The Notre Dame Hounds are known for giving underage players a shot, and this year appears to be no different, as the Wilcox-based club is shaping up to be one of the youngest teams in the SJHL once again.
The Hounds have a unique set up, in that they have a pipeline of players in their own back yard, with high level Bantam and Midget ‘AAA’ players waiting in the wings on the Athol Murray campus, and many are capable of making the jump prior to exhausting their midget eligibility.
“My goal here is to use our ‘AAA’ program, have Grade 12 players in our lineup who can play,” said Head Coach/GM Clint Mylymok. “Not just plug into roles but actually play meaningful minutes and contribute. Don’t get me wrong I love recruiting outside the program too, I have guys from California, and we’ve had guys from across North America but these kids here can play.”
The Hounds stayed close to home for much of this year’s recruiting class, going with a handful of 1999-born players. Headlining the list is 17-year-old Adam Dawe, who put up 30-goals and 54-points, leading the “AAA” Hounds in both categories. Dawe, a Newfoundland product, is already committed to the University of Maine, a scholarship which could kick in as early as next season. Dawe’s ‘AAA’ teammate Cole Kirkup also joins the Junior club this year, as will defenseman Jacob Arsenault who suited up for the ‘AAA’ Midget Argos a year ago. Ahmed Ally (Moose Jaw Generals “AAA”) joins the fold as a 17-year-old, while 1998-born Colby Brandt is another promising rookie, having put up 44-points in 43-games last year with the Tisdale Trojans.
Another shot in the arm up front on the veteran side of things is the return of 20-year-old Ben Duperreault. He had 28 points in 25 games with the Hounds last season before jumping to the WHL’s Lethbridge Hurricanes. On the flip side, Jack Flaman and Gage Ramsay will both start out with Vancouver (WHL).
“They’re both WHL-worthy guys,” said Mylymok. “I hope they stick there, that’s what our program is about, moving guys to the next level, whether it’s college, major junior or pro.”
Ian Williams (Norwich – NCAA Division III) is moving on after four full seasons, as is captain Nathan Walsh (Western – CIS) and fellow defesneman Peyton Hogan, who’s entering the work force a year early. Three year starting goalie Alexi Thibaudeau (Moncton – CIS) will also leave big skates to be filled in the crease.
“Alexi was such a calming influence, a player you never had to worry about as a coach, and just a phenomenal kid, a great ambassador for the program. We’ll be going with two first year guys this year, but times have changed. Rookie goalies come into camp ready to start. They’ve had goalie coaches for years and these guys come in wanting minutes now.”
The only rookie goalie Mylymok was ready to commit to as of publish time was 18-year-old Riley Hidgon, another 18-year-old graduate of the Argos program.