Story: David Willberg of Estevan Mercury Publications
The Power Dodge Estevan Bruins have announced that three local hockey products have committed to play for them next season.
Forward Mason Strutt and defencemen Kersey Reich and Alex von Sprecken all played for Estevan Minor Hockey Association teams before venturing off to play midget AAA.
Strutt spent the last three seasons with the Swift Current Legionnaires midget AAA program. He tied for the team lead in scoring last season with 23 goals and 55 points in 41 regular season games, and added two goals in three postseason games.
“Strutt is a dynamic, excellent skating offensive forward who is a very good teammate and individual, so he will evolve into a very good 200-foot player and be a high production guy,” said Bruins head coach-GM Chris Lewgood.
Reich also spent the past three seasons with the Legionnaires. Last season he recorded five goals and 32 points in 44 games, and added a goal and an assist in three playoff games.
“He’s an offensive minded defenceman, and he’s also very responsible defensively,” said Lewgood. “He shoots the puck very well and he’ll eventually be a power play type defenceman.”
Reich’s brother Taylor was a forward with the Bruins from 2011-2013.
Von Sprecken still has a year of midget AAA eligibility remaining. He had four goals and 17 points in 39 games with the Prince Albert Mintos midget AAA program last season, and added a goal and an assist in four playoff games.
“Von Sprecken’s a little bit of everything,” said Lewgood. “He’s gritty, he’s intense, he’s physical, but he has a good touch with the puck and a strong level of talent as well.”
He has also played five games for the Bruins as a midget AAA callup.
All three are players the club has been watching for years, and Lewgood has looked forward to when they play for the organization.
The club has also announced the acquisition of forward Devon Cyr from the Bonnyville Pontiacs of the Alberta Junior Hockey League for a player development fee.
Cyr spent the past two seasons with the Kindersley Klippers before being sent to Bonnyville this offseason.
He had 13 goals and 22 points in 38 games last season.
“He immediately comes into being one of our top offensive players. He’s a very good scorer and plays with a little bit of grit and creates some offence. He’s very good at creating holes, and I think paired up with a really good setup guy, he’ll have large production.”
Also, goaltender Grant Boldt has committed to play with the Chippewa Falls Steel in the North American Hockey League next season. Boldt was the Bruins No. 1 goaltender last season, appearing in 30 regular season games and all 13 postseason matchups.
In other Bruin news, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League has announced rule changes for next season. The biggest change is that the league has dropped the survivor series, in which the team with the seventh-best record in the league in the regular season would play the No. 10 team, and the eighth-seeded and the ninth-seeded teams would meet in the other series.
Next season the top eight teams will make the playoffs, and four teams will be out.
The division winner is no longer guaranteed a top three seed or even a spot in the playoffs. It means a division winner could miss the playoffs, although Lewgood said the odds of that happening are remote.
He said he favours the change, as does the rest of the league.
“If we’re going to have an eight-team playoff, especially with no survivor series any more, just let the teams’ records speak for themselves and their accomplishments throughout the season determine where they sit for playoff seeding,” he said.
Also next season, the league will drop the no-touch icing rule in favour of the hybrid icing rule that has been adopted by the NHL and other leagues. The linsemen will now have discretion on whether to blow a play dead for icing, or allow for a race for a puck to potentially negate an icing call.
“I think it’s been slowly trickling into high levels. I saw it with Team Canada West; I got familiar with it at the World Junior A Challenge. I thought it added an element of excitement to the game, and I think it makes a lot of sense for our league to go that route.”
The schedule for the 2019-20 season has yet to be announced.