St. Stephen – Two new pieces have been added to the St. Stephen Aces puzzle.
The junior A squad recently acquired two forwards, both of whom played for a championship team last season. In addition, the Aces have traded last year’s constant in net, Jack Grant.
Here’s an in depth look at the new additions, and goalie trade.
Patrick Pellerin, forward
Coming from: Edmundston Blizzard, MHL
Those familiar with the Edmundston Blizzard know it took the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) by storm last season, winning the league championship.
Patrick Pellerin, a 19-year-old 6’0”, 175 lb. forward, comes to the Aces with one full season of junior A under his belt, playing on the fourth line of last year’s championship team.
His stats from last season are what you’d expect from a fourth line forward.
The New Maryland native posted eight points (all assists) in 40 games, with 124 minutes spent in the box; but Pellerin is expected to play a different role for the Aces.
“From what I can see, he just hasn’t played in a role. I think he can play a bigger role, and be counted on for some leadership too,” said Aces coach, Emery Olauson.
Olauson said late in the Blizzard’s season, Pellerin sat out in one of the Fred Page Cup games, putting the wheels in motion for a change.
“Not that he had a bad attitude or needed out, but I think he wants to play every night. As an 18-year-old last year, he wanted to play more coming up, and in Edmundston I don’t necessarily think that would be the case,” Olauson said, and noted because Pellerin was born in 1999, he has two more years in the league.
The Aces traded the rights to 20-year-old Malcolm Arseneau (who plays for the Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Canada Hockey League) and a 4th round pick in the 2020 draft for Pellerin.
In addition, the Aces received a conditional 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft, and a conditional 4th round pick in the 2020 draft to the Blizzard.
“We’re going to give him an opportunity to get back to scoring,” Olauson said, referring to his 13 goals and nine assists in 34 games with the Fredericton Canadiens in midget AAA.
“We know he can get himself in front of the net, and battle for position there; we’re going to give him the opportunity to play a little bit more of the ice time and minutes and situations that are going to get him more points on the board.
“In return he adds a ton of toughness and grit to our lineup, from the forward position, and as an identity.”
Olauson said Blizzard general manager Steve Macpherson knew one of the qualities the Aces are on the lookout for in the team’s rebuilding process – that of championship experience.
“One common thing I’m hearing about the past in St. Stephen is that there has been skill, … they’ve had pieces of what makes you win, but they don’t have that glue, that bond player – really just the identity of a champion team, so that’s definitely one thing we’re looking at changing.”
As a “great kid” and a “firecracker”, Pellerin’s the type of player to do it. “We really believe (Pellerin) can help change the culture and help change the identity of our team,” Olauson said.
And Pellerin’s up to the challenge.
“I’m looking forward to it to be honest,” Pellerin said in a telephone interview at the beginning of the week.
“I was talking to (Olauson) and he seems hopeful for this next year, and I can’t wait to be a part of the organization.
“I’m happy to be a part of the (Aces) rebuilding. Last year was a lot of fun, but I’m looking forward to see what the Aces have to offer. I looked at the roster to see who’s coming back and we should have a pretty good team.”
Adam Zimmermann, forward
Coming from: Notre Dame Hounds, SMAAAHL
The Notre Dame Hounds of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League went all the way to hoist the much coveted Telus Cup last season.
Adam Zimmermann, who has just committed to the Aces, was a member of that championship team.
The 18-year-old forward from Tampa Bay, FL, logged 16 points in 42 games (six goals, 10 assists) in the regular season.
But, like Pellerin, Olauson said he feels his numbers “are deceivingly low”.
“I think he’s very defensively responsible, and he’s been counted on for killing penalties, for kind of a checking line role, where he’s matched up against other team’s top players because of his foot speed, and just how quickly he can defend.”
Olauson explained Zimmermann was recently recruited out of the Varsity Reds Top Prospect Camp in Fredericton. Zimmermann was a player Olauson immediately took notice of at the camp, with his Notre Dame gear, and described him as “a great skater in tip-top shape”.
“We’re really, really excited again to bring that championship mentality and we just want Adam rubbing shoulders and sharing what he knows about winning the Telus Cup with our players and what it takes to win.”
Zimmermann, who’s been playing hockey for 14 years, said he’s looking forward to joining the Aces.
“It’s a great opportunity; it’s a big stepping stone for me to come up to junior hockey and see how things go,” Zimmermann said, and added he’s ready to step into whatever role Olauson needs him to.
“Honestly I think I can play any style or any role that’s needed on a team. Normally when I was in Florida, I was more a skill guy, a playmaker kind of player, but when I played at Notre Dame, playing on a different role, I had to find my spot on the team. I played like a hardnosed, hard worker, get things done kind of player.”
Jack Grant, former Aces goaltender
Committed to: Cowichan Capitals, BCHL
The St. Stephen Aces have traded goaltender Jack Grant to the Cowichan Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League in exchange for future considerations.
Grant played in 36 games for the Aces last season, and posted a 10-24-1 record, with a 3.93 goals against, and 0.900 save percentage.
Olauson said Grant wanted to pursue a NCAA Division 1 hockey opportunity.
“I think he’s a good quality goaltender that’s just been stuck in a situation where he’s not winning enough games. Would we have loved to change the culture and have Jack back? Yes. Are we excited at the players that are going to be filling that void? Yeah, we are,” Olauson said.
Olauson said the trade opens up the opportunity for a starting goaltending spot, and recruiting is going well. Olauson said he feels there are some good netminders lined up to come to training camp.
“I really want a good competition in our net, and I think we’ll get it this year. We’re excited at what we can turn the Jack Grant trade into. I think we have the ability to turn that into players that are going to help us win.”