Griffs have a young team for the 2016-17 season

By Sam Brouwere

Sports Reporter

The Griffs’ hockey team will have new faces on the ice, as the team added nine players for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

The Griffs added forwards Matt Hoover, Nick Hutchinson, Casey Jerry, and Jesse Pereira; defensemen Dan Fritz and Matt Stief; and goaltenders Daniel Urbani, Blake Weyrick, and Charles Williams.

“I think all of them bring something to the table,” Head Coach Dave Smith said about the additions. “Whether it’s Nick Hutchinson in size, Casey Jerry in skating, Matt Stief with his passing, the work ethic of the goaltenders. They all bring something to the table. Honestly, in recruiting now, we’re able to select people that are passionate about what we’re building here and they come in and want to establish a legacy. So they all are unique, but they all fit into our piece of the puzzle.”

Hoover, a Brantford, Ontario native, played for the Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL last season. He brings with him the ability to score, as he scored 38 goals, which was sixth in the league and scored 81 points for the Clippers. Hoover also brings the ability to be a two-way player. He was named the team’s Best Two-Way Player. He also brings an ability of strong leadership, as he was also named the team’s Most Inspirational Season.

Jerry, a resident of Riversville, Wisconsin, spent the 2015-16 season playing for the Minnesota Magicians of the NAHL. Like, Hoover, Jerry has a knack for scoring. He led the Magicians in scoring with 48 points (16 goals and 32 assists). After having a strong season, he was selected to the 2016 NAHL Top Prospects Tournament.

Hutchinson, who lives on Long Island in Hicksville, NY, played two seasons for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the BCHL. In his two seasons with the Silverbacks, he scored 60 points while boasting solid size for a forward, as he stands 6-foot-3 tall and weighs 200 pounds.

Pereira only has to travel across the Peace Bridge to find his home of Fort Erie, Ontario. Prior to joining the Griffs, he helped lead the Brooks Bandits to the 2016 AJHL Championship.

“I actually live just across the border,” Pereira explained. “It takes me about 15 minutes to come to campus. When I was younger, I would watch Niagara [University]; obviously, Canisius is a better program, so coming 15 minutes to play for a Division I school is pretty phenomenal and you can’t get much closer.”

He brings with him an ability to score and a strong work ethic. He expressed that he has some goals for the season. “We want to win Atlantic Hockey. But for personal goals: trying to get into the lineup as much as I can, score some goals, put up some points and really just help the team from that kind of factor. Either if I’m on the first line or fourth line, I’ll be doing my role to just help out the team.”

Fritz is defenseman who calls Annapolis, Maryland home. He transferred for Quinnipiac University after one season with the Bobcats. Prior to playing for Quinnipiac, he played for Coquitlam Express of the BCHL during the 2014-15 season. He was named the team’s Defensive MVP for his efforts on the season. He will be redshirting this upcoming season with the Griffs.

Stief, a Weston, Florida native, played two years for the Prince George Spruce Kings of the BCHL. He brings to the Griffs leadership qualities, as he was the assistant captain for the Spruce Kings last year. He also is quite the goal scorer for a defenseman. He led the Spruce Kings with 43 points, ultimately becoming the defenseman to lead in that category for the team.

Urbani, one of two freshman goaltenders to join the Griffs this season, is from Coquitlam, British Columbia. He has a lot experience of having success, as he led the Trenton Golden Hawks to its first OJHL Championship last year. He was named a first-team OJHL All-Star for posting a 34-4-1 record with a 1.69 goals against average and .930 save percentage.

Weyrick, the other freshman goaltender, lives in Los Angeles, California. He played for the Janesville Jets of the NAHL for the last two seasons. While playing for the Jets, he recorded a 2.46 goals against average and .910 save percentage in 37 appearances.

Williams is a redshirt senior goaltender from Canton, Michigan. He spent the last four seasons playing for the Ferris State Bulldogs. He appeared in 20 games for the Bulldogs in his four years at Ferris State, posting a record of 5-8-1.

The Griffs are a very young team, as they only have three seniors on the roster, so it should be assumed that the newer players are going to have some expectations for the season. Coach Smith spoke to what his expectations are for the newer players. “To learn to complete. The quicker that they learn to figure that out the processing speed will come in and get their feet wet and do the best they can to figure out college hockey,” he said, “because this is a bigger jump to go from juniors to college than it is from college to the pro. We really just want to acclimate them and get them to feel comfortable with their teammates in the setting that we create and then take off from there on the ice.”

The Griffs brought in a plethora of young talent which will help them for not only this season, but also for seasons to come.

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