Toronto, ON- Over the past several years, the best of Canadian university men’s hockey have been selected to take on the training camp of Hockey Canada’s World Junior team.
To go along with the Captains Cup, taking place in British Columbia between UBC, Trinity Western, and Simon Fraser, this would be the first and perhaps only taste of U SPORTS hockey that we are going to get to see, at least until the new year.
The big question now is, how do you make up a roster of U SPORTS athletes? Especially considering a fair amount of them haven’t played a competitive game since March? I don’t really have an answer to deal with that second part but the first part is what we are here this morning to take a stab at figuring out. Let’s see if we could use every program in U SPORTS and make a team worthy of facing the Canadian Junior National Team.
And yes I know there is likelihood to have the WJC team play only Alberta U SPORTS schools to save travel time and concerns but that’s less fun to write an article about.
The Ground Rules
– We are going to do 13 Forwards, 7 Defenders and 3 Goalies
– To make it more difficult only one player is allowed per U SPORTS program
– We are only including players who according to public domain, are still on their program rosters (so if they signed a pro deal they don’t count)
– These aren’t rankings so one player appearing before another does not mean I think they are more deserving of a spot
Logan Flodell – Acadia Axemen
2019-2020: 26GP | 16-7-2 | 2.79 GAA | .918SV%
The third-year Goalie for the Axemen is the first goalie on this All-Star Roster. After struggling through his rookie campaign with Acadia, Flodell took off in his sophomore year last season finishing with the best save percentage in all of AUS. His efforts were rewarded during the playoffs when Acadia’s run to the finals got them an AUS Silver and a trip to the never happened National Tournament.
Jonathon Reinhart – Windsor Lancers
2019-2020: 27GP | 17-7-3 | 2.44 GAA | .926 SV%
Jonathon Reinhart is the next goalie on this list. The now fourth-year out of Windsor has been example of constantly improving across his three years with the Lancers. Last season he hit a career high in wins and a career low GAA with Windsor and for his efforts was named OUA West Goalie of the Year and an OUA First-Team All-Star.
Rylan Toth – UBC Thunderbirds
2019-2020: 23GP | 8-10-3 | 2.78 GAA | .902SV%
I had a few options for this third goalie spot but ran into some challenges. Goalies like Sam Harvey and Rylan Parenteau would knock off any of the top scorers on UNB, most other OUA goalies with top seasons graduated this past year and I already have representatives from Calgary, Alberta, and MRU on the rosters later on so that eliminates those teams. Which brings me to UBC and Rylan Toth. Toth had a middling season for the Thunderbirds but came alive when it mattered in the playoffs. This was most apparent in the Thunderbirds upset victory over the Alberta Golden Bears in the 2020 Canada West Semifinals. In their two wins Toth stopped 91 of 94 shots to bring UBC to the Canada West Championships. On this roster Toth would be the third goalie but he has shown the ability to come up in the clutch.
Connor Blake – Mount Royal Cougars
2019-2020: 28GP | 7G | 18A | 25PTS
For the Cougars, their entry to this roster is their second-year Power Play quarterback Connor Blake. Blake not only was 1st among defenders and second among the Cougars in scoring he also led Canada West in power play points with 15 (4 Goals, 11 Assists)
Owen Headrick – UPEI Panthers
2019-2020: 30GP | 13G | 19A | 32PTS
Owen Headrick is the next defender who deserves a spot on this roster. A workhorse for the UPEI Panthers he was their number one defender in every situation last season. The results speak for themselves too, Headrick led all U SPORTS defenders in scoring with 13 Goals and was named the UPEI Male Athlete of the Year for 2019-2020.
Loik Leveille – UQTR Patriotes
2019-2020: 28GP | 9G | 14A | 23PTS
For me including Leveille is based off of his strong goal total. 9 goals among defenders puts him in 1st in the OUA and gives this roster another offensive weapon from the backend.
Santino Centorame – StFX X-Men
2019-2020: 27GP | 5G | 16A | 21PTS
Santino Centorame continues our theme of defenders who are offensive minded and crafty enough to make big plays. The former Owen Sound Attack captain really made his mark on the power play for the X-Men in 2019-2020 will all 5 of his goals coming whilst up a man. With no Cole MacDonald on the St. FX blueline should the AUS season return in 2021, more pressure with be on Centorame’s shoulders and he looks like he is up to the task.
