So I lied.... last week's Tuesday Morning Skate wasn't actually the last one of 2016. But whatever. I figured with all the info I've compiled while in Blainville, it was enough to constitute another edition, albeit a different one. The Christmas break is an odd time for U Sports hockey. Some teams are ravenously searching for another addition to their roster, while others rather not be part of the ruckus at all, unless a player falls right into their lap. There's still a few quality players available, some of which have already been scooped up. So put down your notes and take a study break, it's been a busy few days in U Sports hockey.
Canada: 5 U Sports: 3
Goals (CAN): Dylan Strome, Taylor Raddysh, Sam Steel, Mitchell Stephens, Sam Steel (2)
Goals (U Sports): Philippe Maillet, Brett Welychka, Nathan Chiarlitti
Goalies (CAN): Carter Hart, 10 S 10 SVS; Michael McNiven, 13 S 10 SVS
Goalies (U Sports): Connor Ingram, 29 S 24 SVS
1. Sam Steel, Team Canada (2-0-2)
2. Philippe Maillet - U Sports (1-1-2)
3. Elgin Pearce - U Sports (0-2-2)
Game Length: 2:07
1. The SMU Huskies have a commitment and enrollment from Aaron Berisha for second semester. That's about as official as it can get before a player hits the ice in U Sports. Berisha was a fairly big deal during his days as a Toronto Marlboro, taking the OHL Cup MVP honours in 2011 on a team with Nick Ritchie, Roland McKeown, and Josh Ho-Sang among others. Berisha posted an impressive 45 goals last year on a stacked London Knights team, and although the talent level isn't the same at SMU, they're a deep offensive team. Playing alongside Hunter Garlent or Ben Duffy could go a long way in seeing Berisha put up big goal numbers not just this year, but for seasons to come.
2. Ever since Jason Fram was released from his contract last week, it's been a general assumption that he is destined to play at the University of Alberta in second semester. When I spoke with a source at the U of A, he did acknowledge that "there is a good chance he ends up with us", but clearly it isn't a done deal just yet. Assuming things do pan out that way, Fram joins an notoriously deep Alberta team, and should be able to pencil right in as an impact player. Fram may be the type of defenceman who gets better with time, but as is the case with most teams, Alberta won't say no at an opportunity to make themselves better right now. Also worth noting defenceman Nick Charif is set to become eligible in January for Alberta.
3. The Alberta Golden Bears have reportedly landed forward Cole Sanford from the ECHL's Colorado Eagles. This is another humungous add for the Golden Bears who bring in another WHL player to have surpassed the 90-point plateau. Sanford isn't a large player at just 5-foot-8, but the impact he can have on any given game is giant. With both Jason Fram and Sanford in the lineup for second semester, the Alberta Golden Bears are changing the balance in Canada West, and will give the Saskatchewan Huskies all they can handle and more.
4. It's a fairly rare occurence to see a second round NHL draft pick appear on a U Sports roster, but Lukas Sutter (Winnipeg Jets) and Peter Delmas (Colorado Avalanche) are both recent examples of those who have. Gabryel Boudreau may be the next in line, as after being released by the ECHL's Cincinnati Cyclones last week, he's garnering a large amount of U Sports interest. It's hard to imagine UQTR isn't in the chase, as Boudreau seems to fit the Patriotes mold to a tee. But it's also not hard to picture an AUS team taking a good swing at Boudreau. Some teams with roster cap space and the resources to attract Boudreau will like his upside as a guy who can immediately produce when healthy.
5. The Moncton Aigles Bleus announced their signing of forward Joey Richard for the 2017-18 season. Richard was originally a Saint John Sea Dogs draft pick back in 2013, and went on to play 25 games with Saint John in 2013-14. Richard spent the next two seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques and Moncton Wildcats before landing in the MJAHL with the Dieppe Commandos this year. Richard didn't score much in the QMJHL, but he's having a great season in Dieppe thus far, leading the team with 38 points through 27 games so far. Moncton hopes to find similar success with Richard that they've had with Robbie Graham, a recruit from Dieppe back in 2015.
6. The Concordia Stingers have made a big splash in acquiring the services of Anthony Beauregard for second semester. When I spoke with Concordia head coach Marc-Andre Element a few weeks ago, it seemed as though he was expecting that Beauregard would wind up staying pro. Clearly things have changed in that time span, as the Concordia Stingers now have another lethal offensive threat who is just a season removed from 93 points in the QMJHL with Val-d'Or. Expect the Concordia Stingers to be even better in 2017 with the addition of Mickael Beauregard on the blueline, as well as Marc-Antoine Turcotte in net.
7. As I was told this week, Jackson Houck has committed to staying pro for the rest of the season. However, another great WHL product in Jaedon Descheneau remains interested in U Sports hockey. The list of teams he is legitimately interested in is fairly small, and not entirely comprised of Canada West schools. With the University of Alberta supposedly not in on Descheneau, the recruitment battle is wide open.
8. Over about the last month or there have been rumblings about OUA Conference realignment. There's not much to report yet, other than the fact that it is being talked about in OUA circles. Most people tend to think it could mean more games against teams in close proximity (i.e. Carleton vs Ottawa, Toronto vs Ryerson), and may also end up meaning a few less long road trips throughout the course of a season. It's an interesting thought with a number of possibilities, and something that may not be too far ahead of the OUA's future.