seen his numbers decline for two years after scoring 25 goals in ’15-16. But UNB didn’t bring in him for goals or point scoring. McEwan is a beloved member of the Storm community. He’s been through the good and the bad with Guelph in recent times, and most importantly, he’s a competitor. That’s a prerequisite to be a UNB recruit. Like Boucher, he likely starts down the lineup, but perhaps UNB see something in his skillset that I don’t.

UPEI: Probably the slowest team as far as news goes in the AUS right now, the Panthers could have as many as three recruits lined up at the moment. Really pushing to get some news out on this team within the next two weeks.

Other Notes

  • The AUS schedule went public this week, which you can see here. This is an earlier start than the last couple years with the action getting underway on September 26th. Also worth noting, there will be no play-in game for the U Cup with only two AUS berths up for grabs.
  • Acadia’s Remy Giftopoulos is off to the pro ranks with the Herlev Eagles in Denmark where he joins Brock’s Clint Windsor.
  • Kris Kontos strikes a great deal with Gap in the premiere French hockey division out of StFX. Kontos joins a Gap team which placed third in the regular season last year. Gap already have U SPORTS alum Dan Gibb (Calgary), Adam Kambeitz (Calgary), Darcy Greenaway (Queen’s), and Sam Labreque (McGill) signed.
  • Speaking of France, Acadia’s Taylor Makin is off to Brest in France 2 for next year.

OUA East

Carleton: Carleton continue to build a nice recruit class with another major junior piece in Darian Skeoch in the picture. Originally rumoured to be staying out west with either Mount Royal or Calgary, Skeoch appears to be jumping out to Carleton where he brings his big frame and physical game to the Ravens. Right away, it’s obvious to see why coach Shaun Van Allen loves his game. Skeoch is very one-dimensional and also very dependable in that regard. Opponents aren’t going to like playing against him, and that seems to be what the identity for Carleton will be next year.

Concordia: Very minor addition to the Concordia camp with Gabriel Morin committed for ’18-19. Like many Jr. A recruits who come into the OUA with not-so-flashy numbers, he’s going to have to earn his way into the lineup.

Laurentian: Still nothing to confirm at the moment out of Laurentian, but expecting to confirm at least one recruit later this week.

McGill: Nothing to speak of right now, but close to confirming a couple rumours regarding the Redmen as early as Friday.

Nipissing: Still waiting for team confirmation on Erik Campbell, but both Zach Moody and Trevor Busch were announced over the last week. After adding both Brent Moran and Brett Hargrave from the local North Bay Battalion last year, it doesn’t appear the Lakers are getting any of North Bay’s overagers from this year.

Ottawa: The Gee-Gees have been flying under the radar pretty well lately. That probably means they’re up to something. In the meantime, Anthony Brodeur and the uOttawa golf team finished fourth at the Canadian University/College Championship in Chilliwack.

Queen’s: After a flurry of activity early on, the Gaels are quiet right now. Wouldn’t be shocked to see a couple more recruits added to the roster, but a lot of the heavy lifting for them is done.

RMC: Still really quiet on the RMC front and don’t expect to hear anything in the immediate future.

UOIT: The Ridgebacks introduced Brett Harasymuk as their newest addition, incoming from Nipawin of the SJHL. Harasymuk is fresh off a championship run in Saskatchewan. He’s coming in a winner, but the Ridgebacks really want him for his chippy attitude on the ice. The Ridgebacks continue to try and make themselves as hard as possible to play against, and Harasymuk certainly helps that. Likely won’t see big numbers from him, but his style of play easily fits with players like Loren Ulett, Josh Maguire, and Malik Johnson.

UQTR: Nothing out of UQTR to speak of.

OUA West

Brock: Lots to talk about with Brock this week regarding two players they’ve brought in, and another I suspect they do so. For starters, Ryan Burton comes to the Badgers via Union of the NCAA. Formerly a BCHLer, Burton didn’t play much, or score much, for Union in the last two years, but the Badgers have found good success with NCAA transfers before (ie. Mitch Nardi, Braden Pears, Chris Maniccia). They bring in another forward with Jason Smith from the Georgetown Raiders. Smith is a small player who played bottom six minutes for most of his OHL career with Mississauga and Barrie, but starred for Georgetown in the OJHL this year. He’s developed his defensive game enough from the OHL to be a two-way forward in the OUA, but I’d imagine Brock really want him to blossom offensively. Finally, the rumours of Logan Thompson being Brock’s #1 goalie next year continue to become more credible as the week goes on. At this point, I’d be shocked if it’s anybody but him.

