The 2017-18 hockey season has officially moved into the second half.
As major junior and junior ‘A’ teams evaluate their prospects for end-of-season success, a number of local players will be in those discussions as they dot line-ups across both the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) and Maritime Hockey League (MHL).
As of Jan. 4, the Halifax Mooseheads lead the QMJHL in points and Antigonish’s Blade Mann-Dixon is having a solid year in goal for the ‘Moose’ with a 14-win, six-loss record.
The veteran netminder has a 2.68 goals against average (GAA) and .908 save percentage.
Also enjoying a strong season as a QMJHL goaltender is River Denys’ Colten Ellis who is a rookie with the Rimouski Océanic.
Ellis sports a 16-win and nine-loss record, with an impressive 2.26 GAA and .913 save percentage, for Rimouski who sit in second place, only a point behind Halifax.
The Cape Breton Screaming Eagles count two local players on their roster; Antigonish’s Declan Smith and Ryan MacLellan from Beaver Meadow, Antigonish County.
Now in his third season as a forward with Cape Breton, Smith has registered seven goals and 11 assists in 35 games this season.
MacLellan, a rookie defenseman, has four assists in 30 games for the Screaming Eagles, who are in 13th place in league standings.
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are enjoying a good year and currently sit in seventh place in the ‘Q.’
A rookie with the Titan this year is Upper Pomquet’s Logan Chisholm who has seven points (three goals, four assists) in 27 games.
Still in New Brunswick, Chisholm’s line-mate with the Telus Cup winning Cape Breton West Islanders last season, Jacob Hudson, is skating with the Moncton Wildcats.
A rookie forward with Moncton, the Pleasant Valley, Antigonish County native has four goals and four assists in 39 games with the 12th place Wildcats.
Antigonish’s Jake Stewart has played a few games as a call-up with the Wildcats this season, but has spent the majority of his time in Pictou County as a rookie forward with the Jr. ‘A’ Weeks Crushers.
Stewart has four goals and five assists in 24 games with the Crushers this season and sitting right above him on the Crushers’ point ledger is Antigonish’s Donovan Rehill, with five goals and five assists in 27 games.
The veteran forward is in his first season with the Crushers after previous Jr. ‘A’ stops in the Valley and Yarmouth and a year in the ‘Q’ with the Quebec Ramparts.
In the Valley now is St. Andrews defenseman Mark Kennedy who has, without doubt, experienced the most unusual first-half to a hockey season as any junior player.
Kennedy began the season with the Crushers before a trade to the southern Ontario based Wellington Dukes. That transaction was quickly followed by a trade from the Dukes to their league rival the Whitby Fury, and then back to the MHL, with the Berwick-based Wildcats.
Kennedy has recorded three goals and eight assists in 15 games with the Wildcats.
A trio of other Telus Cup winning Islanders are rookies in the MHL this season.
Cheticamp forward Logan Timmons is having a strong season with the Yarmouth Mariners, with 10 goals and eight assists in 29 games, while defenseman Keenan Gillis, from Judique, is playing with the first-place Edmundston Blizzard, where he has a goal and three assists in 29 games. Mulgrave’s Craig Ryan is playing with the Truro Bearcats where he has one goal and six assists in 24 games.
Former Islander forwards Colby Tower, from Troy, and Alex Bonaparte, from MacKinnon’s Harbour, are MHL veterans.
Tower skates with the Miramichi Timberwolves where he has 12 goals and five assists in only 17 games this season. He spent the early part of his junior hockey career playing in the QMJHL, with Cape Breton, and has also suited up with the Valley in the MHL.
Bonaparte is in his third season with the Crushers where he has three goals and six assists in 27 games.