photo – Roman Melzer
The town of Wilcox may be a sleepy little town located on the prairies of Southern Saskatchewan, but Canmore Eagle’s Head Coach and General Manager Andrew Milne is betting that this hockey hotbed is capable of providing the necessary talent for the continued improvement of his Canmore Eagle hockey club.
Wilcox, located 43 km south of Regina, is best known for being the home of the Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a boarding school for students in grades 9-12. The village is also home to the Notre Dame Argos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and the Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
As the Eagles prepare for the 2013-14 Alberta Junior Hockey League season, the fortunes of this year’s Eagle team could very well hinge on the success of some recent Notre Dame Argo graduates.
While the Eagles will certainly be counting on former Notre Dame graduate and last year’s leading scorer Luke Simpson to be among the team’s scoring leaders again next season, Milne is pleased to announce that two other recent Notre Dame graduates will be joining the Eagles as defenceman Roman Melzer and forward Brett Radford have agreed to play for Canmore.
“We are thrilled to have these two new Notre Dame graduates coming to our team,” said Milne. “Luke Simpson led our team in scoring last year with 26 goals, so we know that the Notre Dame program produces some excellent hockey players and we are optimistic that Melzer and Radford will both fit right in and feel comfortable in the AJHL.”
Melzer, a 17-year-old Canmore native and a sixth-round pick of the Lethbridge Hurricanes of the WHL in the 2011 Bantam Draft, registered 16 points (4 goals and 12 points) in 30 games last season for the Notre Dame Argos.
“As a Canmore boy, we have been keeping a close eye on Roman for the last few years and we believe he can be a great player in the AJHL,” said Milne. “He is still young, but he certainly has the skills and the smarts to be an impact player in the years to come.
Radford, a 17-year-old forward from Campbell River, BC, finished second in Notre Dame Argo scoring last season with 38 points (16 goals and 22 assists) in 43 games.
“Radford is a gifted forward who should be able to help us out offensively,” said Milne. “When you compare his Notre Dame numbers to that of Luke Simpson, they are almost identical. Luke had 38 points in 44 games with Notre Dame in 2010-11 and Radford just put up 38 points in 43 games this year.”
For the veteran Simpson, the addition of two rookie Notre Dame graduates is a positive sign.”Notre Dame has an excellent hockey program and they teach you how to win,” said Simpson. “It's exciting to have them join the club for next season.”
The Eagles are also pleased to announce the signings of forwards Kurt Hildebrand (18 years-old) and Bryan Huck (17-years-old) and defenceman Jakob Lavoie (18 years-old). All three will be attending the main training camp in late August.
During the 2012-13 season, Hildebrand was the captain of his Calgary Flames AAA Midget team, Huck played for the Calgary Midget AA Gold team registering 42 points in 20 games, and Lavoie played Midget AAA for the St. Albert Raiders and has previous AJHL experience with the St. Albert Steel.
“Operating a Junior A Hockey club is always about keeping the cupboard stocked with younger players and we are excited to have these quality players join us,” said Milne, who also currently discussing possible roster spots with several other very promising players. “These new recruits will certainly challenge some of returning veterans when our training camp opens up in late August.”
NOTEBOOK: The “early-bird” Canmore Eagle season ticket campaign runs until May 31. Buy your season tickets now and save up to 30%. . . .With Melzer now on board, the Eagles should have seven Canmore boys on the roster next season. The other Canmore boys are Nils Moser, John Stevens, Luke Simpson, Simon Philp, Jeremy Gordon and Klye Pauls. . . .The AJHL should be releasing their 2013-14 schedule by mid-June. . . . Eagle forward Luke Simpson just returned from a week long trip to Boston to compete in the Chowder Cup. The showcase event is widely watched by many US College scouts. “The Chowder Cup was a great experince for me,” said Simpson. “We had about 40 teams in our division and we made it to the semi-finals with a 4-1 record. You learn a lot of different things when you play with other players and get advice from different coaches. It was very worthwhile and should help me next season.” . . . Don’t forget the Juerg Salzgeber hockey fundraiser this Saturday May 11 at the Canmore Curling Cup. Tickets are just $20 and can be picked up at March’s Flooring and at the door. There will be lots of great silent auction items (including 2 Canmore Eagle season tickets) and entertainment by the Elektric Squirrels and Valley Winds . . .The Canmore Eagles will be holding a golf tournament this year on Saturday , September 14 at the Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course. Details will be released soon.