Draft day

Bearcats lay in wait as draft approaches, Rath named league co-chairmen

Ryan Cooke newsroom@journalpioneer.com
Published on June 13, 2014

Shawn Evans, head coach and general manager of the Truro Bearcats, was busy Friday with the league’s annual general managers’ meetings. While other GMs look to wheel and deal, Evans has no drastic plans. The Cats will select with the last pick of the first round in today’s draft, a small penance for winning the league last season.

File photo

SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – The Truro Bearcats may have to wait longer than anyone else to pick a player in today’s draft, but it’s something the team is fine with.

The Cats will draft with the 12th and final pick in the first round, a small price to pay after winning the Maritime Junior A Hockey League title last season.

Head coach and general manager, Shawn Evans, is prepared to wait his turn.

“You have to be patient and hope you get your player, but you have to remember why you’re picking last, too,” he said. “You like to pick 12th because it means you had a good season. We’re OK with that.”

Evans said he and his staff have a player in mind, but understand the consequences of picking last.

“We have an idea (who we want), but when you’re picking last you have to wait your turn and see what remains once you get there.”

With 14 returning players next season, there’s reason to believe the Bearcats can continue the solid play they’ve shown the last two seasons, as defending league champs and 2013 Fred Page Cup champs. Gone, however, are three of the last year’s four captains – Phillip Fife, Mitchell Robillard and Daniel Poliziani.

Despite the personnel changes, Evans isn’t looking to replace anyone during a weekend where GMs usually shake things up.

“I don’t expect to do a whole lot here this weekend except to pick some new possible Bearcats down the road,” he said. “I don’t have a lot on my plate. It’s not my style.”

That said, if anyone comes knocking, Evans would be willing to listen, he said.

After losing seven players to age, the Bearcats also lost Curtis Hastings to the St. Stephen County Aces in the expansion draft this week. Hastings, a small but quick forward, was the leading scorer in the New Brunswick-P.E.I. Major Midget League last season. He had not yet suited up for the Cats.

“It was tough to lose a player of his caliber,” Evans said. “He’s a good hockey player, but that’s part of the expansion draft.”

The Aces opted to pass on taking a second player from the Bearcats, which ensured the team didn’t lose any roster players.

“My main goal was to make sure the players I was 100 per cent counting on for next season would be on board. That mission was accomplished.”

The Bearcats hold their own picks in rounds one, as well as three through 10. The Cats second-round pick was traded to Dieppe in the deal that brought in rearguard Adam Guy in 2012. The team also has an extra seventh-rounder from its deadline deal for Brandon Boutillier with the Valley Wildcats.

In other news from the annual meetings taking place in Summerside, P.E.I., this weekend, Bearcats owner Stu Rath was named interim co-chairman of the MHL. Rath will hold the position along with Graham Baxter of the Valley Wildcats. The position will be reviewed again in August, and a full-time selection will be made.

The draft will take place today at 1 p.m. at Credit Union Place. Following the draft, the winners of the league’s top coach and executive, as well as the Moe Bent Builders Award, will be named.