Dalhousie: The Reilly Pickard to Dal rumours are still out there, but the Tigers have opted to add another goalie in Kevin Resop for ’18-19. That doesn’t mean Pickard is out of the question, but it diminishes the chances for the time being. Resop is a pretty good goalie in his own right who just had a fantastic season with the Truro Bearcats. He’s previously occupied the blue paint for the Halifax Mooseheads and knows the Maritimes well despite hailing from St. Petersburg, Florida. Even without Corbin Boes, Dalhousie is still looking pretty good in net, and it shouldn’t be a surprise to see either Resop or Connor Hicks take the starting job and run with it.
SMU: Confirmed with Saint Mary’s this week that Jacob Friend has reported to training camp and is expected to play for the Huskies in ’18-19. This is big for SMU’s defence who look fantastic through the top four. They’ve got a little bit of everything, and now get one of the most feared body checkers from the OHL. Friend won’t get bullied around this year, and that could make for some explosive games against their rivals from the power four programs.
Saint Mary’s is done recruiting, so what you see on paper is what you’ll get with the Huskies roster. They’ve got a ton of offensive depth, pretty good goaltending, and the most balanced d-corps they’ve had in years. If Eric Brassard has a big year, the Huskies have all the tools necessary to break into the AUS top two. Whether or not those tools work for the whole year will determine if they do or not.
UNB: With the offseason drawing to a close, there’s not much time left for Noah Carroll to make a decision. But for the sake of being hypothetical, let’s pretend he goes pro. That leaves UNB with six defencemen. That’s a number you can work with, but should injuries or suspensions become a factor, Gardiner MacDougall will need to get creative. If that’s the case, James McEwan might be a name you see slide back. McEwen was primarily a forward with the Guelph Storm, but he’s played some defence in the past. There’s also Matt Boudens who is UNB’s super utility guy and has done everything but coach the team in four years. If things stay the way they are, there’s going to be lots of ice-time up for grabs at UNB, and that’s something MacDougall has used to great advantage in developing his players.
UPEI: The UPEI Panthers have their goaltending situation figured out for ’18-19 with Simon Hofley coming over from Canisius in the NCAA. Forbes MacPherson has had to deal with a lot of inconsistency in the crease the last couple seasons, so he’s hoping Hofley can help stabilize that. Hofley had a short, but very effective junior career in the SJHL with the Flin Flon Bombers before committing to Canisius. At Canisius, Hofley quickly took the reigns as the starting goalie in ’15-16 posting a nice .920 SV%. But since then, Hofley lost the starting job and never got it back in two years, so here he is with UPEI. His stay will be short, with a max of two years of eligibility left, but he’ll be ready to go right away.
Laurentian: The Laurentian Voyageurs have ensured that no offers from CN Rail can deplete their goaltending depth this season with Michael Giugovaz joining the program for ’18-19. Last spotted with the UPEI Panthers, Giugovaz has been all over the map for a variety of reasons in the last three years or so. Now he resurfaces in Sudbury looking for a fresh start with a new team that will give just about anybody a chance. Giugovaz brings some major junior games the Voyageurs lost in net with Joel Vienneau moving on, but still have a great looking Jr. A piece in Brayden Lachance and MacKenzie Savard who basically saved their season in second semester. Being a goaltender at Laurentian can be a very taxing job, so spreading out the playing time might be in everyone’s best interest. We know for sure that Laurentian now have that option this season.
McGill: The McGill Redmen have essentially rounded out their recruit class with the addition of Brendan O’Reilly from the Saint John Sea Dogs for ’18-19. O’Reilly was a long time WHLer with the Tri-City Americans before beginning ’17-18 with the Chilliwack Chiefs in the BCHL. After a spot opened up in Saint John, O’Reilly jumped at the chance to play major junior again and finished the final 31 games of his junior career out east. Born in St. Louis, O’Reilly is now adding another destination to his already impressive list of postal codes with McGill in Montreal. O’Reilly is very much a defensively-minded player, not too dissimilar from what McGill loses in Francis-Lambert Lemay. This ensures McGill will have a super deep defence like last year, but how they can do without Nathan Chiarlitti is a question yet to be answered. But that answer might come quickly with a full season of Nikolas Brouillard on the horizon.
Queen’s: A last minute addition is on the way to help the Queen’s blueline for next season in Tyler Nother, formerly of the Windsor Spitfires. This is somewhat of a surprise given Nother was forced out of OHL after winning a Memorial Cup with concussions. However, it isn’t uncommon for players to resurface in U SPORTS after a year or two away from the game to nurse injuries. Nother could be a real decent boost to the Gaels defensively if he recovers his previous form. Queen’s had their blueline decimated by injuries last year, and getting Nevin Guy and Nathan Billitier in the mix this season will be a big help. But if things ever go awry again, Nother is a solid insurance policy.
- David Urquhart is moving on from McGill to join the San Diego Gulls. Urquhart joins Marty Johnston and Tony Cimellaro as coaches to move on from the OUA East to the AHL in the last two years.
- Currently in France, the UQTR Patriotes defeated Cergy 1-0, but lost to Amiens 3-2, and Angers 2-0.
