PJHL Stobbs Division Preview

Dede Cato

Dede Cato and the Blenheim Blades are ready for another season – Photo by the Blenheim Blades

As we do each year, we’re taking a look at the PJHL Stobbs Divisions four Chatham-Kent teams, the Blenheim Blades, Dresden Kings, Wallaceburg Lakers, and Wheatley Sharks.

Here we go, team by team:

Blenheim Blades

The Blades made some nice acquisitions this offseason. Without their starter in net as Eric Stewardson has graduated, their new tandem will have a veteran D corps in front of them to ease the stress. The additions of Keegan MacVoy and Noah Tetrault will help solidify a deep group. The versatility of Dede Cato will be central, whether he’s used on the point or on forward, and veterans Steve Funk, Derek Hueni, and Colton Shoemaker will round out this group.

Up front, the Blades have a trio of veterans in Drew Marlatt, Nick Delyzer, and Kier Cumming, who returns after a season abroad, who can score. Their offensive depth fell off quickly last year, so continued development from their secondary scorers will be needed if they want to push the league’s top teams. Second year forward Christian Moccia will be one to watch. The team helped pad that depth in acquiring overage forward Will Tetzlaff, as well as forward Brodie Conlon from Dresden.

Last year, the Blades looked to be contenders. This year, they look to be well rounded, but with a few soft spots around the edges.

Dresden Kings

If a player is considering leaving Junior B in Southwestern Ontario, the Kings seem to be a magnet. Their scoring depth is hard to argue with. Eric Carter, Isaac McLean, Nolan VandenBoorn, Geoffry VandenBoorn, Brendan Ritchie, Brantley Kuipers, and Kenny Chisholm equals firepower. Mix in Derek Shaw, Aidan Lachine, Noah Fox, and Darien Davis, and they are deep.

The Kings blueline looks better than it has in recent memory. For years, this has been their week point – Brady Hogg, Lucas Spence, Cory Lucier, and Nolan Ross are a solid top four, but they could still add depth here. A forward conversion to the blueline is likely.

In net, Brendan Johnston is gone…at least for now. So the team brought in 16-year-old Brett Brochu, a London Knights draft pick. It’s hard to imagine riding him all season, but Brochu played almost all of his Chatham-Kent Cyclones’ games last year, so he thrives off a heavy workload. This is the most talked about position on the Kings’ roster. He enters as their starter, as Cody Hitchcock has also left the team.

Wallaceburg Lakers

Well, we’re predicting the Lakers win more than 3 games. Gutsy I know. We’ve been realistically hard on this team for years. They are trying to bring in players, and trying to be good for the community, two things which go a long way.

Travis Moore is back in net, giving them a strong number one, and Patrick Timpany is a 1A. They will have a goalie in net who is a legitimate Junior player every game this season. That’s a wonderful start.

They’re still going to struggle to score. Jacob Vancoille showed real promise last year, and a full season of veteran Austin Bentley and Noah Labonte will definitely help. But when your top returning scorer has 14-points, this is an area of concern. Rookie Sam Haight will be a welcome addition, as will Zander Wright and Myles Fraser. Once his suspension ends, Jeff Williams, who they acquired from Dresden, will give them another big bodied Junior B veteran up front. It’s an experienced group believe it or not.

On the blueline, Wallaceburg has a decent mix of returning players, who if they all continue to develop, will be a serviceable bunch. Bailey Smith, Cody Nicholaisen, and the additions of Joe Betterley and Parker Hammond will help with some veteran, albeit low offense help.

Players shunning the Lakers should look at the depth of other local teams and realize the Lakers can provide them with opportunity, and in return, the team will improve. We think the tide is about to change on this pattern of shunning the ‘Burg.

Had Wallaceburg been able to retain a few more veterans, or win the bidding for those available, this could have been a completely different year. Believe it or not, we are saying this, we think Wallaceburg is starting to move in the right direction.

Wheatley Sharks

Wheatley should have decent offensive punch with leading scorers Cole Butler, Delaney MacDonald, and Alixe Saliba, along with supporting veterans back.

Without many natural defenders on the roster, Wheatley did well acquiring Evan Prince and Braydon Davis from the powerhouse Essex 73s. Even depth defenders from Essex are core defenders for other squads.

Catalin Morin takes the reigns as full time starter in Wheatley after being a late season acquisition. Another middle of the pack year ahead for Wheatley.

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