U SPORTS MHKY: Stevenson Leaves Spitfires for Queen’s Gaels

Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on ThePuckAuthority.com on April 22nd.

After starting off rather quietly with just four recruitments to start the season, Queen’s University broke ground on Tuesday with their fifth addition in Thomas Stevenson. This was first reported by Victor Findlay of Sauga 960 who said that the school and the OA defensemen had agreed to terms with a verbal commitment. 

As Findlay goes on to mention, the deal in place allows the former Spitfire to join the Queen’s Gaels for the upcoming season. Queen’s has been rather quiet in terms of stocking up for the future as rumours have loomed for the past several weeks, but very little to show for those talks.

The deal between Stevenson and Queen’s was formally announced by the school on Tuesday. With this commitment now booked, the Windsor defensemen joins the OUA East, a compact division with the league’s silver medalists.

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Unlike the Queen’s Cup runner-ups, the Gaels have not gone full out on the market as Ottawa has looked to the CHL, adding four so far from Quebec and Ontario. This includes Anthony Poulin, Keenan MacIsaac, Jarome Gravel and Bradley Chenier.

To this regard, for next season, the Gaels have added four alongside Stevenson. This includes Calvin Martin, Anthony Popovich, Alex Roberts and Jakob Braheny. Martin and Popovich alike both join the Queen’s Gaels from the OHL. Martin, from the Mississauga Steelheads, and Anthony Popovich, most recently with Flint.

Braheny, 21-years-old, is a former member of the Kingston Frontenacs. On top of all of this, the school, which stands in Eastern Ontario, has been connected in recent weeks to Kitchener forward Jonathan Yantsis. Despite the OA matching their interests, the two sides have yet to reach a formal agreement.

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The Puck Authority contacted Kitchener, but the Rangers declined a request for further comment. Returning the attention to Stevenson, the Orleans, On native spent the last three years with the OHL’s Spitfires in Windsor, Ontario where he played on the blue-line as a two-way defender after being selected from the CCHL.

As Stevenson joins the OUA, he becomes the Gaels’ fifth recruitment for next season. Looking at his time with the Spitfires where the 6’2 defensemen made his junior debut, the forward played in 188 games between postseason play and the regular season. During this three-year time frame, the 20-year-old scored seven goals and 25 assists for 32 points. With a plus/minus rating of -2 over three full seasons, Stevenson racked up as well a whopping total of 65 penalty minutes.

In a statement from the left-handed shooter after committing to the Gaels on Tuesday, Stevenson said with regards to next season, “Queen’s feels like the right fit. The location, size of the school, academics and a great hockey program.”

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Stevenson, an OHL veteran, joined the Windsor Spitfires back in 2017, just five months after having been selected 183rd overall in the draft’s 10th round. Looking at the numbers he amassed, the future Gael collected 25 assists, this totalling up to 32 points.

Seen as a two-way defender, Thomas Stevenson patrolled the Windsor blue-line with Connor Corcoran, Nathan Staios and Louka Henault. As well, he is a former teammate of Gaels forward Jaren Burke with the Senators.

Adding his presence to Queen’s, Stevenson joins the economics program looking to build on past concepts he’s worked with. Speaking with The Puck Authority on Wednesday, Stevenson said of what he’s done so far, “Yeah, so I’ve actually done a couple courses now throughout my OHL career, so I’ve done both micro and macro economics already through online, so it’s just kind of something that I’ve enjoyed, you know, throughout high school, I loved dealing with numbers, so that was kind of an interest of mine and Queen’s, you know, they’re a pretty prestigious school academics wise, so that was kind of something that I really was interested in, and then obviously, their hockey program is great, you know, great coach, so he was also a really big part of my decision, so yeah, it was a few things that kind of factored into landing in Queen’s. You know, obviously, it’s also closer to home, it’s only about two hours away, so everything just kind of added up and it seemed like the right fit for myself.”

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When discussing the elimination process, trimming down choices and landing on Queen’s, Stevenson said, “Academics was my main priority. Hockey won’t last forever, so I felt that finding a school that is known for having strong academics was my main interest. Knowing Queen’s is a prestigious school in those regards really drew my attention. Hockey was my second priority and Queen’s has a great hockey program with an outstanding coach. After many conversations, I felt really wanted there and that was great. Location wasn’t huge in my decision, but knowing that Queen’s is only two hours away from home was a bonus. So I’d say there wasn’t one exact thing that made my decision, but a bunch of different factors that definitely made Queen’s feel right for me and I couldn’t be more happy.”

As Victor Findlay reported, Thomas Stevenson is expected to be joined by fellow teammate and Windsor captain Luke Boka. Boka was the Spitfires captain for the last two years in his fourth and fifth seasons. In doing so, he led the hockey club with help from Chris Playfair and right-winger Cole Purboo.

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