Guelph: All of a sudden the Guelph Gryphons are in dire need of defencemen. They played with only seven last season, and will be close to that number again this year. In addition to Josh McFadden, and Mathieu Henderson, Patrick Kudla is now out the door as he joins Henderson in Slovakia. Guelph had high hopes that Henderson and Kudla would be the future of the Gryphons d-corps, but that’s not happening anymore. Now it’s back to the drawing board. Fortunately, Guelph have Jesse Saban who looks pretty good. Past him, Mark Raycroft and Reilly O’Connor are likely in for big minutes. But to truly say this Gryphons blueline is as good as or better than last year, they need a two-way threat who can change the balance of a game like McFadden or Henderson. Also worth noting, the two forwards that Guelph moved back to play the odd game on defence last year are also leaving in Scott Simmonds and Trevor Morbeck. Justin Stevens might have to get back out there at some point.
*Update: I’ve since been told Scott Simmonds has successfully enrolled for a masters at Guelph and will return.
Lakehead: It’s mighty late in the offseason, but the Lakehead Thunderwolves are finally in the rumour mill. One confirmed transaction has Chase Stewart coming over from the Rimouski Oceanic. Stewart spent some time in Saginaw, but found the spotlight to an extent with the Saint John Sea Dogs at the Memorial Cup in Windsor. Although undrafted, there was a time when Stewart was getting serious looks from NHL scouts. Getting a d-man with this kind of pedigree is a step in the right direction for Lakehead who haven’t been the same without Justin Sefton. A product of the Thunder Bay Kings, Stewart isn’t exactly an ‘outside the box’ recruit, but at least this shows Lakehead can still pull in a major junior body.
There’s another rumour out there that has Lakehead linked with Tomas Soustal of the Edmonton Oil Kings. A native of Sternberk, Czech Republic, Soustal apparently has great interest in university hockey. He spent a full four seasons in the WHL with Kelowna and Edmonton, and has intentions to stay in the country to play hockey. Being a European, there’s a few hurdles to jump in terms of eligibility, and Soustal may not be ready to go until January if he can’t complete the required courses in time. He’s yet to make a final decision, but the Thunderwolves are definitely a contendor for his services, as is McGill.
York: The York Lions are back in the news with a very cool initiative to honour Mark Cross and the Humboldt Broncos which will bring them out to Saskatchewan this September to play Regina, Calgary, and the Univ. of Saskatchewan in exhibition action. Here’s the official release for more details.
- There was a rumour out there that Matthew Timms might forgo his overage season to join the Laurier Golden Hawks. That won’t be happening, as Timms was just dealt to the London Knights where he’ll play his OA season. Don’t be surprised to see him land at Laurier for ’19-20.
- Staying in the rumour mill, there’s some rumblings about Brett McKenzie and Western. McKenzie has told schools he’s not even going to consider school until November while he gives pro a shot. Keep that info in your back pocket for a later day.
- After three years with Waterloo, defenceman Eric Cimino is moving on to play in Denmark with Gladsaxe. After rarely seeing the ice in his first two seasons, Cimino was the only Warriors defender to suit up for all 28 games a year ago.
Lethbridge: ICYMI, the entire Lethbridge Athletics department is in some hot water with how the women’s hockey situation is playing out involving head coach Michelle Janus and a collection of players now filing a lawsuit. Here’s the full story. On the men’s side, they’re still looking for a coach. The last info I received has Scott Beattie, Steve O’Rourke, Kevin Higo, and Murray Nystrom all in the running for the job. One source was also quick to note that Nystrom was a strong favourite over the other applicants. There has also been a rumour that some applicants had voluntarily dropped out of the running earlier in the search. In regard to Nystrom, he has by far the most university coaching experience over the other three candidates. While the others are all seasoned in their own right, none of them have what Nystrom does in terms of coaching experience at the national championship. Easy to imagine that would be a big point of interest for Lethbridge.
Manitoba: Yet another Jr. A addition for the Bisons is on the way with Carter Doerksen set to lace up his skates at Manitoba. A long-time member of the Nipawin Hawks, Doerksen is a tough, rugged defenceman who has been relied on for leadership and stay-at-home defence in the past. D-men generally take longer to develop in U SPORTS, so it may be some time before Doerksen gets to a level of shutting down some top assignments. For now, he’ll rest in Mike Sirant’s back pocket as a depth piece that can be deployed in a collection of situations.
Regina: The verdict is in, and the consensus from around the league is that Regina have done very well for themselves on the recruit market. Albeit, relative to the pieces that were out there. With so many WHLers opting for pro, getting three of them to commit is a nice haul for the Cougars. Conner Chaulk adds some offence to the picture, while both Brennan Riddle and James Hilsendager are valuable additions to the defence. Both have a similarly large stature, but Hilsendager stands out as the better of the two on paper having spent his last days in the WHL on strong defensive Kelowna teams. Now he’s reunited with goaltender Michael Herringer who needs to be better for Regina to contend. Among the Jr. A recruits, there’s some raw skill with guys like Tanner Campbell and Tyler Kreklewich. The big question is how long does it take for them to bring it over to U SPORTS. Overall, the Cougars need to find offence from this group to supplement Zak Zborosky. But given the pool they had to work with, they’ve done a better than average job recruiting.
- After two years in the WHL, the Calgary Hitmen have announced Drea Esposito is retiring from the WHL in favour of going to the University of Manitoba. No word on whether or not he’s going to play for the Bisons, but that appears doubtful right now.
- Still time for things to change, but at this point it appears Calgary’s Jakob Stukel is going pro.
- Manitoba are off and running in preseason action with their trip overseas to Britain. The Bisons beat Fife in the opener 2-1, lost to Belfast 6-1, then lost to Belfast again 5-4.