Photo: UOIT Ridgebacks

AUS

Acadia: The search for players to fill out Acadia’s roster continues to rage on for the Nova Scotian school, with the latest rumour involving Saint John Sea Dogs product Cole Reginato. From the sounds of it, we don’t have a done deal here yet, but there’s a strong chance that happens soon. Reginato was passed up in the QMJHL Entry Draft, but has carved out a nice major junior career for himself the last two years in Saint John. One of your prototypical ‘glue guys’ he doesn’t pack a massive offensive punch, but doesn’t need to in order to crack the Axemen lineup. If there’s anything that’s been made clear this offseason at Acadia, it’s that they’re looking for more out of their recruits past the numbers. Reginato fits that bill, but I’d anticipate that at some point we do see the Axemen land a big numbers guy from major junior.

Dalhousie: Campbell Pickard is officially the newest Dalhousie Tiger. Another product of the Jr. A level, Pickard posted an impressive 69 points in 50 games with Truro this year in what was his best offensive season. The question here is whether or not he can translate those numbers to the AUS. Typically, that’s a difficult task for MJAHL players to do. In the past, guys like Fabian Walsh and Andrew Wigginton have found their offensive stride out of Tier 1. The Tigers are hoping for a similar projection with Pickard in the years to come.

Moncton: Losing out on Tobie Paquette-Bisson is a demoralizing blow for the Aigles Bleus. Playing the best hockey of his career, Paquette-Bisson was magnified by a deep playoff run with Blainville-Boisbriand, and the scouts have taken notice. But as the saying goes, there’s plenty of fish in the sea. But not all of them are french. The reality for Moncton is they have a limited pool of players to choose from as it’s not like they’re reeling in talent from the WHL like Acadia or UNB. But there’s still some real solid QMJHL names out there such as Mathieu Nadeau and Matthew Boucher. Nothing between them and the Aigles Bleus seems imminent, but the fact that Moncton has been ‘in’ on a lot of the top francophone talent is a very encouraging sign.

Saint Mary’s: Nothing out of Saint Mary’s this week, and don’t anticipate anything to come for at least a few more weeks.

StFX: The chances of Bailey Webster landing with StFX seem to have increased a lot more over the last two weeks based on the buzz around the AUS. At this point, Webster is practically a lock for StFX if he plays university hockey, but the idea of pro certainly shouldn’t be taken off the table. Just like we saw with Paquette-Bisson and Moncton this week, if the right offer comes at the right time, things can change very quickly. That tells you a little something already about just how good Webster is. He’s a vastly different player than Santino Centorame, but the impact he can have on the StFX blueline might resonate just the same. A shutdown defender, Webster’s biggest attributes will come in the finer areas of the game and taking away chances rather than creating.

UNB: Nothing new on the UNB rumour front this week. But if you’re a Varsity Reds fan paying attention to a few prospective recruits, Noah Carroll is playing some pretty solid defence for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL Finals. It’s still apparent he’s behind Jordan Sambrook and Connor Timmins in terms of talent-level, but his impact of the game is right there with everybody else on the Greyhounds blueline. With Hamilton up 2-1 in the series, Carroll and the Hounds have their work cut out for them this week.

UPEI: The UPEI Panthers continue to do a great job of flying under the radar. There’s an interesting rumour out there attaching them with Kitchener Rangers standout overage goalie Mario Culina, but there’s not a ton of traction to it at the moment. One thing we know for sure is that UPEI are actively searching for a goaltender.

Other Notes

  • Former UNB Varsity Red Francis Beauvillier and the Manitoba Moose find themselves in a hole to the Rockford Icehogs in the second round of the AHL playoffs, down 2-0. But if there’s any good news in this, it’s that Beauvillier has found himself in all seven playoff games, as has another ex-V-Red and MRU Cougar, Cam Maclise.

OUA East

Carleton: Biggest news to come from Carleton in the last two weeks is the addition of Jake Smith. Smith has an interesting career path that brought him to Carleton, starting out playing minor hockey in the Greater Toronto Area before moving out to Germany for a season, kicking around in the QMJHL for two years, then landing as a Spitfire in the OHL. Now he comes to Carleton after an OA season that was about on par with the numbers he put up in his final QMJHL season. Smith doesn’t jump off the paper as an offensive superstar, but neither did Jared Steege. Steege went on to be one of the country’s hottest goal-scorers for a chunk of the season. Steege is going to be relied upon to score again this season, but without Welychka and Van Stralen, the Ravens will be looking for some more players to step in offensively. Perhaps Smith is one of those guys.

