The MHL Eastlink North Division Season Preview
The Maritime Hockey League is set to kick off their regular season tonight, and this should be a memorable season as it is the 50th anniversary.
Here is a look at the Eastlink North Division preview, with some Q prospects that you might see in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as early as this season.
Summerside Western Capitals:
The Capitals are coming off a regular season division title and have graduated nine players. There is a youth movement right now in Summerside, and a few players to keep an eye out for are the following:
C- Brodie MacArthur
MacArthur is the reigning NB/PEI Major Midget League scoring champion and was taken in the 2015 Q draft in the 13th round 234th overall to the Moncton Wildcats. MacArthur has a high hockey IQ, and is a great playmaker. He played in a pair of games for the Wildcats last season, and a year in Summerside could be the best thing for the Summerside native.
C/LW- Marc-Andre LeCouffe,
LeCouffe is another skilled forward, who can put the puck in the net. He is listed at 6’2, and after a strong season last year with CIHA, he will fit nicely in Summerside. LeCouffe was taken in the 9th round of the 2015 draft, and could be a player you’ll see in a Titan jersey next season.
C/LW- Casey Fox
Fox had a great pre-season with the Capitals, putting up three goals and one assist in the three exhibition games he saw action in. Fox is a late bloomer born in 1998, and is property of the Moncton Wildcats. Fox had a good final year of midget playing for the Fredericton Canadiens putting up 19 goals and 11 assists in 33 games.
G- Matt Williams
One of the final cuts of the Saint John Seadogs this season, Williams made it tough to send him back for his 2nd year with the Capitals. He is still only 18 years old, and was named to the MHL All-Rookie team last year. Williams led the Capitals to a first place finish, and led the league in wins with 22, and a 3.17 G.A.A.
The Dieppe Commandos finished the league in 2nd place losing in the final to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers. They graduated a lot of players, and young players who choose to play in Dieppe, can move onto the QMJHL before to long. Mika Cyr, and Alexandre Bernier for example. Here is some players hoping to do the same.
D- Tristan Mercure
Mercure is a smaller defensemen that has great speed. Mercure, attended the Hub City Showcase with the Moncton Wildcats. Mercure will be playing close to the Wildcats, who will get a chance to see him regularly. With potential injuries, suspensions etc. He may get his chance to play in a Wildcat uniform sometime this season.
F- Logan Johnston
Johnston suited up for the Sherbrooke Phoenix last season; he put up four assists with only four penalty minutes. The big forward, looked good in the exhibition season, and could be hoping to have a great start with Dieppe, and try and get back to the QMJHL sometime this season.
The Campbellton Tigers will have a new Head Coach this season in Greg Leland. He is taking over a good program in Campbellton, however the loss of Gregor MacLeod to the Charlottetown Islanders and William Basque to the Gatineau Olympiques, may end up being a tough first year in Campbellton. They do have a strong back end with some promising talent such as:
D- Francis Thibeault
The 6’1 defensemen is on his way to the Tigers after spending last season with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Thibeault put up three points in 49 games. Starting the season in Campbellton should allow him to play some good minutes, and will get lots of skating playing on the big ice. A strong start to the season, could land him back in the Q before to long.
D- Pierre-Luc Lurette
Lurette is another big defensemen at 6’2. He came into the Maritime Hockey League at 16 years old. He played in four games last season in the QMJHL, first suiting up for the Saint John Seadogs, before being traded away to the Quebec Remparts. If Lurette can have a good start to the season, he may get to see some time with the Remparts again.
St. Stephen Aces
The Aces are in their third season in the MHL. The Aces are hoping to improve from last year and make the playoffs for the first time. They were busy in the off season, and had the luxury of picking 1st and 3rd overall in this years draft. The future is bright for the Aces, and hopefully a few of these young players can have good seasons.
D- Matthew O’Leary
O’Leary was the first overall pick of the 2016 MHL draft this past Summer, and is expected to play a big role in the young St. Stephen Aces. O’Leary is property of the Saint John Seadogs, where he was selected in the 12th round in 2015. The Seadogs will not have to drive far to see him play, and could result in some time in the Q.
F- Ben Reid
Reid, also property of the Saint John Seadogs, is looking to build off a great campaign with the Telus Cup Silver Medalists, Saint John Vitos. The 17-year-old forward, suited up for four games with the Seadogs last season, and will start this year with the Aces. Reid is looking to put up some good numbers, and hopefully crack the Seadogs roster next season.
D- Evan White
White, another Newfoundland defensemen, is getting set for his first year with the Aces. White was taken 3rd overall in 2016 MHL draft and was drafted by Drummondville in the 7th round of the 2015 QMJHL draft. White suited up for Rothesay this past season, and was traded in the pre-season to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. Just like his teammate O’Leary, a year in Junior A should help their development quite nicely.
The Slammers are also in a rebuild this season after making a strong push last season and hosting the Fred Page Cup. Look for the Slammers to be a younger team and hopefully they can make a playoff push.
G- Jack Grant
Grant has an excellent opportunity to lead the younger Woodstock Slammers this season. At only 17 years old, he will need to have a great season for the Slammers to have success, as their other goalie Benjamin Patt is out until Christmas with an injury. Grant was selected by the Moncton Wildcats in the 5th round of the 2015 draft, and a big year this year could see him wear the Wildcat jersey next season.
D- Ian Smallwood
Smallwood is coming off a Telus Cup Silver Medal last year, and got to play in 11 games with the Seadogs last season. With a deep blue line that the Seadogs have, it was tough for Smallwood to crack that lineup, and he will get to play some big minutes in Woodstock. I would expect to see Smallwood get a few games as an AP this season with the Seadogs.
D- Denis Toner
Toner stepped into the Slammers line up last season at only 16 years old and quarterbacked their powerplay. That says a lot about the type of player Toner is. The only downside to his game, would be his size at 5’8. He is property of the Halifax Mooseheads, and they are in a youth movement. A strong first half of the season, could get him into a Moosehead jersey if they move some of their older players later in the season.
The Timberwolves are entering this season as the early favourites to win the Eastlink North Division. They have loaded up on veteran players, and are going to make a run for it. They do have some young promising prospects to look out for.
D- Justin Guitard
Guitard got to see 10 games of action last season in a Timberwolves uniform at only 16 years old. He has solidified himself on the back end for Miramichi. He is property of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and he will be a player to watch this season.
F- Keegan Gauthier
Gauthier had a bit of a step back last season with the Halifax Macs of the NSMMHL. He went from 21 points as a rookie to 6 points last season. He is a big kid listed at 6’1 and is property of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He was drafted in the 5th round in 2015, and I am sure the Titan would love to see Gauthier have a solid year with the Timberwolves.
Overall, the Eastlink North Division has some great young talent this season. With the season set to go tonight, keep an eye on some of these players mentioned, as well as a few dark horses that could surprise us all.