Guelph: Along with a number of players who had their signing rights expire is Patrick Kudla with the Arizona Coyotes. Kudla was taken back in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, and despite strong showings at ‘Yotes camp, never inked an ELC. Kudla’s rookie season at Guelph didn’t quite live up to the initial hype. The Gryphons were a great regular season team this year, but their best defencemen were Josh McFadden and Mathieu Henderson. If anything, Kudla illustrates that not just anybody can walk into this league right away and dominate. He’s a wickedly talented player who still has a lot of potential to show us. With Shawn Camp at the helm and more ice time up for grabs next year, don’t give up on Kudla just yet.

Lakehead: Lakehead go back to the MJHL market to reel in Dexter Kuczek from the Winnipeg Blues. Kuczek is coming off the most dynamic season of his junior career, posting 92 points and taking home league MVP honours. Kuczek comes from the same league that Lakehead got Scott Gall from, and they’re hoping for a similar rate of production. He’s got solid size, and showed above average offensive instincts last year. He’ll need both those assets to carry over into the OUA to be effective again.

Laurier: Nothing much from Laurier this week, but working on confirming another Jr. A recruit for the Golden Hawks.

Ryerson: As the offseason hits the midway stage, the Ryerson Rams are bringing their recruit pursuit to an end (for the time being). This week it’s Jesse Barwell who comes into the Rams program. Previously a 2nd round pick of the Mississauga Steelheads, Barwell had loads of major junior potential, but never quite lived up to the draft stock. He got buried on an underperforming Steelheads team before being traded to Saginaw where he gave them two and a half years of solid service. His last year in Caledonia was by far his best in junior, but on a Corvairs team which dominates most other Jr. B teams, the stats can get inflated with certain players. A good training camp will be key for Barwell who will either carry over his momentum from last year right away, or serve as a depth option for Ryerson down the stretch.

Toronto: All is quiet in the U of T camp this week.

Waterloo: Some more defencemen on the way to Waterloo, but for now we have Connor Lovie to talk about. Lovie has drawn fantastic reviews from the NOJHL where he spent four years with the Cochrane Crunch, three of them as captain. A two-time winner of the NOJHL’s best defenceman award, he’s the first winner to jump to the OUA since former Soo Thunderbird Corey Jackson landed at U of T. There was no assignment too big for Lovie who also saw his offensive numbers take a big jump last year. But he’s never seen anything like a top-end OUA offence in the NOJHL. This is going to be a big jump for Lovie, but one that he has all the tools to make successfully.

Western: With the Windsor Lancers out on Trent Fox, it appears that Western now seems to be in the mix. Still not getting anywhere past the rumour stage, but it really seems like Western could bring home a healthy haul of major junior recruits with Troy LajeunesseKenny Huether, and Alex DiCarlo all having their names connected.

Windsor: Windsor has announced their recruit class exceptionally early this year, but here’s a look at five of the players I haven’t mentioned before in TMS.

Lasse Petersen: Like I mentioned on Twitter, Petersen will be the first Danish national to play U SPORTS hockey. He also brings a unique blend of national experience at the U-20 WJC with Denmark and WHL experience with a collection of teams. Petersen has literally travelled the world to play hockey with stops in Herning (Denmark), Swan Valley (Manitoba), Calgary (Alberta), Spokane (Washington), and now Windsor just to name a few. Petersen’s WHL career was a roller coaster of ups and downs while being dealt around the league between four organizations. Tough to get your footing in that situation. No-trade clauses need not apply for OUA hockey.

John WesleyWesley bounced around for a portion of his junior career between the WHL and the BCHL, but he found a proper home for the last two full seasons. Now he’s making a big jump cross-country to Windsor. A White Rock, B.C. native, Wesley has been playing former B.C.-based teams basically his whole junior career, so this is a big changeup. Hockeywise, Wesley was a depth guy for his WHL days, but became a finisher with Surrey in the BCHL. Incoming to Windsor as a second-team all-star, he’s going to be given a shot right away to produce offensively for the Lancers.

