Kitchener, ON- As they look to the upcoming season, Wilfrid Laurier Athletics announced eleven recruits for the men’s hockey program last Monday.
Following a season that ended with a record of 13-12-2, head coach Greg Puhalski announced the additions of one goalie, three defensemen and seven forwards. Coming from across Ontario and Canada’s maritimes to pursue academics and high-level hockey, these players bring a certain skill level and talent that falls from across the spectrum.
Goaltender: Christian Propp
Starting with Christian Propp, the goaltender from Oakville joins the Laurier Golden Hawks after spending five seasons in the OHL. Drafted by the Barrie Colts back in 2015 98th overall, Propp spent two seasons in Barrie before having been traded to the North Bay Battalion. Most recently, Propp, 21, spent time with the Greyhounds and the Kingston Frontenacs.
Looking at his final statistics after five seasons played in the OHL, Christian Propp recorded a goals against average of 3.68 in 162 games played. Additionally, throughout those four seasons, Propp recorded a save percentage of .888.
DEFENSEMEN: Conor Ali, Declan Graham, Adrian Nabuurs
Looking to the Golden Hawks defensive recruits, the school brought in a pair of producers with Conor Ali atop of those charts. Ali, 21 , spent one season with Brantford in the OJHL where he scored seven goals as well as 30 assists, this being recorded through 46 games. Weighing in at 6’1, the native of Brampton also played in Sudbury as well as Kingston and Hamilton through his OHL career. Ali is part of a large cohort of Brantford 99’ers heading to U SPORTS, including Kyle Bollers and Colton Incze heading OUA West rivals in Ryerson and Guelph.
Alongside the OHL veteran, Puhalski also added Declan Graham, 21-year-old defensemen from the MJHL. Graham, an Etobicoke native, is the brother of Laurier forward Mack Graham and now reunites in Waterloo, Ontario after spending four seasons with the Steinbach Pistons.
During his time with the Pistons, Graham racked up 14 goals and 91 assists for 105 points, while adding 251 penalty minutes in 222 games. His penultimate year with the Steinbach Pistons was his statistical best of his four year Manitoba tenure.
Taking a look at last year’s numbers, Graham racked up 34 points, putting in six goals along with 28 assists. While adding on 72 penalty minutes, he managed to do in 52 games played. He was captain of the Steinbach Pistons while wrapping things up, being named top defensemen.
Wrapping up the Golden Hawks defensive corps, is Adrian Nabuurs. The Aurora native spent three seasons in the OJHL while also competing with the Newmarket Hurricanes. After being traded from Newmarket, Nabuurs completed his junior career with the Collingwood Colts.
As for the damage he did, the 20-year-old scored 48 points after netting six goals along with 42 assists. While adding on 26 penalty minutes, he managed to do in 54 games played. In terms of accolades, the Colts captain was named for his point production as an OJHL All-Star. While he was born in raised in Southern Ontario, Nabuurs has represented Lithuania four times at the youth levels.
Forwards: Nick Giunta, Nick McHugh, Caleb Rich, Devlin Shanahan, Sullivan Sparkes, Cole Waugh
Looking ahead up the ice, Laurier added on seven forwards, the first of them being Nick Giunta. Giunta, a Canadian forward, joins the Golden Hawks hockey club in Waterloo, Ontario after departing from the GOJHL where he spent one season with the Caledonia Corvairs. Prior to his lone season there, Giunta, spent three seasons playing with the Markham Royals. That became the case in its own after making his debut with the Burlington Cougars.
Speaking of that time with the Royals, the Milton, ON native played 18 games, racking up nine goals. Standing at 5’11, the Laurier commit added seven assists. While in the GOJHL, Giunta averaged a point per game pace, racking 20 goals and 30 assists in 31 games.
Following in Giunta’s footsteps, Nick McHugh, former Kitchener Ranger, also committed to the Laurier Golden Hawks. McHugh, 21-years-old, scored 20 goals and 29 assists in 28 games with the Caledonia Corvairs. Following his lone season in Caledonia, McHugh joined the OJHL, having spent the last season with the Brantford 99ers, where he played alongisde fellow Laurier commit Conor Ali. A native of Gloucester, ON, McHugh scored 11 goals along with five assists in 13 games played.
