By Total Sports Media Staff
With pandemic restrictions loosening, local hockey is starting to ramp back up in the Quinte area as players take to the ice at the Quinte Wellness Center with its recent reopening.
As local players ready themselves for action this fall, a handful of Quinte area players are heading into critical camps as well as important milestones over the course of the next few weeks.
Belleville native Donovan McCoy has been invited to the Team Canada U18 summer development camp in Calgary starting July 25th. This is the first steps towards choosing the U18 Team Canada team that will try to repeat as U18 world champions when it is held in Germany this coming season. McCoy is a first round draft pick of the Peterborough Petes who has seen action with the Wellington Dukes during his minor midget season and with the Cobourg Cougars while the OHL was on hold with the pandemic.
The U 18 Team Canada women’s summer Development Camp will also be running during this same period in Calgary. 46 of the top U 18 women’s players in Canada have been invited to Calgary to compete for a spot on the U18 Team that will compete for the U18 Women’s World championship to be held in Sweden this coming season. Belleville Bearcat alumni and current PWHL Kingston Ice Wolves player Sara Roger has been selected as one of the 46 invitees to this camp. Roger is committed to play NCAA Div 1 hockey at Colgate University starting in 2022.
The U18 World Championships for Women holds the same importance in the women’s game as the U20 “World juniors” tournament does for the men. Because there is no U20 tournament for women, the U18 is the only “best on best” tournament for women before they join the Women’s National Team. This coming year Sweden was scheduled to host the event in 2021 but was derailed due to Covid. The cancellation of this event while the U20 World Juniors men’s event continued caused some controversy in the hockey community.
Last season a similar roster of 40 plus was assembled for the U18 National women’s team which saw Kingston IceWolves players Alexa Pongo and Zoe Uens selected to that roster, however a final team was never announced as the championships were cancelled. Hockey Canada has decided to compensate for that misfortune by creating a “Next Gen” team composed of 2003 birth year players that would have made up the roster for the U18 Team Canada final roster.
Zoe Uens has been named to the “NextGen” team for Team Canada Summer Development Camp. Uens, who plays for the PWHL Kingston IceWolves is committed to play NCAA Div 1 hockey at Quinnipiac University starting in 2022. Uens also competed internationally in Japan as part of a Friendship series made up of Team Ontario 2003 birth year players.
The Next Gen team will play games versus the current U18 players as well as the U23 Development team that will be training in Calgary as well.
Hanna Bunton, former Belleville Bearcat and Cornell University alumni, is working for Hockey Canada as the Coordinator of Hockey operations at this camp for the Women’s U 18 and Next Gen teams.
Campbellford native, and current coach of the NCAA women’s hockey team at Quinnipiac, Cassie Turner has been named Assistant coach of the Next Gen team as well. Turner played hockey through the Campbellford system before joining the PWHL and then attending Brown University in NCAA Div 1 Women’s hockey.
While all of this Hockey Canada Development unfolds, the NHL will be rolling out a key part of their annual schedule as well as an unusual draft that may have implications for a few Quinte area residents.
Ben Roger of Brighton, brother of Sara, is a former Quinte Red Devil and Wellington Duke currently playing with the OHL London Knights. The 6’4” 194 pound right handed defenceman is ranked number 74 among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. With so many players not seeing regular action, the pundits really have no idea where to rank players. Some of the unofficial media rankings have Roger ranked as low as #89 and as high as # 293. Most will agree that Roger will be drafted and it will be between the 3rd and 5th round. Best of luck to him.
If Roger is drafted, this will be the second former Wellington Duke in successive years to hear their name called in the annual cattle call for the NHL. Zach Uens, brother of Zoe, was drafted in the fourth round #105 overall by the Florida Panthers in the 2020 NHL draft.
With the entry of the Seattle Kraken into the NHL, a once in a blue moon expansion draft will be held this week as well. Quinte resident and former QRD alumni Nick Cousins has had his name mentioned in a few circles as a player that may be selected by Seattle in the Expansion draft.
The former 3rd round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers has had stints in Philadelphia, Arizona, Montreal, Vegas and now Nashville where he has been left exposed and available for the expansion draft.
Cousins is entering his final year of contract with Nashville with a salary of $2 million and carries a cap hit of $1.5 million. He is viewed as a capable utility player with a favourable contract, therefore quite attractive to the Seattle brass.