Incoming recruits ready to play

File photo by Will Huang
File photo by Will Huang

The Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks men’s hockey team was provided with a talented recruiting class this season and a boost of confidence in net.

Head coach Greg Puhalski announced nine new recruits joining the team, including five forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender. Highlighting the recruits is goaltender Christopher Festarini.

Festarini played with the Erie Otters and the Niagara Ice Dogs in the Ontario Hockey League and the Truro Bearcats in the Maritime Hockey League.

He also captured a silver medal while representing Canada in the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge and tried out for the Montreal Canadiens rookie camp before coming to Laurier.

Last year, goaltender Vinny Merante started as a backup goaltender for third-year Duncan Long, but eventually took over as the number one goaltender.

“We were a little unstable in the goaltending position last year. We had some good games and we had some not so good games,” Puhalski said.

Puhalski said he hopes Festarini will continue to progress in the goaltender position and be able to grow as a Golden Hawk in the coming years.

He continued that he believes Festarini is going to be a solid contributor during his four years at Laurier, vying for the number one goaltender position.

The recruiting class’ three defenceman — Nick Tetley, Ryan Shepley and Matt Francyzk — are expected to add depth to Laurier’s back end.

Shepley and Francyzk both played in major junior leagues; Shepley spent three seasons in the OHL with the Ottawa 67’s and the Niagara Ice Dogs.

Francyzk played with the Steinbach Pistons of the Major Junior Hockey League in Manitoba.

Both players have the ability to jump into the play, while still staying strong on defence.

“The guys we do have are going to be real good competitors for our team,” Puhalski said.

“They are going to get a chance to play in their first year. All of them will. It’s going to be up to them to leave a mark here at Laurier.”

The incoming forwards — Patrick Chore, Erik Pushka, Justin Rasmussen, Robbie Fisher and Matt Dupont — will reportedly bring both major and junior experience to the team.

Each forward brings immense offensive talent, with Pushka coming off his best season yet and all players adding to the offensive force of the Golden Hawks.

Puhalski finally stressed that although all of the players are going to be given a chance to demonstrate their ability on the ice, nobody is guaranteed a slot on the roster.

“You’ve got to earn everything,” he said. “It’s about earning your time.”

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