Fourteen players from Newfoundland and Labrador were selected in the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s annual draft held over the weekend in Berwick, N.S., home to the Valley Wildcats.
The junior A Maritime circuit is a 12-team league which operates out of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick.
Centre Ethan Stuckless, who was captain for the major midget East Coast Blizzard and the third-leading scorer in the provincial major midget league last season, was the top selection among Newfoundlanders, going third overall to the St. Stephen, N.B., Aces.
The 17-year-old Stuckless (he turns 18 in October) attended Holy Spirit High in Conception Bay South and played school hockey with the Falcons.
The Aces also selected the N.L. major midget circuit’s top scorer, forward Andrew Antle of the major midget Western Kings, with the first pick of the second round.
Defenceman Paul Norman of the reigning Newfoundland major midget champion St. John’s Maple Leafs went in the first territorial round, held prior to the third round, to the Pictou Country Weeks Crushers. The territorial round is when teams select players from within their territorial boundaries. If a team passes on making a territorial pick, it is permitted to make another “free” selection of a player from outside its region, and that’s how Norman ended up in Pictou County.
Forward Reagan Seymour of the midget Maple Leafs, who was runner-up to Antle in the NLMMHL scoring race last season, was a third-round pick by the Truro Bearcats. Also taken in the third round was former St. John’s bantam player Mark Rumsey, a selection of the Amherst Ramblers. Rumsey, another forward, attended Rothesay Netherwood, a New Brunswick prep school, the last two years.
Other players from N.L. taken in the 2018 MHL draft, with their team last season (selecting club in brackets):
• Round 4: David Hibbs, Tri-Pen Osprey (Yarmouth Mariners); Nick French, St. John’s Maple Leafs (St. Stephen Aces)
• Round 6: Kyle Petten, Halifax Mooseheads (Campbellton Tigers); Malcolm Genge, Western Kings (Pictou County Weeks Crushers)
• Round 7: Michael Oliver, King’s Edgehill (N.S.) prep (Miramichi Timberwolves); Alex French, St. John’s Maple Leafs (Amherst Ramblers); Greg Kehoe, Stanstead College (Que.) prep (Summerside Western Capitals)
• Round 8: Brandon Casey, Newbridge Academy (N.S.) prep (Amherst Ramblers)
Casey was a fifth-round pick of the Rimouski Oceanic in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft earlier this month. He was the only Newfoundlander selected in both the QMJHL and MHL drafts this year, although four players taken over the weekend in Berwick had been 2017 QMJHL draft picks.
Those four were Petten, a forward who spent all of last season in the QMJHL with the Mooseheads; Rumsey, a fifth-round selection of the Moncton Wildcats a year ago; Oliver, a defenceman who was a seventh-round choice of the Val d’Or Foreurs ; and Kehoe, a rearguard taken in the eighth round by the Charlottetown Islanders.
And there will be players not drafted into the QMJHL who will nevertheless be invited to training camps of teams in that league. This includes Stuckless, a Holy Spirit high school student, who tweeted out that he will be attending the August camp of the Memorial Cup champion Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
One last note from the Maritime league draft: One of the trades that occurred on the draft weeken, saw Miramichi acquire the rights to defenceman Adam Nolan from Wildcats.
Nolan, a 19-year-old from Mount Pearl, played 55 games with Valley over the past two years, and also got into a few QMJHL games with Charlottetown in 2016-17. He finished the 2017-18 campaign with his hometown Blades in the St. John’s Junior Hockey League.