Moncton: The Aigles Bleus are really thrilled with what they’re seeing out of their recruits thus far. I was told by someone within the program that they really believe Étienne Montpetit has what it takes to be the best goalie in the AUS. Before we get too carried away, it’s important to remember that Chase Marchand isn’t going anywhere. But comparisons aside, Moncton should be thrilled by the thought of having a goalie they can feel confident in making mistakes in front of. Yes, Montpetit stops a lot of pucks, but the psychological effect can be felt throughout the lineup. Moncton’s overall class looks pretty good, even without Tobie Paquette-Bisson. They’ve got a program changing goaltender, a lethal offensive threat in Max St-Cyr, and a great two-way piece to build your defence around in Vincent Lanoue. Moving forward, those three players will factor big-time into Moncton’s success.
UNB: Finally, UNB’s roster is set and ready to go for the new season. As always, their recruit class is among the very best in the country, and the cherry on top is Noah Carroll who finally commits after some deliberation. Obviously he adds a level of depth to UNB’s blueline which has to be in the conversation for best in the country. Although Alberta, StFX, and McGill would all have something to say about that. The biggest difference for UNB will be up front with five new forwards in the equation. Even then, the Reds didn’t have a single fifth year eligible player in their top 10 for team scoring in ’17-18. UNB was a juggernaut last year, and it’s difficult to look at their roster and say they’re not better on paper. But the one noticeable absence might be Trey Lewis and Mike Thomas. Few players come as tough and as physical as those two, and among UNB’s recruits, none of them have a similar reputation. But that absence may not matter all that much if UNB averages 4+ goals per game.
UPEI: The UPEI Panthers are ready for the regular season with a complete recruit class which features a trio of OHLers. Troy Lajeunesse had been committed for a few months, but he’s joined by OHL teammates Doug Blaisdell from Sudbury and Owen Headrick from Erie. On a UPEI D that lost Ryan MacKinnon to pro, getting two OHL pieces is going to go a long way in filling that gap. You get ‘Mr. Reliable’ as a former coach of Blaisdell described him last week. He’s undergone some injury trouble in the past, but his game has never changed. Blaisdell is as steady as they come, and is one of the best defensive defencemen coming into U SPORTS this season. With Headrick, you’re getting a more versatile game in all three zones. Headrick has a couple years of NCAA under his belt, which will cost him some eligibility. But chances are it’s not going to take long for him to feel comfortable in the AUS. After making the jump to Erie, he quickly settled into a lineup which went all the way to the Memorial Cup final. But last season was perhaps the best in Headrick’s career, posting 46 points and garnering pro looks from NHL teams. If he picks up where he left off, the sky is the limit in this league for him.
Overall, UPEI have a decent recruit class, but is it enough to take them to the next level in the AUS? Defensively, they might actually be better, even without MacKinnon. Offensively, it’s tough to move on from Marcus Power, but Lajeunesse might have enough fire power to negate that absence. The big question is goaltending. Are the Panthers going to be more consistent in net with Simon Hofley? That’s a big ‘what if’ for somebody who has played just nine games in two seasons. Maybe this is the year Matt Mancina figures things out and becomes the goalie many believe he has the potential to be. Whatever the case, the Panthers need timely goaltending for them to have a shot.
- Minor last minute addition for the Moncton Aigles Bleus. They add Samuel Castonguay out of the CRL where he played with the St-Quentin Castors. He serves as a roster filler right now.
- In speaking with three coaches from the AUS, it sounds like the conference will not be sending representation to the 2019 FISU Games, which conflict with the AUS playoffs. There’s nothing official on this yet, and some coaches tell me they have no idea what’s going on. But the popular consensus is that sending an AUS all-star team to Russia during the playoffs would destroy the integrity of the conference.