Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Notebook: Dogs pick taken in MHL Draft

The Maritime Hockey League held its annual draft last weekend and, as usual, there were a few Saint John Sea Dogs notes that came from it.

  • The Grand Falls Rapids selected Sea Dogs forward Jacob Beaulieu in the QMJHL supplemental draft. Beaulieu, who will turn 18 at the end of this month, has spent the past two years in Saint John but will likely be in a battle for one of the team's depth forward roles this coming season.
  • Defenseman Joshua Henry, a sixth-round pick of Saint John in this year's QMJHL Entry Draft, was selected in the fourth-round by the Fredericton Red Wings. Henry spent last season at Rothesay Netherwood.
  • The Red Wings traded the rights to former Sea Dogs forward Francis Woods to the Gatineau Flames of the QJHL. Woods was a bit of a journeyman last year, playing games with the Sea Dogs, Flames, Red Wings, Gatineau Olympiques and Rockland Nationals.
  • Forward Will Shearer of the Halifax McDonald's was selected first overall by the Campbellton Tigers. Shearer was a sixth-round pick of the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in this year's QMJHL Entry Draft.

The full results of this year's MHL Draft can be found here.

The Sea Dogs have found a new equipment manager – and they didn't have to look far.

The team has named Saint John native Bradey Williston the club's head equipment manager, replacing Tyler Jay who accepted a position with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. The 27-year-old joins the Sea Dogs after spending this past season with the ECHL's South Carolina Stingrays.

“This team has been a huge part of my life since I was eight-years-old,” Williston said in a news release. “So the chance to come back home was a very special opportunity that I could not pass up.”

Williston was previously an assistant equipment manager with the Sea Dogs for three seasons and helped the club win the Memorial Cup in 2022.

Friday, June 14, 2024

Friday night news & notes

Major junior hockey in Mississauga is no more.

The Ontario Hockey League has officially approved the relocation of the Mississauga Steelheads to Brampton where they will become the Brampton Steelheads. The two rinks are located less than 10 minutes from each other (pictured).

Brampton's CAA Centre has been without the OHL since the Battalion moved to North Bay in 2013. The move probably won't help the Steelheads' woeful attendance much, but it's believed to be a much more financially friendly lease arrangement. 

Mississauga's Paramount Fine Foods Centre – previously the Hershey Centre – is where the Saint John Sea Dogs won their first Memorial Cup in 2011. The Steelheads franchise was then known as the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors.

The Steelheads will play their first game in Brampton on Sept. 27 against the Brantford Bulldogs.

A few other news and notes...

  • The Sea Dogs website recaps the team's QMJHL Entry Draft, which includes a few comments from general manager Anthony Stella.
  • Oak View Group, the company that manages TD Station, will soon manage the Saint John Trade and Convention Centre, reports Country 94.
  • The Quebec Remparts could host next year's QMJHL Entry Draft, reports le Soleil. The Remparts last hosted in 2019 when the Sea Dogs selected Joshua Roy first overall.
  • There's going to be plenty of attention on the 2025 QMJHL Entry Draft (and the tanking that will come with it) with Alexis Joseph expected to be taken first overall. Joseph is considered by many to be the best Quebec prospect since Alexis Lafreniere.
  • The Halifax Mooseheads have named Andrew Lord the team's new head coach. Lord was the head coach and general manager of the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits. He is the reigning ECHL coach of the year.
  • Times are good in Cape Breton. General manager Sylvain Couturier has signed a "multi-year" contract extension with the club, which is coming off a trip to the league semifinals.
  • The WHL's Kelowna Rockets have made it known that they are bidding to host the 2026 Memorial Cup. The Rockets were set to host the 2020 event that was cancelled by the pandemic.
  • Flames Nation looks back on the season former Sea Dogs defenseman Yan Kuznetsov had, which included an NHL call up.
  • Gold Canada executive Bryan Crawford has been named the new commissioner of the OHL, replacing the retiring David Branch. All three CHL leagues will have relatively new commissioners next season.
  • The OHL regular season will begin a week later than the QMJHL's. The OHL is expected to release its full schedule on Monday.

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

How Sea Dogs alumni performed in ECHL

Saint John Sea Dogs
Former Saint John Sea Dogs forwards Nico Blachman (pictured) and Kelly Bent were amongst the ECHL leaders in one category – and it was the category you probably guessed.