Concordia: The Stingers went out and confirmed a trio of recruits in Bradley LalondeCharlie Roy, and Brendan Hamelin. All pretty good players in their own right, but the one that really intrigues me is Phelix Martineau. There’s an LOI in place with him and Concordia, but the Stingers have yet to make this one team-official which might have something to do with a possible pro offer. However, if Martineau does indeed go the U SPORTS route (which it appears he will), it’s going to be with Concordia. Martineau just spent his overage season in Cape Breton, serving as captain of the Screaming Eagles and after the Drake Batherson trade, was clearly the best player on the team. He’s a player that can make a big impact right away, and has a similar toolset to another former Screaming Eagle now on Concordia, Massimo Carozza. Still early, it’s already looking like the Stingers are going to be top three contenders in the OUA East again this year.

Laurentian: This week the Voyageurs fortified their netminder situation with the addition of Brayden Lachance to join fellow Rayside-Balfour alum MacKenzie Savard. Savard really served as a saviour of sorts for Laurentian after joining them in January and backstopping the net en route to a surprise playoff appearance. He’ll be given a shot to do that again this year, but Lachance will by vying for key starts as well. Lachance was a good goalie on an awful Aurora Tigers team a few years ago and just led the NOJHL playoffs in SV% this year at .941%. He’s got the size, and from all accounts, the right attitude coming into the OUA to be a real diamond in the rough out of the Jr. A ranks. He might not be the number one guy right away, but Lachance will undoubtedly get his chance to steal the show.

McGill: Overall a real quiet month of April for the Redmen. Nothing official yet, but I believe they’re in on a few QMJHLers, a couple WHLers, and have been close to landing at least two different OHL players. As per usual, McGill going cross-country to get their talent.

Nipissing: First signs of life out of Nipissing this offseason with the addition of Trevor Bush. A player with experience at both the forward and defensive positions, Bush is a Guelph Ont. native who has played in Drummondville, La Ronge, Campbellton, and now North Bay in his career. A well-travelled recruit, Bush is the type of player who’s going to need a healthy shot in training camp and preseason to comfortably fit into the lineup. A lot also depends on who else the Lakers take a run at this summer.

Ottawa: I guess the Gee-Gees were busy with the Kentucky Derby. Nothing new to report out of uOttawa.

Queen’s: Two more confirmations from the Queen’s Gaels with Jared Bethune and Stephen Gibson locked in as recruits. Bethune has some pretty solid numbers from his WHL days in Prince George, but the Gaels genuinely believe there’s still a lot of untapped potential in his game. Gibson was a bit of a surprise being a Kitchener native and given Waterloo’s glaring need for D-men like him. But the Gaels add yet another major junior defenceman to a blueline which can do just about anything you’d want it to. Versatility is the name of the game for Queen’s, and they add another very defensively stable element to their team with Gibson. The Gaels have more to come down the pipe with another major junior recruit set to go public this week.

RMC: Not exactly news, but Maclean’s named the Carr-Harris Cup the best campus event at RMC. For the amount of fans in attendance, I still can’t believe how loud the Paladins student section was at the K-Rock Centre. Confirmed: RMC students know how to have a good time.

UOIT: Big move for the Ridgebacks on Monday with the official announcement of Michael Bullion as the program’s newest recruit. Hard to imagine Brendan O’Neill not being the incumbent starter, but Bullion is a talented goalie with potential to be better at the U SPORTS level than he was in the WHL. Bullion’s overage season wasn’t the strongest of his junior career, but he’s had some very strong stretches in the past. It’s possible the university environment and schedule will end up lending itself a little better to the way Bullion plays. The Ridgebacks also wind up with J.C. Thivierge, a sturdy defenceman out of the AJHL. Not much jumps off the paper immediately with him, but the Ridgebacks have a knack for finding some strong D-Men from Jr. A with similar backgrounds to Thivierge.

UQTR: Still nothing new from the Patriotes.

Other Notes

  • A bunch of UQTR Patriotes made the news last week with big wins over in Europe. Pierre-Olivier Morin and Martin Lefebvre win a Danish championship with the Aalborg Pirates accompanied by former Concordia Stinger Olivier Hinse. After a fairly mundane regular season, Morin broke out to produce at a point-per-game clip in the playoffs. Both Lefebvre and Hinse were key pieces for Aalborg all year long. Elsewhere Guillaume Asselin wins a championship in Slovakia with HC Banska Bystrica. That team also featured former Guelph Gryphon Nick Trecapelli and Moncton Aigles Bleus standout Éric Faille.

OUA West

Brock: The Badgers can cross a few more names off the list of potential recruits with Surrey Eagles teammates Matthew Campese and Mario Cavaliere set to head to St. Catharines. Tough to tell right now if Campese projects as a depth player for Brock, or if he’s going to bring some offensive production to the table like he did in his overage year in the BCHL. He’s a player we’re going to have to keep an eye on in the preseason to get an idea of what he’s really capable of in the OUA. His teammate Cavaliere comes to Brock with some raving reviews from his former junior teams. Cavaliere was among the best goalies in the OJHL with Burlington and Georgetown before heading out west to Surrey for the last half of 2017-18. His numbers in Surrey aren’t unbelievable, but there’s still a lot of coaches and scouts who think Cavaliere is one of the top five best Jr. A goalies not going the NCAA route.

