Morand leads 2015 Acadie-Bathurst Titan draft class


In what some are calling a surprise move, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan used their second overall pick in the 2015 QMJHL Draft to select Chateauguay Grenediers forward Antoine Morand. Prior to under-ager Joseph Veleno receiving exceptional status to enter the draft a year before he would originally be eligible, Morand was pegged to go second overall. With Veleno’s inclusion, all the smart money would now put original consensus number one pick Maxime Comtois in the camp of the Titan.

That would not be the case as the Titan would stick to their original game plan and choose the left-handed centre who was listed as being five-foot-nine and weighing 157 pounds, but upon first-hand inspection, the five-foot-nine listing for the young man who put up 18 goals and 55 points in 41 regular season games, helping the Grenadiers win their second consecutive Jimmy Ferrari Cup in the Quebec Midget-AAA Hockey League is quite deceptive as Morand obviously put on well over an inch in height.

In speaking with Titan general manager Sylvain Couturier and head scout Andre Levesque, both were pleased they got the player they wanted. Morand will likely slot in on the second forward line to start the season, and already has an added advantage of being able to speak both his native French and English, both language of which are prevalent in the North Shore region of Bathurst.

The Titan wouldn’t select again until the third round where they originally had two picks. With the 41st overall selection, the Titan would take defenceman Jerome Gravel of the Jonquière Élites. Listed at six-feet tall and 170 pounds, Gravel only turns 16 on Aug. 27 and has plenty of growing to do. In 41 regular season games this past year, Gravel had four assists and 54 penalty minutes. Sylvain Couturier’s only trade of the day came next as the Titan traded the 43rd overall pick to the Val-d’Or Foreurs for a second-round pick in 2016, originally belonging to the Victoriaville Tigres.

In the fourth round, the Titan held the 59th overall pick and with it selected forward Kynan Berger of the Newbridge Academy Gladiators. Listed at six-foot-two and 172 pounds, the left-hander played 34 regular season games with the Gladiators scoring 12 goals and adding 24 assists. The Gladiators would go on to win the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League and later earn a berth in the 2015 Telus Cup.

The Titan’s second pick in the fourth round would be the 64th overall selection and would bring the Titan 15-year-old William Lemay-Champagne. Listed as a five-foot-nine, 157-pound forward, Lemay-Champagne joined the Séminaire St-François Blizzard, captained by 2014 third-round Titan draft pick Félix Boivin and in 39 games scored seven goals while adding 18 assists. Lemay-Champagne turns 16 later this month.

Moving into the fifth round, the Titan used the 89th overall pick to select 16-year-old forward Keegan Gauthier of the Halifax McDonald’s who play in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League. Listed at a healthy six-foot-one and tipping the scales at 201 pounds, Gauthier whose father hails from one of the surrounding communities outside of Bathurst played 33 games with the McDonald’s, scoring 11 goals and adding 10 assists. Of note, both he and fellow Titan draft pick Berger played Major Bantam together in 2013-14 before being assigned to opposing teams this past season in Major Midget. A reunion backstage at the draft for the pair proved to be quite an emotional moment for the former, and should both wind up cracking the Titan roster, possible future teammates.

The draft continued for the Titan into the sixth round when the 92nd pick in the proceedings would be used to select US-born defenceman Jake Ryczek. The 17-year-old blue-liner from Ludlow, Mass., played with the Sioux City Musketeers of the United States Hockey League where in 55 games the five-foot-ten Ryczek scored six goals and added 12 assists. He is currently committed to the University of New Hampshire for the 2016-17 season.

With the 126th overall pick in the seventh round of the draft, the Titan selected 17-year-old goaltender Tanner Somers of Miramichi, N.B. Playing for the Miramichi Rivermen of the N.B./P.E.I. Major Midget Hockey League, he went 10-14 in 24 games with a 4.06 goals against average and a .893 save percentage. His Junior-A rights are owned by the Miramichi Timberwolves who made him a territorial pick in the 2014 Maritime Jr. A League Draft.

The Titan wouldn’t pick again until the ninth round where they would use the 146th overall pick to choose Marc-Andre LeCouffe. The 15-year-old forward born in Bathurst, but raised in Tracadie, N.B., has spent the past number of years in the CIHA Voyageurs hockey program where he spent most of the 2014-15 season in their Minor Midget program. Listed as a six-foot, 173 pound left-handed centre, LeCouffe played 29 regular season games at the Minor Midget level scoring eight goals and adding another eight assists.

The Titan would stay within the province of New Brunswick for their first selection of the tenth round, using the 169th overall pick to select Justin Guitard of Richibucto, N.B. Listed at five-foot-ten and 185 pounds, the defenceman suited up for the Miramichi Rivermen where he had two goals and six assists in 32 regular season games.

In addition to the 169th pick, the Titan also held the 177th overall pick in the tenth round. With it they selected their second goaltender in the draft, as well as a second player affiliated with the Séminaire St-Francois Blizzard Vincent Duplessis. Listed at five-foot-11 and 145 pounds, the 16-year-old goaltender saw limited action with the Blizzard, playing just two –preseason games and two games in the 2015 Dodge Cup posting a 1-1 record over the four games.

The 12th round would see the Titan make their next pick, and with the 216th overall selection in the 2015 QMJHL Draft, they selected 1998-born, 16-year-old forward Aaron Brisebois of Gatineau, Que. Only due to turn 17 in late-September, the five-foot-11, 181-pound Brisebois played with the Gatineau Intrépid where in 42 games he scored five goals and added 17 assists to go with 44 penalty minutes.

The 218th overall pick in the 13th round saw the Titan return their gaze to New Brunswick for a third time, selecting Rexton, N.B.’s Creighton Sanipass. Listed at six-foot-two and 183 pounds, the 17-year-old forward suited up for 35 regular season games with the Miramichi Rivermen where he scored eight goals and added eight assists.

The final pick by the Titan in the 14th round saw them select with the 236th pick 16-year-old American-born defenceman Patrick Dawson. Listed at five-foot-11 and weighing 181 pounds, the native of Medway, Mass. Played 24 games for Westminister Prep. of the USHS last season and registered six assists. He was also drafted in the ninth-round by the Bloomington Thunder of the United States Hockey League in this year’s Futures Draft.

In total, the Titan selected 13 players in the 2015 QMJHL Entry Draft. How many will break camp at the end of August remains to be seen, however the Titan look to be in a much better place heading into the upcoming 2015-16 season.