Canucks reload for another run
The Niagara Falls Canucks appear poised for another strong season.
The Canucks feature a solid nucleus of players returning from last year and have also added some important pieces for the upcoming Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League season.
The league has set a tentative start date of Dec. 2, pending government approval.
Back from last season are forwards Andrew Bruno (38-54-92), Matthew Riva (22-49-71), Jaleel Adams (18-33-51), Brodie Thoms (12-22-34), Jake McKinstray (1-3-4) and Dario Tesoro (12-21-33).
The Canucks are also set in goal with the return of netminders Anthony Tremonte (2.94, .914) and Jack Brand (2.42, .918).
“We’re pretty happy with the guys we have back,” Canucks coach/general manager Frank Pietrangelo said. “We have a good nucleus of players to continue with what we’ve been doing for the last couple of years.”
And with slightly more than two months before the season is slated to start, Pietrangelo said the final roster is far from set.
“We have a pretty nice team on paper. You have to remember the OHL (Ontario Hockey League) camps and all the rest of the leagues, it’s the trickle-down effect. A lot of those players haven’t surfaced yet but we have to go under the pretense that this is where we are at.”
The Canucks have also been busy adding pieces including forwards Michael Marchesan (Hamilton), Ari Alakorpi (Brantford) and Maddux Pepin (Pelham).
“They are forwards with GOJHL experience. We thought it was important to add a little more veteran presence on our club,” Pietrangelo said.
On the blueline, the Canucks welcome: Ryan Cooper, a 20-year-old offensive rearguard from Courtice; Waterloo’s Kyle Cupolo; smooth-skating Jack Meloff; and, 6-foot-1, 200-pound Max Morris, who skated for the Hill Academy last season.
“They are good kids who we think can step in and be good players for us. We’re expecting big things and hopefully they will be able to fill some holes,” Pietrangelo said.
The Canucks have been on the ice for a couple of weeks and Pietrangelo admitted it’s not the same feeling as a normal training camp with so much time to prepare.
“It’s been very difficult. I really don’t have a master plan on this because obviously it’s unprecedented,” he said.
So far, the Canucks have used September as a conditioning period.
“I’m not sure how much guys have skated over the summer or how much training they’ve done because the gyms were closed. We used to skate informally in summer and start camp mid-August,” Pietrangelo said.
The team has also chosen to skate three times a week, versus the normal four to five times.
“We don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves,” he said.
For the time being, the Canucks are using three dressing rooms at the Gale Centre due to social distancing procedures.
“We’re not in our dressing room and not doing a lot of the team things you normally would be doing,” Pietrangelo said. “I don’t know if our guys even know who we’ve signed.
“I always talk about team camaraderie and guys liking each other in the dressing room. That’s a big part of success and we haven’t even been able to touch on that yet. It’s been off too and that’s not a good thing.”
The Canucks lost 12 players from last season’s team, nine to graduation and three to higher levels.
Anthony Issaris has moved on to the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Jake Burke to the North American Hockey League and Jeremy Fontaine to the British Columbia Hockey League.
“That’s great for those kids because that’s what we’re supposed to do with these guys,” Pietrangelo said.
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