As announced during alumni weekend and made official this week, both Mike Thomas and Stephen Anderson will join the V-Reds for the upcoming season. According to UNB, Thomas will start playing in the second half “after completing his academic requirements.”
Thomas, who played five seasons with Saint John from 2006 to 2011 and captained the team to a Memorial Cup championship, played with UNB during the 2013-14 season and recorded six goals, two assists and 111 penalty minutes in 25 games. He returns to the club after attending firefighting school last year.
"Michael is a proven winner and a top character leader who will add an exciting physical dimension to our hockey club,” said head coach Gardiner MacDougall. “He is very popular in the community and will be a key addition for the second half.”
Anderson spent parts of three seasons with the Sea Dogs. He was traded prior to last season and split the 2014-15 campaign with the Val-d’Or Foreurs and Cape Breton Screaming Eagles.
"We've always had a lot of success with players from PEI, and we expect Stephen to continue the tradition," said MacDougall. "Stephen has lots of speed and grit and his versatility will allow him to play all three forward positions. We see a big upside for his development and growth here at UNB."
Also recruited by UNB this season were QMJHL goaltenders Alex Dubeau and Etienne Marcoux.
HOW GOOD WILL THE DOGS BE?
If you are looking to get excited about the upcoming season, check out Willy Palov’s weekly column in the Chronicle Herald.
Palov writes that the Sea Dogs might be just as good – or even better than – the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Charlottetown Islanders, who are both built to be strong this year.
“(Saint John’s) defence is about as good as it gets, their forward depth may be the best in the league and they have an underrated overager in goal,” writes Palov. “Not only that, but proven champion Danny Flynn is now on their bench. They will make noise.”
A fun season is ahead.
Pre-season numbers don’t mean much… but lets look at some anyway! That’s what we do.
The Sea Dogs finished exhibition play with a 3-3-0-0 record, scoring 21 goals and registering a +2 goal differential. The Dogs were 2-1-0-0 on home ice and 1-2-0-0 on the road.
Matthew Highmore and Sam Povorozniouk led the team in points with five each. Those two, along with Adam Marsh, all had three goals, which led the team. Meanwhile, Nathan Noel’s four assists were a team high.
Underager Joe Veleno had a productive introduction to the league, recording two goals and two assists in four games to finish third in team scoring.
Forward Matt Green was the only played to appear in all six pre-season games.
The Sea Dogs always seem to have solid pre-season crowds in comparison to other markets - and this season was no different.
The official attendance for all three Sea Dogs exhibition home games was over 2,000. There were definitely fewer people in the building than what the official attendance mark stated, but the crowds were still good for pre-season hockey.
Saint John’s average attendance was 3,504.
BLIGHT LANDS IN TRURO
Former Sea Dogs defenseman and overager Braydon Blight as joined the MHL’s Truro Bearcats for the 2015-16 season.
“Any time you can bring in a big defenceman with major junior experience, that’s a major addition,” said Bearcat Jacob Fancy to the Truro Daily News. “It’s indescribable how much that brings to your club.”
The Sea Dogs added Blight as a free agent last season. In 37 games, the Clinton, Ontario native registered three goals and five assists.
ACES CAMP BEGINS
The St. Stephen County Aces get their training camp rolling today with a couple practices and a 7 p.m. scrimmage.
There are quite a few notable names on the Aces training camp roster, including Michael Veleno, Cody Grant, Ben Reid and Mitchell Arseneau. Goaltender Kyle Porter is also back in St. Stephen.
The Aces play their first game of the MHL pre-season on Sunday afternoon at 4 p.m. against the Summerside Western Capitals.
Former Sea Dogs defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel has signed with the ECHL’s Norfolk Admirals. The Ads are affiliated with the Edmonton Oilers.
Roussel, a second round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2009 NHL Draft, played with Saint John during the 2011-12 season and helped the Dogs win a President Cup. In 58 regular season games he scored 13 goals and added 27 assists. He had another three goals and 12 assists in 17 playoff games.
The 23-year-old has bounced between the AHL and ECHL during his pro career. He even played 11 games in the LNAH last season.
The Admirals are coached by Shawinigan Cataractes legend Eric Veilleux – who coached Roussel for a few seasons in the QMJHL.
Here’s a Nathan Beaulieu interview from alumni weekend:
Photos: Marc Henwood/Station Nation; Marc Henwood/Station Nation