TRURO, N.S. – The Truro Bearcats’ roster received a major boost this week.
Five players – forwards G Blackmore and Gavin Hart, defencemen Curtis Heffernan and Jack McGovern and goaltender Alec MacDonald – were released by Quebec major junior league teams and re-assigned to the Bearcats.
“You’re always happy for the Bearcats, but you’re disappointed for those individual guys,” said Bearcats coach and GM Shawn Evans. “I was a player a long time ago and I know the feeling and I know they’re disappointed, but it looks like they’re turning the page, and really, as a hockey player, that’s all you can do.”
Blackmore spent the 2017-18 season with the Moncton Wildcats. Prior to major junior, the 18-year-old from Millbrook tore up the Nova Scotia major midget league with 75 points in 28 games while earning league MVP honours in 2016-17. The Bearcats, who made Blackmore a territorial pick in 2016, added him to the roster during their playoff run two years ago, and he responded with 14 points in 15 playoff games.
“I’m surprised that he’s back,” said Evans. “We’re really glad to have him; he’s going to be a leader on our team, I expect a lot from him. We’re still here to help him get better and if other opportunities arise down the road for him, then that’s really what we’re here for.”
Hart, a forward from Bible Hill, attended his second training camp with the Halifax Mooseheads and was among the team’s final cuts on Wednesday. The 17-year-old will be a key player for the Bearcats, coming off a rookie season in which he led all first-year Truro players with 10 goals and 18 assists.
“Now Gavin needs to take the next step,” said Evans. “He’s another guy, if he aspires to move along, so to speak, he needs to have a good start to his season and keep getting better.”
MacDonald, a 18-year-old from Truro, played in seven major junior games with Wildcats during the past two seasons. He played last year for the Bearcats as a backup to Kevin Resop, and is expected to share the crease this season with 20-year-old Myles Hektor.
“Technically, I’d said Hektor is here to be the starter, but I have lots of confidence in Alec,” said Evans. “It’s the same for both of them – when you get in the net, play good.
“To me, we have two really good, solid goaltenders. That’s not an area of concern a week into training camp.”
The return of Heffernan and McGovern – both second-year players – from the Mooseheads will help bolster a Bearcats defence that’s in need of help after graduating four blueliners at the completion of last season.
“Jack and Curtis are going to be heavily relied on,” Evans said.
The Bearcats opened training camp last weekend with 40 players. Thirty-two remain in camp and Evans is expected to make another round of cuts following Saturday’s pre-season game against the Valley Wildcats (RECC, 7 p.m.).
“It’s one of the best camps in years, to be honest,” said Evans. “The group of kids who are here, there seems to be no pecking order; the veteran guys seem to be very respectful of the players that are new that are trying to be Bearcats and it’s been highly competitive, and I enjoy it.”