TRURO – The Truro Bearcats were able to bolster their firepower Wednesday ahead of today’s junior hockey trade deadline.
Alex Hazelhurst joined the Bearcats (21-6-0-3)) Wednesday after being cut loose by the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix. The 18-year-old Halifax native was Truro’s first-round pick, eighth overall, in the 2011 draft and dressed for Wednesday’s tilt in Amherst.
“When you pick guys in the first round, it’s always exciting to add them to your team,” Bearcats general manager Shawn Evans said. “He’s still a young player but if we surround him with a veteran presence, which were going to do, we know he can help us for sure.”
The Bearcats had hoped to have the five-foot-10, 160-pound centre in the lineup at the start of the season but Hazlehurst cracked the Sherbrooke lineup out of training camp. Since then he’s collected four points (2G, 2A) in 23 games with limited ice time.
“They’re looking to finalize their rosters too and he got squeezed out and we were ready for him,” Evans said.
Evans has been looking to strengthen the Bearcats package up front as his team has fallen on hard times offensively. It’s a problem not many could have predicted as the Bearcats tore out of the gate with a 17-game unbeaten streak in regulation to start the season.
Since then, Truro has won just five of its past 13 games before Wednesday’s date with the Ramblers, slipping from the lead in the EastLink Division to trailing the Yarmouth Mariners (25-5-1-0) by six points. The skid has also knocked the Bearcats from their top three ranking nationally to seventh spot.
Evans said he feels Hazelhurst will help alleviate that problem.
“He’s a centre and we’re short at that position,” Evans said. “He’s a kid that’s really fast, has a lot of speed.”
Hazlehurst is a graduate of the major midget Halifax Titans, where he finished second in the league in regular season scoring last year with 49 points (18G, 31A) in 32 games. He also led the league in playoff scoring with 22 points (9G, 13A) in 12 games.
“He’s a really good kid and a good hockey player,” Evans said. “We don’t expect him to lead the charge but we feel he’s going to help us be better.”