Nikolas Brouillard – McGill
2019-2020: 28GP | 7G | 16A | 23PTS
Brouillard has been one of the strongest defenders in the OUA for the last two seasons. Teaming up with Domonic Talbot-Tassi, Brouillard has finished in the top three in scoring among OUA defenders both times. At only 5 foot 11 he joins the team as another smaller defender but his foot speed and his creativity make up for it.
Nicholas Mattinen – Ottawa Gee Gees
2019-2020: 24GP | 7G | 9A | 16PTS
Mattinen adds a couple elements to the blueline of this roster. Firstly he is massive compared to the rest of the team coming in at 6 feet 5 inches. In his first season with the Gee-Gees he demonstrated both offensive strength (including leading the Gee-Gees in scoring on their run to the Queen’s Cup Final) and a solid two way game as he paired with Dominic Cormier on the top pair for the Gee Gees. A chance to play on a national stage would be a fitting reward for the former Toronto Maple Leafs draft pick’s growth.
Jordan Sambrook – Brock Badgers
2019-2020: 28GP | 5G | 14A | 19TS
How much longer Sambrook remains a member of the Badgers hockey program remains to be seen as he has openly expressed an interest at signing a pro deal should one be available but it is clear the longer he is with the Badgers the better it is for them. The strong 6 foot 3 defender came to Brock from the Soo Greyhounds of the OHL and quickly became the focal point of the Brock offense. At 19 points he tied Christian Girhiny for the lead on the roster. On the U SPORTS all-star roster Sambrook would be likely the slowest defender on the roster but his strong shot and much improved defensive IQ help make up for the foot speed he is constantly working on improving.
Keith Getson – Saint Mary’s Huskies
2019-2020: 30GP | 14G | 13A | 27PTS
Keith Getson is the first forward we are going to add to this roster. As a freshman, the forward for the St Mary’s Huskies, Getson had a strong season but was an absolute menace on the power play potting 8 goals, 2nd most in all of AUS.
David Thomson – Toronto Varsity Blues
2019-2020: 27GP | 17G | 23A | 40PTS
The Blues had a very dissapointing end to their 2019-2020 season being upset in the 1st round by the Western Mustangs but it was not the fault of Thomson who had an incredible season in the blue and white. Thomson finished 2nd in the OUA in scoring and for his amazing season won OUA West division MVP, was an OUA West first team all-star, a U SPORTS first team all-Canadian, the U of T T-Holders’ male athlete of the year and was the OUA male athlete of the year. The trophy case alone earns him a spot on the roster.
Franco Sproveiro – Western Mustangs
2019-2020: 24GP | 15G | 19A | 34PTS
The OUA’s top scorer among rookies earns the next spot on the roster. Sproveiro came to Western and instantly became an offensive powerhouse scoring in back to back games and picking up points in his first seven. He ultimately led OUA rookies in scoring and finished in the 2nd overall in power play goals with six tallies.
Matt Alfaro – Calgary Dinos
2019-2020: 27GP | 15G | 21A | 36PTS
The first name from Canada West on this roster has to be the Dinos Matt Alfaro. The fourth-year Business student was dominate on the offensive end last season winning the scoring race with 36 points. A point to note is that Alfaro also picked up a pair of short handed goals showing off his offensive ability not just at 5 on 5 and up a man but down one as well.
Grayson Pawlenchuk – Alberta Golden Bears
2019-2020: 28GP | 18G | 17A | 35PTS
Pawlenchuk is another example of a player for whom 2019-2020 was a breakout year. The former Red Deer Rebel had a great second season in gold leading Canada West in scoring with 18 goals and if you want to account for his defensive abilities, finishing the highest among Canada West forwards in +/- at +25. He already has experience as a U SPORTS All-Star too as he was selected last season to take on the Canada Junior Team in advance of the 2020 World Juniors.
Chris Paquette – RMC Paladins
2019-2020: 28GP | 15G | 17A | 32PTS
Chris Paquette truly deserves to be honoured for his incredible season with the Paladins. Not only did he lead the team in scoring across the season, but as the Paladins were fighting for 8th seed in the OUA East he potted a pair of goals in a key February win over the Ottawa Gee Gees to solidify their spot. For his amazing season Paquette cleaned up on OUA hardware winning OUA East MVP, OUA East Rookie of the Year, and was named an OUA East First Team All-Star, and a member of the OUA East All-Rookie Team.
Alexandre Goulet – UNB Reds
2019-2020: 29GP | 17G | 17A | 34PTS
I know you are probably thinking, “Not Tyler Boland?” My philosophy with this choice is rewarding the growth that Goulet had in 2019-2020. From the previous season he more than doubled his point and goal totals on the Reds as he took on the mantle of being the 3rd offensive option behind Boland and Kris Bennett and ran with it. He was not the top Red in 2019-2020 but he had the best year over year improvement.
Note: After publishing we were informed that Max St-Cyr has actually signed a pro contract in Slovakia and is no longer a part of the Moncton program.
Maxime St-Cyr – Moncton Aigles Bleus
2019-2020: 30GP | 20G | 20A | 40PTS
Max St-Cyr has been Moncton’s offense for the better part of the past two seasons. Since the start of the 2018-2019 season almost a quarter of all goals scored by Moncton have come off the stick of St-Cyr (43). Giving him a spot on the U SPORTS All-Star team should be a given as his 8 power play goals would join perhaps the most lethal two sets of power play combos that U SPORTS has ever seen.
Jared Dmytriw – Saskatchewan Huskies
2019-2020: 28GP | 10G | 18A | 28PTS
Dmytriw is another in a long line of solid offensive standouts from Canada West in 2019-2020. In his rookie season with the Huskies Dmytriw quickly became vital to their offense, picking up points in all three facets including 2 goals and 2 assists whilst shorthanded. Dmytriw just adds to the strong offense up front on this roster whilst also having some versatility to his game in his ability to kill penalties.
Daniel Del Paggio – Lakehead Thunderwolves
2019-2020: 28GP | 11G | 22A | 33PTS
Del Paggio has just quietly been really successful for the Lakehead Thunderwolves. Across three seasons in Thunder Bay he has increased his goal and assist total in each year. This past season he finished top 10 in the province in scoring with 33 points. He also showed of the very important skill of the ability to restrain as his minuscule 6 PIM helped him to win OUA West Most Sportsmanlike Athlete of the Year.
Mathew Santos – Ryerson Rams
2019-2020: 28GP | 15G | 21A | 36 PTS
Mathew Santos is about as offensive-minded as it gets. The former product of the Toledo Walleye of the ECHL and North Bay of the OHL came to Ryerson and his two season just has not stopped putting up points. 79 points in 54 games to be exact. This past season as Ryerson was slow out of the gate Santos was doing his best to carry them through it picking up 3 goals and 5 assists in the first 7 games when the Rams went 3-2-2.
Austin Eastman – Ontario Tech Ridgebacks
2019-2020: 28GP | 14G | 16A | 30PTS
Austin Eastman gets a nod on behalf of the under recognized Ontario Tech Ridgebacks hockey program. The Ridgebacks have never been the best in the OUA but they have always put together strong teams (goalie Lief Hertz was my second pick for a goalie from the OUA). Eastman had a strong second season in blue and orange, he doubled his point total and finished with the lowest penalty minutes of the top 50 point scorers in the OUA. For his great year he was given OUA East First All-Star Team Honours and the OUA East Most Sportsmanlike Athlete award.
Giordano Finoro – Guelph Gryphons
2019-2020: 26GP | 13G | 11A | 24PTS
Finoro may seem like a peculiar choice for this roster, seeing as finished 5th in scoring on the Queen’s Cup champion Gryphons. When you step back though the situation in Guelph currenlty means that he will have a major role when the season returns in 2021. Mikel Aagaard left before the playoffs, Todd Winder and Ryan Valentini signed pro deals and Marc Stevens graduated. It leaves a Gryphons offense in need of veteran leadership and Finoro will be that guy. Right now though what Finoro is, is a full 200-foot player who can contribute defensively and has the ability to create his own offense. In a team with a lot of non-stop offense like this one, a player who has that ability but across 200 feet rather than in one zone is a major plus.
So that is my 2020 U SPORTS All-Star Roster that would challenge the Canadian Junior National Team this November. What do you think? Did I make the right picks? Are there teams that deserve more than one entrant? Did I miss a player who would be deserving entirely? Let me know what you think.