Guelph: Apart from Marc Stevens getting the invite to LA Kings camp in the summer, nothing new out of the Gryphons program.

Lakehead: Not much brewing up north in Thunder Bay right now.

Laurier: No more news out of Laurier for the time being, but they’re certainly not done recruiting for 2018-19.

Ryerson: Standing strong at eight recruits for the upcoming season, the Rams aren’t anywhere near done yet. There’s going to be some news later on this week from the program, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least four more additions to the team on top of the eight they already have.

TorontoNathan Hudgin is the newest addition to the Varsity Blues who makes the jump to the OUA nearly two years after he was first announced as a recruit. Opting to go for a run at the QMJHL, Hudgin finished really strong with the Val-d’Or Foreurs after stalling out a little offensively at the start of the year in Drummondville. A local kid from Scarborough and a product of the Stouffville Spirit, he really fits the typical U of T player type. He doesn’t have the offensive toolkit of Mathew Campagna, but from watching a number of his games, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him put up numbers similar to Aidan Wallace at some point in his OUA career.

Waterloo: Nick Chyzowski is a name that got tossed around in the last TMS between York and UBC. This week the Waterloo Warriors have entered the conversation as being a suitor for his services. A team still in dire need of offensive production, he’d be a really nice boost to Waterloo’s top six if he winds up playing in Columbia Ice Fields. Apart from Chyzowski, the Warriors appear to be in conversation with a collection of major junior players, especially some notable defensive defencemen. Evan Fiala continues to be a name connected with the Warriors, but nothing seems close to a done deal with either of these players just yet.

Western: On top of some juicy rumours connecting the ‘Stangs with some real solid OHL talent, Justin Fazio entered the picture last week. Western was really happy with the way Luke Peressini finished last year, but after the early season goalie fiasco you can understand why Clarke Singer wants insurance in net. In any event, it seems like the Mustangs are seriously in on OHL and WHL talent this year. That’s an encouraging sign from a team that was rumoured to be struggling on the recruit market back in 2016.

Windsor: The Lancers are set to introduce Chays Ruddy from the Prince George Spruce Kings into the lineup. A durable defender from the BCHL, most folks in Ontario know Ruddy as being a key part of Trenton’s OJHL dominance in 2016 and 2017. Ruddy rarely provides an offensive spark, but he’s a tough defenceman who appears to relish the opportunity to play a physical game. That’s the type of player that will fit the Windsor Lancers’ style of play like a glove. Still more to come from Windsor, but the addition of Ruddy shows that the Lancers want to continue to build a team around physicality and toughness.

York: Nothing more newsworthy from the York Lions this week.

Canada West

Alberta: The biggest news to come out of the U SPORTS coaching circle this offseason has been the return of Ian Herbers to the Alberta Golden Bears bench for 2018-19. Not exactly a surprise to some, it’s still a massive shakeup from a program that just put together a nearly flawless season. Given, Herbers isn’t any stranger to those kind of years, having served as head coach of Alberta from 2012-2015. On the flip-side, you’ve got Serge Lajoie. He’s won a national title as a player, an assistant coach, and finally got the job done as a head coach this year. It’s a tough break for Lajoie who hasn’t done anything wrong, but is simply a victim of circumstance. Lajoie intends to continue his coaching career outside Alberta, and has shown interest in vacant positions with the Saskatoon Blades and Red Deer Rebels. As for the players, they’re generally sad to see Lajoie let go. That’s understandable considering the success they’ve enjoyed with him. However, there’s already a sense of respect for the new-old bench boss in Herbers. Any players who return for a fifth year at Alberta will have played under Herbers as rookies back in ’14-15.

 

Everyone Else: The Canada West offseason is moving painfully slowly right now. Some WHL players are getting taken off the market at the hands of OUA/AUS programs, but there’s yet to be a big move made by a Canada West school apart from the Manitoba Bisons having a verbal commitment from Tyler Brown. I’ve asked a bunch of coaches and recruiters from across the country in a bunch of different regions why the WHLers are so slow to commit. The answers I get are somewhere along the lines of “WHL players hold out longer for pro contracts than any other league”. Why is this? Nobody really seems to have the answer to that. But part of it has to do with the way Canada West programs recruit. Canada West schools rarely take players east of Manitoba, and there isn’t exactly a push to get names out in the public sphere like there is in the OUA and AUS. Most programs in Canada West prefer the bulk recruit announcements, ensuring they have everyone they want to commit on paper before going public. But those don’t often come out until late August, and even when they do, things can still change. Until then, if anything becomes official, you can find it all right here.

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