Falcons gearing up for next season
The calendar doesn’t even read summer yet and the St. Catharines Falcons are already busy building for next season.
The Falcons have added several pieces for the upcoming Golden Horseshoe season, including five signed out of their prospect camp held a couple of weeks ago.
“So far it’s been real busy,” Falcons coach/general manager Frank Girhiny said. “We really got the cream of the crop with the major and minor midgets.
“We’re really excited. It gives us a good, young base.”
The Falcons added forwards Ethan Sims and Dawson McKinney as well as rearguards Marcus Gillard, Joe Colasurdo and Kris Black.
Sims was a fifth-round selection of the Niagara IceDogs in the 2018 Ontario Hockey League draft and played last season with the Niagara North Stars where he collected 20 goals and 44 points in 34 games.
McKinney played last season primarily with the Hamilton Junior Bulldogs and also got into 17 games with the Ancaster Avalanche in the regular season and playoffs where he scored five goals. He is a fourth-round selection of the Oshawa Generals.
“We knew him. He played last year in Ancaster against us in the playoffs and even as a 15-year-old he was one of their better players,” Girhiny said. “We were lucky enough to get him. He’s real hard-nosed.”
Gillard, the younger brother of former IceDog Matt Gillard, played seven games last season for the Welland Junior Canadians. He was selected in the 13th round by the Erie Otters.
“If he doesn’t make Erie, he will be back with us,” Girhiny said.
Colasurdo, 17, played with the Niagara North Stars and also captained the Denis Morris Reds.
“He’s a real good player and we’re happy to have him,” Girhiny said.
Black played in Hamilton the last two years, but is a St. Catharines native. The 6-foot-4, 190-pound rearguard is a right-handed shot.
“They will fit into our league and be really good. I’m really happy with that,” Girhiny said.
The Falcons have also added forwards Noah Sollinger and Nick Smith from the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Sollinger, 18, collected 38 points in 52 games while Smith, 19, had 35 goals and 55 points.
“They are real high-end players,” Girhiny said. “They are top-six forwards. Smith was at Erie camp and Sollinger was a captain as an 18-year-old so that speaks to his type of person he is.”
Girhiny said both are quality individuals.
“That’s one thing that we’re making a real big effort on, getting players that want to be St. Catharines Falcons and are committed to the Falcons,” he said. “This is where they want to play and this is where their heart is.”
Girhiny has also been busy re-signing players from last season’s club.
Back are Dillon Lamarche, Tanner Main and Jaleel Adams with several more signings to be finalized in the next couple of weeks.
“We still have a lot of work ahead of us but I think within the next two weeks we’ll have all our core guys signed and then it’s just a matter of filling a few slots and that’s a really good sign,” he said.
Girhiny indicated he would like to add another veteran defenceman and perhaps a goalie to fill in behind Lamarche.
“I expect the guys that are able to come back that they will be back. We’ve had discussions with everybody and the ones that don’t want to (come back) we’ll let them go.
“I expect most of them will be back.”
Two players who won’t be back are rearguards Tristan deJong, who has signed to player Tier 2 in Oakville, and Arber Xhekaj, who is expected to hook on with an OHL team.
Girhiny will be joined behind bench this season by Scott Sweitzer and newcomers Jack Davison and Chris McLean. Rick Girhiny returns as well and will serve as an eye in the sky in the press box.
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