VANCOUVER, BC- The recruiting season has gotten off to a sprightly start for St.Francis Xavier University, as the men’s hockey program has already announced SEVEN(!!!) recruits ahead of their 2020-21 AUS campaign.
St.FX ended their season in 5th place last year but fell out fo the payoffs in the first round. However, they are addressing the graduating players and early playoff exit with their latest set of new faces. The team which was average offensively last season has brought in four additional forwards, all of whom are expected to be large contributors to the X’s offence in the coming season.
Of the four newest recruits, three are coming from the possible junior level. Their recruitment is a statement to the program’s success, and the recruiters when it comes to selling players in their school. Although the team did struggle last season, the additions can only help in their quest to regain AUS hockey glory.
So who are these four new faces?
After signing a trio of QMJHL talent’s last month, The X-Men went out and got themselves a pair of players from the WHL. It’s not always a common sight to see western players move east, but for the Antigonish school, they can only be happy that they are able to attract talent countrywide.
Connor Bruggen-Cate and Leif Mattson are the two WHL players making their way east, and they are both hoping to slot in on their respective wings come puck drop in the fall. Bruggen-Cate, a left-winger from the Seattle Thunderbirds has had a fairly successful WHL tenure. His latest season gave him a change of scenery, as he left the Kelowna Rockets where he had spent four years, to join the Seattle Thunderbirds.
Bruggen-Cate played alongside Mattson when he was in Kelowna, and the two will be teammates again when they dawn the blue and white in Nova Scotia. The former assistant captain of the Thunderbirds is heralded as a physical, two-way winger, who can get the job done at both ends of the ice. These ideas and characteristics were shared by St.FX head coach Brad Peddle in the team’s official release. While the on-ice characteristics are one factor, another valuable one is the experience he had moving from the familiar comforts of Kelowna to a new city. This adjustment will have taught him lessons that he will be able to put to good use when he heads out east.
His former Kelowna Rockets teammate Leif Mattson has many of the same characteristics. Mattson also spent all but one season in Kelowna, before he finished his time in the WHL in Spokane, therefore he will have learned to have some of the same adjustment tools as Bruggen-Cate. The former Spokane Chief is bringing a scoring touch to the X-Men. The forward with blistering speed scored over 60 points on three occasions in the WHL, and his addition will be invaluable to an St.FX side that finished in the middle of the pack when it comes to goals scored.
With the two being former teammates, and even former linemates at one point, there could very well be some instant chemistry injected into the St.FX offence.
Moving east, but staying in the major junior ranks, the X-Men have also added veteran OHL forward Matthew Philip, who comes to the AUS after a 19 goal season with the Owen Sound Attack. Phillip is on the smaller side at 5’10”, but as a versatile forward, and that suits him just fine. Similar to Bruggen-Cate, his two-way play and defensive awareness have been heralded throughout his time in junior, where he also proved durable, playing over 45 games in each season.
The only non-CHL’er of the recent four joining the X-Men is also the only Martimer.
Hailing from Prince Edward Island, Dallas Ferrel has played Junior “A” hockey in some of the best developmental leagues out there. He spent a season on the other side of the country, where he played with the British Columbia Hockey League’s (BCHL) Coquitlam Express and Wenatchee Wild. The centreman scored 43 points in 62 games while playing against some of the NCAA’s top prospects on the west coast.
He joins the X-Men after a brief foray into then Maritime Junior “A” League, where he tallied 51 points in 41 games with the Weeks Crushers. He is far from the first Weeks player to head to Antigonish, and he will attempt to follow in the footsteps of recent St.FX graduate Mark Tremaine, who is now playing with the Toronto Maple Leafs ECHL affiliate in Newfoundland.
These four players will join QMJHL recruits Ethan Crossman (LW, Charlottetown Islanders), Brendon Clavelle (D, Charlottetown Islanders) and Patrick Kyte (D, Chicoutimi Saguenéens), who all committed to the program as part of the school’s first round of announcements. Already at seven new players, the X-Men could have one of the largest recruitment classes in all of U SPORTS.