Team adds local player in Deacon
Former midget Wildcat John Deacon, front, took part in his first practice with the Junior A Wildcats Jan. 7 after being obtained from Amherst in a trade the previous day. (John DeCoste)
With the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s trade deadline approaching on Jan. 10, the Junior A Wildcats made a couple of moves aimed at shoring up their future.
In addition, the Wildcats had a move made for them when Kingston native Grant Janes was called up to the Acadia-Bathurst Titan of the QMJHL Jan. 6 for the remainder of the season.
A member of the Atlantic champion Valley Midget Wildcats in 2012-2013 and an 11th-round selection by the Titan in the 2013 QMJHL draft, Janes was called up once already this season and returned, but this time, he is not likely to be back.
A territorial pick by the Valley squad in the MJHL draft, Janes played in 29 games for the Wildcats this season, scoring 10 goals and adding 12 assists.
According to Wildcats’ head coach and general manager Nick Greenough, his play caught the attention of the Titan brass.
“Grant’s play this season has earned him this opportunity,” Greenough said on the Wildcats’ website. “We are very pleased to see him move on to the next level.”
Meanwhile, another former Midget Wildcat has come home. The Wildcats acquired John Deacon of Port Williams in a Jan. 6 trade with Amherst.
Valley also receives the MJHL rights to Jesse Hamer, currently playing with the Newbridge Academy midget AAA team.
The Wildcats gave up 20-year-old Justin Thomas, their leading goal scorer so far this season with 17 goals, and the rights to Ryan Falkenham.
Greenough said he was “really happy” with the trade. He said of Deacon, “we know John’s pedigree and what he brings to the table, and it’s always nice to add a local player who might translate into more fans in the seats.”
And while it’s hard to trade your leading goal scorer, “the reality is, Justin has three months of hockey left, while John is looking at two years-plus.” He sees Deacon as “a top-six forward for us” going forward.
As for Hamer, who played at the recent U-17 worlds with Blade Mann-Dixon and Colby Tower of the Wildcats, Greenough is more than familiar with him as well.
“He’s a phenomenal hockey player. Last year, when we sat down to identify potential first-round draft picks, we narrowed it down to three players: Blade Mann-Dixon, Colby Tower and Jesse Hamer. Now, we have all three of them.”
Hamer, he pointed out, “wants to play major junior,” and will probably end up at a major junior camp, but if he can’t crack the lineup, or gets cut, he’s ours.”
The trade admittedly caught Deacon by surprise. “I wasn’t expecting it at all,” he said prior to practice Jan. 7, “but it’s a good move for me.”
While he is “looking forward to being back in the Valley,” at the same time, “it’s hard to say goodbye to the good friends I’ve made” in the time he spent in Amherst.
Deacon, who had four goals and five assists for Amherst, said, “I’d like to come in here put up some points” and help the Wildcats improve.
The Wildcats also announced Jan. 6 that they had traded defenseman Chris Clark to the Campbellton Tigers for a fifth-round draft pick in 2014 and a seventh-round pick in 2015.
Greenough added that Nick Bruce, currently the third-leading scorer in the NSMMHL for Cole Harbour, is also Wildcats’ property.
“We’re happy,” the coach said Jan. 7. “We think we’ve made our team better right now, and for the future as well.” He confirmed, “we’re looking at maybe adding more players” prior to the deadline.