Observations from Around the Rink – Flying Under the Radar
Posted on December 18, 2022
After a week-long hiatus from hockey arenas province-wide (attended my MBA convocation in Florida, subtle flex), I’m back in the cold barns and commenting on things going on in and around them. That said, this article features numerous players who are playing in Junior Hockey barns across the Great White North.
F.U.T.R (acronym for ‘flying under the radar) Player #1 – Dekon Randell-Snow. The ’04 born Hawkesbury Hawks netminder has been flying under the radar for many years now, but it is not his fault. The 2004 age group in NL was known for its goaltending depth; Riley Mercer has sniffed the NHL level, Cruz Loughlin suited up in the QMJHL at one point in time, and Mitchell Dinn was no slouch. After multiple seasons of prep hockey at the Ontario Hockey Academy and Rothesay Netherwood (3 at OHA, 1 at RNS), the former late round Baie Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL) draft choice was signed by the Hawkesbury Hawks (CCHL) this past summer. Snow has played well for the Hawks, posting a sparkling .919 Save Pct in his rookie season and has better numbers than crease mate Dimitri Pelekos so far. Snow stopped 27 of 28 against the Cornwall Colts on Friday night, enough to earn him first star of the game. The last NL-born goaltender to play on the southeastern banks of the Ottawa River for the Hawks was Doug Jewer, who parlayed his time in the CCHL into a stint at the NCAA Division-I level.
F.U.T.R Player #2 – Liam Healy. Sticking with a goalies theme here this morning, Eastern Thunder U13AAA goaltender Liam Healy flew under the radar so much last season that he was not selected for U13AA hockey. Healy has responded in a big way since then; Healy and crease mate Parker Jones have assisted the Thunder to a solid 11-3-1 record so far, with Healy taking home the Edd Mcneil Tournament Top Goalie Award in Summerside, PE recently. The U13AAA Male circuit is going to come down to one game this spring, and I would not want to be facing Liam Healy in a one-game, winner-take-all scenario if he gets the start in such a game.
F.U.T.R Player #3 – Molly Gill. Coaching U13 hockey last year, I recall looking on the ice and seeing Gill wearing the stripes of an official vs the stripes of the Eastern Ice Breakers. Gill was flying so far under the radar that I thought she had quit playing and was focusing on officiating full-time. Gill had always been a strong ’05 female player, and was a key contributor on a female team that I had coached in Quebec City multiple years prior. After that tournament in Quebec, Gill seemed to go on the missing list. I did not see her name on any Female AAA rosters, or on any male rosters either (that said, we had 2 seasons washed out with COVID-19). Fast forward to 2022-23 – the CBS, NL native is having a big season for the U18AAA Female Eastern Ice Breakers. Gill cracked the Team NL Canada Winter Games team this fall, and if I was a betting man (I can’t find official league stats, if someone has them please confirm), Gill is probably leading the U18AAA Female League in assists. Gill draws a lot of attention and moves the puck at the right time to her dangerous line mates (Haley Ryan and Abby Fleet); Gill has a relentless motor and is solid on the boards in her own zone. Personally, I think Gill can play USPORT hockey and – knowing how good of an athlete she is – I bet her best playing years are in front of her.
F.U.T.R Player #4 – Nathan Kelly. The 20-year-old forward from Paradise is quietly having himself a season for the Fredericton Red Wings of the Maritime Hockey League. Kelly is a 4-year MHL veteran but has never eclipsed the 1.00 PPG plateau until this season; his 9 goals and 27 apples in just 21 games represents a huge spike in output. Kelly has always been a reliable two-way player, and with numbers like this in his final Junior-A season, a USPORT or NCAA DIV-3 team(s) are likely to come calling.
Come to think of it, the entire 2002 NL class has flown under the radar. This is likely because 2002 was sandwiched between the greatest age group in provincial history (2001 – Newhook, Mercer, Rumsey, Budgell et al) and the star-studded ’03 class (Greene, Dean, Abby Newhook, Shortall, et al).
VHG Off-Island Player/Coach Tracker (all-time) – – https://vhghockey.ca/vhg-off-island-player-tracker-all-time/
Dawson Mercer Highlight Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1miITN24Ohg