Blachman finished second in penalty minutes with 188 in 45 games split between the Adirondack Thunder, Kalamazoo Wings and Iowa Heartlanders while Bent finished fourth with 174 in 62 games split between the Wichita Thunder and Orlando Solar Bears.

The two were still quite a ways off the league penalty minutes leader: Mark Liwiski of the Norfolk Admirals had a league high 310 in 54 games.

Beyond the fighting, it was a low key year for former Sea Dogs in the ECHL, a few of whom split the season between the league and the American Hockey League. Ryan Francis, for example, appeared in 31 games with the ECHL's Greenville Swamp Rabbits and 19 games with the AHL's Ontario Reign.

Nicolas GuayTR36111223
Ryan FrancisGVL3191221
Maxim CajkovicIA
Kelly BentWIC
Nico BlachmanADK
Philippe DaoustALN5325
Nathan NoelMNE24145
Raivis AnsonsWHL8213
Jack Van BoekelFW3000

Van Boekel also played with the Western Ontario Super Hockey League's Tillsonburg Thunder. He had 51 penalty minutes in seven regular season games and 84 penalty minutes in 15 playoff games.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Mateiko performs well at NHL Combine

Saint John Sea Dogs forward Eriks Mateiko had a strong showing at the recent NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo.

The Latvian had top-10 finishes aerobic fitness, wingspan and right and left hand grip.

Below are the top-25 results from each of those categories (click to enlarge).

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Notebook: Dogs aiming for 2027-28 peak

Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
MONCTON – It would appear that the Saint John Sea Dogs have identified 2027-28 as their next "all in" season.

Speaking after the conclusion of this weekend's Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League Entry Draft, general manager Anthony Stella said the plan is to go for it with a team led by the 2008 birth year, which the majority of this draft class was made of.
Saint John will likely have some high picks in next year's draft as well to help support this core.

The Sea Dogs are certainly asking for patience from their fans here but, ideally, the team is contending a season or two before then with 2028 being the bookend of this cycle. The QMJHL will also be hosting the Memorial Cup in 2028.

Friday night marked the third time in Sea Dogs franchise history that the club selected three times in the first round.

2024: F William Yared (5), F Dylan Rozzi (8) and D Cameron Chartrand (19)

2018: D William Villeneuve (2), D Jeremie Poirier (8) and F Josh Lawrence (15)

2015: F Joe Veleno (1), G Alex D'Orio (9) and F Cedric Pare (10)

This was the first time the Sea Dogs picked in the first round since 2021.

It looks like there will be an instant connection between Saint John's top two picks, who both spent last season with the Lac St-Louis Lions.
"One would miss the other if they were split up so we're glad to get them both," said Stella. 

Saint John then used their second round pick on Lions defenseman Cruz Scanzano.

Mateiko remains a Sea Dog for now

Michael Hawkins/Saint John Sea Dogs
MONCTON – The Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League Entry Draft is over and Eriks Mateiko remains a Saint John Sea Dog.

Mateiko, who is coming off his second season with the Sea Dogs and will likely get selected in the NHL Draft later this month, is considered to be one of the top imports in the QMJHL next year. Given where Saint John is at in their rebuild, trading him to a contender is a logical move.

A deal hasn't happened, but one could certainly be coming soon, said Sea Dogs general manager Anthony Stella following Saturday's QMJHL Entry Draft at the Avenir Centre.

"We could have moved now or we could have moved at Christmas," Stella said of dealing the Latvian forward. "If Moncton wanted to make a splash they would have done the deal last night – they didn't. If they wanted to make a splash today they could have done it today and they didn't. There was a handful of other teams that asked about him. I think, leading into it, it's not over yet. There could still be deals for Eriks in the coming days – not necessarily with the draft. So we'll see how that unfolds but that is still an active file."
The Sea Dogs made just one trade this past week, dealing a 2025 first-round pick (which originally belonged to Moncton) to the Rimouski Oceanic in exchange for the 19th overall selection in Friday night's first round. Saint John used the pick on defenseman Cameron Chartrand who spent last season playing US prep school hockey with the Bishop Kearney Selects.

Playing US prep school hockey is typically a sign of a player intending to play college hockey – or at least keep that pathway open. Saint John drafted three Canadians who currently play in the United States and another four American players.

Stella said the team is hopeful that expected changes to the NCAA/CHL arrangement – which would allow CHL players to play NCAA hockey – will entice players to join the Sea Dogs.