The Red Deer College Kings men’s hockey team has added three players to their roster with an eye to competing with the top teams in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference.
After getting beat by a more physical University of Alberta-Augusta Vikings team in the first round of the playoffs and watching the likes of NAIT and SAIT push around everyone this year, head coach Trevor Keeper has kept that in mind with his recruiting this spring.
This past week he has added Battleford North Stars defenceman Mike Statchuk, North Stars forward Nick Fountain and Kindersely Klippers defenceman Dylan Baer.
“Skating and speed is our No. 1 criteria … but going through the grind of playoffs and leading up to playoff with our schedule with what it was this year, some of our more skilled players playing physical were injured,” said Keeper. “We need a little more depth and to be harder to play against.”
Statchuk, 21, is very much in the same mold as current Kings blue-liner Blair Mulder, measuring in at five-foot-ll and 201 pounds. He played most of his junior career with the Vernon Vipers of the BCHL where he scored 16 points (three goals, 13 assists) in 114 games over two seasons. Last season as captain with the North Stars he broke out offensively with 24 points (6-18-24) in 53 games.
“He plays fairly tough and because he plays in all situations, he’s a guy I was interested in and I’ve been talking to him for a couple of months now,” said Keeper.
Statchuk was a teammate with Fountain, 20, this season who spent the last two years in North Battleford, Sask. The Wainwright native is six-foot-one and 190 pounds, but is a prototypical playoff type performer. Though he only tallied 30 points (13-17-30) in 54 games this season to go with 132 penalty minutes, he lead the North Stars in the playoffs with 10 points (7-3-10) in nine games while adding 51 penalty minutes.
“He had quite a few penalty minutes and that can be a good thing or a bad thing, but his penalty minutes are from playing very physical down low in the corners,” said Keeper. “He hits a lot and he has a way to get to the net and score goals.”
Baer spent most of his four SJHL season with the Yorkton Terriers before being dealt to the Klippers at the deadline. At six-feet, 190 pounds, he’s another tough competitor that is going to make life difficult for ACAC opponents. In 174 games in four years, he scored 49 points (7-42-49) and had 260 penalty minutes.
Keeper has seen a lot of Baer in recent years while recruiting other Terriers like current RDC Kings winger Pat Martens.
“He’s a right handed defenceman, which we don’t have any of right now, he’s very smooth, quick, he’s a mobile defenceman,” said Keeper. “He adds a little bit of strength and toughness on the blue-line but he was also used on the power play when he was in Yorkton.”
Key to much of the recruiting that Keeper has done in the last couple of years is playoff success, which Baer and Statchuk both have in spades, making RBC Cup appearances in their junior careers.
“It’s tough when we get guys that come from junior programs that didn’t have a lot of success,” he said. “It’s no knock on the individual, but when things get tough, when adversity hits, they just haven’t had that experience going through those rough patches in a season )and finding success). The more guys we can get with experience from good junior programs and guys that have gone the distance in playoffs … it just adds to their character and that’s something you can’t get enough of.”
l Though the RDC Queens hockey team is currently without a coach, they have also added a quartet of players, led by 17-year-old forward Madison Casavant.
The Melfort, Sask., native scored 14 goals and 17 assists in 28 games while playing for the Prince Albert Bears in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League last season.
Joining Casavant will be a pair of Manitoba teammates, Jalin Adams and Kirsten Brown who played the last three years with the Yellowhead Chiefs. Adams, a forward, scored 30 goals and 33 assists in 163 games in her time with the club while Brown, another forward, had 14 goals and 25 assists in 181 games.
The final commitment is Rocky Mountain Raiders defenceman Taegan Borbandy who scored three goals and 10 assists in Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League games this year.