The gold medal game at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Tournament featured a matchup that shouldn’t have happened.
Crusaders goalie Carter Gylander joins Tyler Yaremchuk on Inside The Cru!
As the saying goes, one man’s loss is another man’s gain, or in this case, it’s one school’s loss, is another school’s gain as Grande Prairie Storm star Zachary Okabe commits to St. Cloud State University.
Proud and honoured to announce my commitment to play college hockey at https://t.co/xpqLEt77Gm State University @SCSUHUSKIES_MH . I would like to thank my family, teammates, coaches, and friends that helped me along this journey. #gohuskies 🐾 pic.twitter.com/IhBpHkXGsR
— Zach Okabe (@zachokabe) August 10, 2018
Okabe made it official via his Twitter account earlier this evening that he’d be no longer joining the University of Vermont Catamounts, as initially planned. Instead, he’ll be taking his talents the State of Hockey and suit up for the St Cloud State Huskies of the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC).
The Huskies finished with a 25-9-6 record in 2018 and were crowned NCHC regular season champions. Their season would end after losing 4-1 to Air Force in the NCAA Regional Semi-Finals.
The Storm forward is coming off a superb rookie season in the AJHL. It took him no time to adjust to the junior hockey game scoring 10 points in his first six games. Okabe continued his fine form all season long and would wrap up his first campaign falling just short off a point-per-game average with 57 points (22 goals, 35 assists) in 58 games. He’d follow up his impressive regular season with five points in nine games during the Storm’s postseason run.
Although Grande Prairie was unable to take home any silverware as a team; Okabe filled up his trophy case nicely. First came a unanimous selection to the AJHL (North) All-Rookie team, then he was named the AJHL Rookie of the Year becoming the first Storm player to receive the award since 1998 (Blaine Bablitz), and, finally, he was nominated for the CJHL Top Rookie award which he would eventually lose out to Boston College commit Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies).
It’s pretty simple really, Okabe is an elite talent. He’s got the speed, a great shot, and reads the game exceptionally well – to name a few traits.
However, one intriguing thing about Okabe is how he’ll perform this upcoming season. Coming into Grande Prairie last season, the 2001-born was surrounded by top-level veteran offensive players with the likes of Justin Bernier, Eduoard Michaud, and Dallas Comeau all on the roster. Now, heading into this year’s campaign the group is very different. Okabe will be looked at to be “the guy” which could take a little to adjust too. We saw a similar situation with Ty Readman in Sherwood Park last season. The Crusaders had a lost the like of Tyler Maltby, Tanner Younghans, and Matt Dykstra who were all huge contributors to the team. Of course, Readman figured it out and had a successful season and earned himself a scholarship. We should expect the same from Okabe, but again it could take a little time for him to adjust.
Although nothing has been made official, yet, it should be expected that the Huskies will want Okabe at his earliest availability which would be the 2019-20 season. With that being said, if the newest member of the Huskies is coming to your town, I would highly suggest you get out and watch this kid play.
Crusaders goalie Josh Brindza joins Tyler Yaremchuk on this weeks edition of Inside The Cru! They chat about recovering from injury, the mental side of being a goalie, and even the NBA.
This week on #InsideTheCru is joined by former Crusader Tanner Younghans & talks to Spencer Love about what the team has been up to off the ice this summer.
Former Crusader Nick Jones joined Tyler Yaremchuk to chat about his career and time in Sherwood Park.
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk is joined by a pair of players looking to crack the Crusaders line up next season:
It was a quiet week in the AJHL with not much news coming out.
We had a couple of players sign letter of intents to the Saints and Canucks. And also saw the Dragons send a pair of players to the SJHL.
Here’s what went on:
On Wednesday afternoon, it was announced that 00 F Cameron Pollock-Hughes would be joining the Calgary Canucks for the 2018/19 season. Pollock-Hughes is a Calgary native who spent last season with the Calgary Flames MAAA‘s where he skated in 35 games scoring 21 points (11Gs, 10As).
The newly signed forward places a defensive style of game, but can also contribute well offensively. Back in Minor Midget, he put up 49 points (21Gs, 28As) in 37 games proving his offensive potential.
In the only trade from the past week, Brendon Borbely was brought in from the Kindersley Klippers (SJHL) in exchange for the 20-year-old brother duo of Nate and Clay Keeley.
Borbely is a 99-born defenceman who had a career year with the Klippers in 2018 scoring 12 points. Before his time in the SJHL, he spent time in the AJHL with the Lloydminster Bobcats before he was moved at the start of the 2017/18 season.
Brendon Borbely becomes the Dragons first announced signing of the offseason.
Spruce Grove Saints
The Spruce Grove Saints bring in another highly skilled offensive forward to add to their group of already top-class forwards in the form of Bruce MacGregor from the Northern Alberta Xtreme.
MacGregor spent two years with the Xtreme program scoring 60 points in 65 games with this most recent season being his best with 37 points in 35 games.
The 2001-born forward is entering the season with already a little AJHL experience under his belt. In 2018, the young offensive forward was called up to play two games for the Bonnyville Pontiacs. MacGregor faired well over his short time with the Pontiacs scoring a single point against the Whitecourt Wolverines.
If he can transfer his skill over the Junior A level, the Saints may have just found themselves another gem.
Earlier this week, Team Canada invited 40 of their top prospects to the World Junior Showcase in Kamloops.
Two of those 40 prospects are former AJHL stars Ian Mitchell (Spruce Grove Saints) and Jacob Bernard-Docker (Okotoks Oilers).
Mitchell is a Chicago Blackhawks prospect who had an excellent freshman season at the University of Denver scoring 30 points.
As for Bernard-Docker, he was recently drafted by the Ottawa Senators and will be attending the University of North Dakota next season.
Former Crusader and current AHLer Josh Healey joins Tyler Yaremchuk on #InsideTheCru
This week on #InsideTheCru Tyler Yaremchuk is joined by Blake Sydlowski, who signed a letter of intent with the Crusaders in the spring: