TORONTO, ON – The AUS may have played almost double the games as the OUA, but all three conferences in U SPORTS have written the final chapter of the brief 2021 portion of the 2021-22 season. With the fall semester in the books, 49 Sports has selected a Fall Season All-Star Team.
We have selected the Top 12 forwards, six defensemen, and three goaltenders for the All-Star Team. While that fills a regular game lineup, we have not considered each player’s individual positions.
Without further ado, the Fall Season U SPORTS All-Star Team.
Our forward group features an immense mix of veterans, rookies and players who may have not found themselves in this conversation in years past. The Mount Royal Cougars and UNB Reds are the only programs with two players in the forward ranks, while the AUS players lead the way with five combined through a trio of teams.
StFX’s Liam Hawel and Dalhousie’s Derek Gentile have settled in perfectly to AUS hockey so far this season after stellar careers in the Ontario Hockey League and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, respectively.
The rookies are 1-2 in AUS scoring, with Hawel in first, potting 15 goals and 30 points in his first 18 games at the U SPORTS level. Gentile, playing on a lower-ranked team in Halifax, is just three assists behind his counterpart. One of these two is likely taking home the AUS Rookie of the Year. Meanwhile, the 2019-20 award winner, Mitch Balmas, is also on the All-Star team.
In the OUA, rookies have also taken the ice by storm. Kyle Bollers has single-handily dragged the Rams back into playoff contention with his clutch play and well-timed goalscoring after his team’s slow start. Queen’s Gaels forward Holden Katzalay might be second on his team in scoring, but his seven goals and ten assists in nine games earn the former Vancouver Giant a spot on the team.
Two Mount Royal Cougars lead the Canada West contingent, with Riley Sawchuk and Nolan Yaremko finding their way onto the team after stellar starts to their seasons. The two rank 1-2 in scoring, and although the Cougars haven’t been able to find as many wins as they would have hoped, the duo have showcased their elite shots to earn a spot on the team.
The rest of the forwards can be found at the top of this section.
A defender’s job is to keep the puck away from the goal as much as possible and contribute to the offence when they can. The six blueliners selected for the Fall All-Star team can do just that, playing integral roles on some of the country’s most stingy defence cores while also chipping in on the scoresheet.
The UBC Thunderbirds sit atop the Canada West standings at the end of the fall season, and no defender has meant more than Jonathan Smart. A former WHLer and BCHLer, Smart has helped the T-Birds to the best defensive record in Canada West while adding four goals and 13 points himself.
Joining Smart among Canada West selections are Alberta’s Dylan Plouffe and Saskatchewan’s Connor Hobbs. The Golden Bears are the only team to have gotten past UBC this season, and Plouffe played a critical part in both games. While none of his eight shots against UBC found the goal, he has 12 points in 12 games this season.
Connor Hobbs should be wearing the maple leaf representing Canada at the Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade right now. Instead, he’s home for the holidays. However, the former Washington Capitals prospect is thriving under new Huskies Head Coach Mike Babcock, earning himself a spot on the All-Star roster.
From the AUS, Acadia’s defensive stalwart Garrett McFadden has put together a memorable campaign in a year that has been anything but for the Axemen. While Acadia sits second-last in the conference, McFadden has stepped up in the wake of injuries to keep his team in games each week. He was also selected to represent Canada in Lucerne.
Like Hobbs and McFadden, Owen Headrick earned the call to represent Canada this December at the Lucerne 2021 games. In his third year with the UPEI Panthers, Headrick is raising eyebrows from coast-to-coast, playing a significant role in the Panthers’ success and recent win against the UNB Reds, albeit a shorthanded Reds team.
The entire defensive group can be seen at the top of this section.
Step one, get by the forwards. Step two, get by the defenders. Once you’ve done that, the goalie is the last line of defence, and these three have made sure their teams are safe at the back so far this season. The trio that makes our cut are UNB’s Rylan Parenteau, UBC’s Rylan Toth and Windsor’s Noah Giesbrecht.
Parenteau has not had a ton of work to do this season, playing on a UNB Reds team that is leaps and bounds above the rest of the AUS in their end. However, with so many injures plaguing the Reds of late, the third year from Saskatchewan has kept them in games. Like others on this list, he should be representing Canada at the cancelled Lucerne 2021 Winter Universiade.
UBC’s Rylan Toth is the second Rylan to crack the list, but he has debatably been the MVP of the U SPORTS season so far. With the T-Birds atop the Canada West standings, Toth has allowed a Canada West low of 1.62 goals per game on a stingy UBC team. However, he has made 306 saves, the second-most in the conference. The T-Birds rode his hot hand to the U CUP quarterfinals in 2019-20 and could very well find themselves back there in March 2021.
The Windsor Lancers have burst into OUA contention this season with rookie goaltender Noah Giesbrecht. Playing in a division with the defending Queen’s Cup champion Guelph Gryphons and a strong Waterloo team, Giesbrecht was thrown into the fire, and he’s thriving. He has played eight games this season, the most in the OUA tied with McGill’s Alexis Shank while boasting a .941 save percentage.
All three of these goaltenders have put in stellar performances this season and are playing significant roles in their program’s continued success.
49 SPORTS FALL 2021 ALL-STAR MHKY TEAM
- Nolan Yaremko – MRU
- Riley Sawchuk – MRU
- Conner Chaulk – Regina
- Liam Hawel – StFX
- Derek Gentile – Dalhousie
- Mitch Balmas – SMU
- Nicolas Guay – UNB
- Tyler Boland – UNB
- Kyle Bollers – Ryerson
- Christian Girhiny – Brock
- Holden Katzalay- Queen’s
- Oliver Castleman – Carleton
- Jonathan Smart – UBC
- Dylan Plouffe – ALB
- Connor Hobbs – Sask
- Justin Bergeron – UQTR
- Owen Headrick – UPEI
- Garrett McFadden – Acadia
- Rylan Toth – UBC
- Rylan Parenteau – UNB
- Noah Giesbrecht – Windsor