Brett MennearSticking with the British Columbia theme, the Lancers take a long-time West Kelowna Warrior and former Prince George Spruce King in Mennear. Having just spent a year at Bentley in the NCAA where he didn’t see much ice, the Lancers are hoping they get the 79 point powerhouse that Mennear was for Prince George in ’16-17. It’s difficult to project players who haven’t seen consistent ice-time in a long time, but Windsor hopes they’ve got another diamond in the rough.

Connor LoganAnother transfer from the United States, Logan comes to Windsor by way of SUNY-Plattsburgh in NCAA III. Logan has a complete year in the BCHL and another in the SJHL, but there isn’t much on his hockey resume to speak of. Without having seen him and not having much statistically to work with, I can’t say much about him. But I can say that Windsor isn’t just throwing darts at roster sheets. Every recruit has a purpose, and we’ll find out soon enough what Logan’s is.

Ethan SkinnerIt wouldn’t be a Windsor Lancers recruit class without some talent out of the Jr. B ranks. Skinner is that guy this year after he comes to Windsor on the heels of a 61 point season. As good as this year wasn’t, it wasn’t as big as his ’16-17 campaign where he posted 80 points and another 34 in the playoffs to help Elmira to a GOJHL title, taking down the mighty Caledonia Corvairs. He’s been the heartbeat and identity of Elmira for the last two years, and you’d have a hard time finding a better recruit out of Jr. B than this guy.

The Lancers have also added Chays Ruddy and Coy Prevost who I’ve already covered in previous articles. Overall, another gritty and gutty Lancer recruit class. Not staggeringly skilled, but the Lancers more often than not squeeze out all the offensive potential they can out of players you wouldn’t always expect to see it from.

York: If you’re in the mood for some ECHL hockey these days, the Kelly Cup Finals are on to game six on Wednesday. The Florida Everblades lead the Colorado Eagles 3-2 in the series, and right in the middle of it is Derek Sheppard. Since being eliminated from the OUA playoffs, Sheppard has played 25 games with Florida, which is basically the equivalent of an OUA season. In the playoffs, Sheppard hasn’t done much offensively, but his 43 penalty minutes remind us he’s the same guy we saw at York. Sheppard is joined by U SPORTS alum Stephen MacAulay (SMU), Michael Kirkpatrick (StFX), Nelson Armstrong (UPEI), and Kyle Neuber (Guelph). That’s just enough for a really good line of university alum.

Other Notes

  • Waterloo lose a long-time goalie and favourite from around campus in Mike Morrison to the pro ranks with Manglerud in Norway. Morrison played the full five years at Waterloo and had some great seasons, especially early on in his OUA career.
  • The OUA schedule has been polished up and released to the public here. It appears the Frosty Mug is slated for January 24th between Laurier and Guelph at Sleeman Centre, and the Carr-Harris Cup goes February 7th at the K-Rock Centre.

Canada West

Alberta: I reported on this a few weeks back, but as time wears on the rumour continues to become more and more credible. If Curtis Miske plays university hockey, it’s going to be with Alberta. He just had a dynamite year with Prince Albert, and it’s not a stretch to see him factor into the Golden Bears lineup right away. Having said that, a realistic first year projection for him might be a role close to what Taylor Cooper has unless more ice-time becomes available.

UBC: Popular word on the street this week is UBC eventually gets a commitment from Tri-City Americans goaltender Patrick Dea. But it’s definitely not a done deal yet. The T-Birds are in the goalie market without Matt Hewitt returning. Dea certainly fits the void, and provides a great tandem option along with Rylan Toth. Stand by for confirmation on this sooner than later.

Other Notes

  • Can confirm Everett Silvertips D-Man Kevin Davis has signed an AHL deal, although not sure with who. Certainly sounds as though Regina’s Matt Bradley will sign in the AHL too.
  • Heard last week that Mason McCarty will go to either the AUS or OUA to play university hockey. McCarty just put up 74 points with the Red Deer Rebels.

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