Last year’s starting goalie, Darien Ekblad will return between the pipes for Chatham, but he will be set to mentor rookie underage goalie Brendan Johnston, who impressed the Windsor Spitfires in their training camp and exhibition this year. A fifth round pick of the Spitfires, Johnston played for the Chatham-Kent Cyclones Minor Midget ‘AAA’ last year. Scott Tricker, last years backup, has been in the lineup with the Essex 73s of the Great Lakes Junior C loop this preseason.
On defense, the Maroons return all-star Steven Szekesy, who will be relied upon to quarterback Chatham’s powerplay after scoring 43 points last season, the second most among returning players. Chatham’s Nate Pietens, Wallaceburg’s Ben Pataki, and Blenheim’s Blayne Oliver also return as veterans on the blueline. The Maroons will also welcome Junior B veteran Connor Annett, who followed new Chatham head coach Mark Davis from the Lambton Shores Predators.
For rookies on the blueline, Chatham has brought in a trio of Junior C defenseman, a ploy coach and general manager Mark Davis found success with in Lambton Shores. John Montgomery, a CKSS student, will being offensive flare to the blueline, as the smooth skating defender often joins the rush. Chatham has also signed Devin Shannon and Connor McKinnon who played for the Kingsville Comets and Alvinston Flyers respectively.
Up front, leading scorer and new captain Michael Verboom headlines the forwards. He’ll find support from fellow returnees Trevor Richardson, Brayden Hopkins, Eric Palazzolo, Ian Faubert, Connor Doran, and Michael Levesque. After a trade with the Lambton Shores Predators in the days leading up to the season, Chatham can also rely on heavy production from GOJHL All-Star Kyle Brothers, who came over to the Maroons in exchange for Jay Ritchie and Steven Beenackers. Brothers scored 74 points last season with Lambton Shores, and can be counted on for a similar campaign this year. Older rookie forwards include Mark Fratarcangeli, who played with the Kingsville Comets, and Matt Kenney, who suited up for the London Midget ‘AAA’ Jr. Knights.
The Maroons will also have two 16-year-old forwards. Hometown prospect James McEwan, who was a draft pick of the Guelph Storm, and played for the Chatham Cyclones last season, had the ability to break open a game single handedly in Minor Midget last season, and posesses a booming shot. Verbeek comes from the Sun County Panthers ‘AAA’ system, and was a fourth round pick of the Soo Greyhounds.
Chatham opens their regular season Sunday at Memorial Arena at 7pm, hosting the London Nationals.