The Quinte Red Devils Return to action, looking to be top in province

The Quinte Red Devils association has returned to action looking
to continue to be one of the top ‘AAA’ minor hockey organizations
in the province.

One big change since the teams last played competitive games is
the new ‘open borders’ policy that allows players U14 (previously
minor bantam) and up the ability to move freely between

Red Devils president Tyler Longo said there was hope restrictions
would be put in place for how many non-registered players teams
could add to avoid the creation of “super teams” but there aren’t
any official ones.

“Quinte as an association has put a limit of four (per team) on,”
Longo said. “We still feel confident and loyal to our areas that
we’ve had for the last 30 years. We still want to make sure we’re
developing our own kids, but at the same time we understand to
be competitive we have to open it up a little bit.”

Longo believes the new open borders rule will hold associations
accountable to ensure their development programs are top
notch, not just for U14 and up but the younger age groups as well
before they reach the older groups and the players have a positive

“If your development program is strong and the vision is there and
the coaching is in place and kids are improving every year, I think
you’ll see families stay.”

It was in 1990 that associations in Bancroft, Belleville, Brighton,
Colborne, Deseronto, Frankford, Grafton, Madoc, Marmora,
Napanee, Picton, Tamworth, Trenton, Tweed and Wellington came
together to form the Red Devils as a regional organization to
compete at the AAA level.

Local players have had the opportunity to compete at a high level,
but when players are ready is individual-based.

“The development path of each player is different. Some players
develop a lot quick than others. I think if a player is in their home
centre and things are starting to get a little too easy for them, the
challenge isn’t there anymore, that’s usually a good indication
that maybe it’s time to give your daughter or son a bit more of a
challenge and put them in a higher level,” Longo said.

That being said, if it’s not going well at the AAA level, it’s not a bad
idea to step back. Travel is another factor that must be considered
as games and venues can be held in a number of different areas.
“All depends what the families are looking for,” Longo said. “If you
don’t want to travel then I wouldn’t suggest AAA.”

In September, some sense of normalcy had returned following tryouts,                              teams formed and exhibitions. Teams were expecting
to play 35-game regular season schedules in the ETA (Eastern
Triple-A) loop.

Prior to the COVID shutdown in March 2020, five Quinte teams
were heading to OMHA championships. Longo thinks the Red
Devils should duplicate or better that success this season.

“Obviously our novice program which is our Foley Bus Lines
U9 Quinte Red Devils program they will continue to follow the
pathway of Hockey Canada, which is cross-ice hockey until January
and then they’ll integrate into full ice,” Longo said of the Jeanna
Oke-coached team.

The Gillespie Tree Service U10 Red Devils are coached by former
Belleville Bulls captain and OHL lineman Andrew Brown. “He’s got
a great squad so I’m looking forward to seeing that team progress
as the year goes on,” Longo said.

Longo calls the Borchert’s Roofing U11 Red Devils coached by
Gary Sage “a special group.”

“I’m amazed every time I go and watch these players,” he said. “The
things they’re able to do at the age they’re at right now is pretty
impressive. It’s going to be exciting to watch that team continue to
flourish. The last time they played together as a team was half-ice
which was novice so they’re going to finally get a full season where
they play full ice.”

Another strong team is the Stampkrete Concrete U12 Red Devils
coached by Brian Thompson.

“They’ve always been a top team in the ETA,” Longo said. “Once
again, a team that was set to make the OMHA before things shut
down before COVID and I think they’ve only improved adding a few
kids to their roster this year so that will be a fun team to watch.”

The e360s 13U Red Devils team coached by Sean Gawley is
“always a strong competitive team as well,” Longo noted.

In continuing having some great coaches in the organization, the
Freeflow Petrolium U14 Red Devils will be led this season by Ty
Green, coming in following six seasons with the Picton Pirates of
the Provincial Junior Hockey League.

“We’ve had a lot of kids come in from out-of-town that moved
to this area whether parents transferred for work and the open
borders now,” Longo said. “That’s a team that’s always kind of been
middle of the pack for us here in Quinte and they’ve got probably
six to seven new kids on their roster. I watched them play an
exhibition game and wow, a very skilled team and run well.”




Quinte’s Pita Pit U15 Red Devils coach also brings PJHL
experience with the Napanee Raiders in Mike Hartwick.

“He’s made some changes, especially with the open borders,”
Longo said. “Just talking to Mike he feels pretty excited and
confident about the group he’s put together.”

Longo expects a great season for the Kenny Chesher-coached
Madison Excuvating U16 Red Devils (see team preview on that
group). “I expect that group to make the OHL Cup so it will be
real fun to watch that whole group flourish as well,” he said.

The oldest group – the McInroy Maines U18 Red Devils – is
one Longo will especially keep an eye on as he coached many
of those players for the past three seasons. Seven players were
selected in the 2021 Ontario Hockey League draft.

Jeff Culhane takes over as head coach now that Longo has
moved on to become an assistant coach with the Wellington
Dukes. Players will be eligible for the OHL’s 2022 U18 draft.

“I certainly have an interest in that group to see how the boys
fare in their second go-around of the draft,” Longo said. “I think
the major midget draft this year will be looked at closer than
ever just because of the circumstances of last year. They’ve
put together a really strong team of some 04’s and 05’s. The
majority of the kids that didn’t move on through the draft this
year will return to Quinte and the 05 players bring a great deal of
leadership and experience.”

All seven players drafted in the OHL Priority Selection have
moved on. Ethan Miedema (fourth overall to the Windsor
Spitfires) and Cal Uens (42nd overall to the Owen Sound Attacks)
have made their respective OHL clubs, Ethan Quick (64th overall
to the Ottawa 67’s) is with the Wellington Dukes, Jack Dever (No.
68 to Ottawa) is with the Pickering Panthers, Duncan Schneider
(94th overall to the Kingston Frontenacs) is with the Cobourg
Cougars, Christopher Brydges (162nd to the Guelph Storm) is

with the Peterborough Petes U18 AAA team and Ethan Beattie
(253rd to the Hamilton Bulldogs) is playing AAA hockey closer to
home for Ajax/Pickering.

Longo will keep an eye on all their successes, but is excited to
continue watching the 2021-22 Red Devils teams.

“It will be fun to watch all our teams this year,” he said. “I’m
expecting great things from all the teams in Quinte. As long
as things keep moving the way they are and we keep pushing
forward, it will be a fun year to see all these teams kind of do
their thing.”

Longo is also excited about a new partnership between the Red
Devils and Wellington Dukes, noting the junior A club’s general
manager Rob Ridgely and head coach Derek Smith were involved
in the process of the coaching selection committee for Quinte.

“Now Mike Murphy the goaltending coach for Wellington is the
goaltending coach for the Quinte Red Devils as well,” Longo
added. “He will oversee all nine teams, two goaltenders on each
team. He’ll work with them on a weekly basis.”

Smith is also involved with the development team that includes
Frontenacs assistant coach Chris Longo as well.

“The relationship we hope to build is one where players get to
know a lot of the players who are in Wellington now, get to know
the program that’s in Wellington and get to see a little bit just by
coming out to the Dukes game experience,” Tyler Longo said.

“I think it’s a win-win situation for both organizations. In Quinte
you’re still producing local players and it’s great for Wellington by
putting local boys on your team and essentially that puts more
butts in the seats and probably helps with billet costs as well. It’s
great to have that relationship with minor hockey and a junior