It was signing day in Moose Jaw.
Not only did the Moose Jaw Warriors beat Swift Current 3-1 in a rookie game Tuesday, but nine players committed their future to the Western Hockey League club.
“It was similar to the number of guys that graduated from rookie camp to main camp. That number was a little bit higher than we maybe expected,” said Warriors general manager Alan Millar. “We probably came into camp thinking that there were five or six kids that we would work with and see how they did and get them to sign standard player agreements. Some guys came in and earned their way.”
Defencemen Logan Hermus, Dallas Valentine, Tyler Brown and Dustin Perillat along with forwards Colton McCarthy, Ben Duperreault, Brandon Del Grosso, Ethan Lazaro and Ethan Williams all signed standard WHL player agreements. All of the players were either ’96- or ’97-born players.
“When you look at our team over the next couple of years we’re going to be putting some young players into our lineup. That will start this year up front and in net and next year with the potential graduation of four defencemen we’re going to have some young guys going in on the back end,” said Millar.
Shortly after the game, the Warriors also trimmed down to 28 players. They reassigned all of their 1997-born players who are too young to play in the WHL this season: Zach Sawchenko, Ryan Gardiner, Brown, Perillat, Williams and Lazaro. They also reassigned defencemen Valentine and Logan Hermus and centre McCarthy.
That leaves the Warriors with three goalies, eight defencemen and 17 forwards left in camp. They are hoping to be down to 24 players by the start of the season and are looking to trim three forwards and a goalie.
McCarthy was one of the biggest coups of the signing process. The Moose Jaw-born, Salmon Arm, B.C.-raised centre opened the scoring Tuesday after saving a goal with a courageous shot block.
He has a strong interest in pursuing post-secondary education, but opted to pledge his future to the Warriors.
“I’m really happy. I’m glad to be back home and with this great franchise,” said McCarthy.
“I just wanted to come home. It’s a great rink. The coaching staff really impressed me. It’s a great bunch of guys and I like it here.”
McCarthy will join the Junior B Nelson Leafs of the Kootenay International league for the season.
Duperreault also scored Tuesday and continued his excellent pre-season. He was singled out for having a great midget AAA camp with the Moose Jaw Generals and was rewarded for his strong Warriors camp by being signed.
“I was trying (to get signed). It’s been a goal all my life to play in the WHL. I was really excited when I got the chance to sign,” said the 1996-born winger who hails from Wilcox and played for Notre Dame a year ago. He was an eight-round pick for the Warriors.