Having spent three years from 2015-2018, McHugh scored 15 goals and 52 assists in 197 games. He was then traded to the Mississauga Steelheads where the 5’11 left-winger said goodbye to the OHL. With an abundance of experience, McHugh will bring a sharp IQ to the Golden Hawks.
Joining from the MJHL is Canadian centreman Caleb Rich. He joins the Laurier Golden Hawks in the OUA after four seasons spent with the Amherst Ramblers. Prior to that, he played in the QMJHL where he played one season with the Halifax Mooseheads.
A native of Callander, Ontario, Rich departs his post as captain where he led the Amherst Ramblers in scoring. He did so with 27 goals and 51 assists in 51 games. Coming from a leadership role, Rich, much like McHugh, brings a form of point production and character to the locker room.
Closer to Waterloo region, joining the Laurier Golden Hawks from the OJHL is Devlin Shanahan. Shanahan’s, skill took a leap this past season in Mississauga where the left-winger scored 19 goals and 19 assists in 41 games. Enjoying a career year playing junior, the left-handed shooter is the nephew of Toronto Maple Leafs president and executive Brendan Shanahan. Weighing in at 6’0, this season, for the newest Golden Hawk, was his second suiting up for the Chargers.
Playing in his own backyard, Sullivan Sparkes is among eleven commits after finishing the season in the OJHL. Skating with the Trenton Golden Hawks, Sparkes played only 13 games, but during that time, averaged a point per game. Speaking to that a little bit further, the native of Waterloo racked up six goals along with eight assists. Before he joined the Trenton Golden Hawks, Sparkes, 21-years-old, spent a single season with the Pictou County Crushers.
A veteran of the MHL, Sparkes played 23 games there where he managed to rack up six goals and 22 assists. Along with 28 penalty minutes, the homegrown forward totalled 28 points. Weighing in at 5’11, Sparkes previously spent three seasons AND 100 games played with the Oshawa Generals. That of course being the case before a stint with the Islanders in the QMJHL. However, given that only lasted two seasons, that’s when he would land in the MHL.
For Sparkes, there’s an added element in joining the Golden Hawks for the upcoming season. His father, Brad, back in 1986, spent four seasons himself on the school’s men’s hockey team. As such, he scored 32 goals and 51 assists through to 1990. Because of his contribution, Sullivan’s dad, at the time, helped the program to two OUA championships before graduating from Laurier.
Another name from the OJHL finding his way to the Golden Hawks is Liam Stevens. Stevens, 21-years-old, scored 13 goals and 13 assists in 43 games with the Brantford 99ers. Stevens is joining the Golden Hawks alongside two of his Brantford teammates Conor Ali and Nick McHugh.
In the middle of that stint, Stevens also played with the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. A native of Waterdown, Ontario, Stevens, a lefty, saw time with the Hamilton Bulldogs as well as the Guelph Storm. Weighing in at 5’9, the left-winger compiled 40 points while managing to do so in 196 games. A versatile forward with experience, Stevens will surely help guide the Laurier Golden Hawks.
Last but certainly not least, the Golden Hawks welcome forward Cole Waugh. Waugh, 20-years-old, scored 32 goals and 32 assists for 64 points in 52 games played. Weighing in at 6’0, Waugh joins the Laurier hockey program while reuniting with teammate Caleb Rich.
The two played together in Amherst and will continue to grow and build while playing in Waterloo. Not only that, but the two will also reconnect with former teammate Matt Williams.
Anyways, getting back on track, Waugh’s stats soared with the Ramblers, seeing him through to being named team captain. A native of Riverview, New Brunswick, Waugh was captain each of his three years. Throughout his four MJAHL seasons, Waugh complied 60 goals and 68 assists for 128 points. Along with 80 penalty minutes, he managed to do so in 152 games.
While the goal is to make their U SPORTS debuts, the Golden Hawks, like many others, will have to wait for OUA to give clearance for a puck drop earliest on Jan.1. Until then, this is an upgrade to Laurier that reflects the school well and gives strength to the hockey program. With players from major junior having been recruited from across the country, it certainly gives way for the program to hit the top of the standings and make a run for the Queen’s Cup.
Speaking of that growth and potential, head coach Greg Puhalski said of this year’s recruiting class, “We are excited to welcome 11 great people to our program. Our team has added character student- athletes that will promote the values of our Hawk family! These individuals will be a large part of our program for years to come.”