Bearcats add veteran forward

Joey Smith webcomments@ngnews.ca
Published on January 4, 2017

The Truro Bearcats have added veteran forward Nic Blanchard to their roster after a trade with the Valley Wildcats.

©Jennifer Vardy-Little/TC Media

TRURO, N.S. – Shawn Evans made an uncharacteristic move on Wednesday in an effort to improve his hockey club.

The head coach and general manager of the Truro Bearcats swung a blockbuster deal, sending four players and a draft pick to the Valley Wildcats in exchange for veteran forward Nic Blanchard.

“I wasn’t dipping my toe in,” said Evans. “If I was going to do something I was gonna go for a swim.”

And with that, Evans made a big splash less than a week away from the Jan. 10 deadline for finalizing rosters in the Maritime Junior Hockey League.

Going to the Wildcats are forwards James Locke, Johnny Foley, Matt Greene and goaltender Jacob Stewart, along with a 2018 third-round draft pick (obtained from Pictou County last summer).

Locke is the only player in the trade who was playing for the Bearcats. Foley (Charlottetown), Green (Saint John) and Stewart (Blainville-Boisbriand) are playing in the Quebec major junior league.

Nic Blanchard
Matt Little photo

The trade comes as a surprise, as Evans is known as a conservative GM not usually willing to part with young talent for short-term gains.

Blanchard, however, is worth the price, he said.

“If we were going to make a move like this, we wanted what we felt was the best player available, and we thought that Nic is that player.”

Blanchard played three seasons in the Q-league with Acadie-Bathurst – last year as an assistant captain – before joining his hometown Wildcats this season. The six-foot, 185-pound winger led the Wildcats in scoring with 15 goals and 20 assists in 32 games.

“He brings it all. He plays in all the situations,” Evans said. “On paper he gives our lineup a lot of respect and a lot of experience.”

Evans is familiar with Blanchard, having coached him in November at the Eastern Canada Cup tournament in Cornwall, Ont.

Blanchard, who tallied 67 points in 184 career QMJHL games, will make his debut for the Bearcats on Friday against the Mariners in Yarmouth. He’s expected to play on a line with fellow 20-year-olds and former major junior players Kyle Tibbo and Zach Moody.

“We’re top heavy on 20 year olds … and I wanted to give that group a little extra boost to see what we can do with the rest of our season,” Evans said.

The Bearcats (17-9-1-1) are tied for third in the Eastlink South Division with the Amherst Ramblers, just five points behind the second-place Mariners and six back of the league-leading Pictou County Crushers with 20 regular-season games remaining.

“I won’t go out on a limb and say we’re going for the cup, but I will say we wanted to improve our team and we have done that,” said Evans.

The Bearcats next home game is Saturday against the St. Stephen Aces (RECC, 7 p.m.).