New recruits, including two St. Marys natives, introduced during team function June 3 at the PRC
By Pat Payton
There was a hint of excitement in Greg Smale’s voice when he told the Independent recently that he was signing seven new players for the 2022-23 GOJHL season.
The St. Marys Lincolns’ Director of Hockey Operations/GM is obviously pleased with the calibre of player joining the Western Conference team. Six of those players were on hand June 3 at the PRC to sign on the dotted line in front of family members and team officials. Another player in the Lincs’ plan was unable to attend as he was skating at an Ontario Hockey League camp.
Lincolns lost four 20-year-old defencemen at the end of this past season, and four of the newcomers who signed cards are blue-liners.
Two St. Marys natives
Two of the new Lincs are St. Marys natives Jimmy Schiedel and Rourke McEwan, both 17. They were members of the Alliance champion U18 Huron-Perth ‘AAA’ Lakers in 2021-22. Both played a handful of games as affiliate skaters with the Lincolns last season.
“It’s not that they’re just local kids, Jimmy and Rourke deserve to be here,” Smale noted. “We feel they’re going to be good players in the future. It might not be the first month or two months, but down the road they’re going to be good players on this team.”
Schiedel led the Lakers in scoring with seven goals and 24 points in 33 games. A right shot, he also added four points in eight playoff games. Jimmy is the oldest son of Dan Schiedel, a former Lincs’ captain who played five seasons with the team (1988-93).
“Jimmy’s a player we’ve been keeping an eye on for two years,” the GM said. “He’s versatile; he can play centre or on the wing. He’s a hard-worker and he’s got a very high hockey IQ. We’re excited to have him on board.”
McEwan was named a league all-star on defence this past season. The left-shooting blue-liner, who makes smart decisions with the puck, chipped in 17 points (4-13) in 32 games.
“Rourke is someone who continues to get better,” Smale said. “He’s really started to find his game and work hard at his game. He’s really stood out among defencemen in the Triple ‘A’ division. I’ve been very impressed with his growth and I think he has a high ceiling. We’re really interested in seeing him put the work in, and see where all that leads. I think he’s going to be a very good player for us in the future.”
Strong spring camp
Another 17-year-old defenceman who will wear St. Marys colours next season is Jacob Montesi. The left-shooting blue-liner played with the U18 Lambton ‘AAA’ Jr. Sting this past year.
“He’s a really smooth skater,” the GM says. “I didn’t know much about the kid until our (spring) prospects camp and he really stood out. He has good hockey instincts and makes a great first pass. He came highly recommended from one of our players this year, Noah VandenBrink. Noah spoke volumes about him as a player, and we’re really excited about his potential for the future.”
Montesi, from London, played five games with Strathroy Rockets as an affiliate skater this season.
A third 17-year-old defenceman coming to St. Marys next season is Owen Brown. The Londoner was a member of the U18 Elgin-Middlesex “AAA’ Chiefs in 2021-22, picking up 14 points in 32 games.
“Owen’s a player we’ve had an eye on for a while,” Smale said. “We got to see him at our camps, and really liked his progress. We know he will put the work in over the summer and really improve his game.”
Owen’s the younger brother of Ryan Brown, who finished his Junior career with the Lincs as a 20-year-old in 2019-20.
One of Lincolns’ 16-year-olds next season will be left-shooting defenceman Grayden Strohack, a third-round pick of the Flint Firebirds in the 2022 OHL draft.
The 6 ft., 3 inch, 185 lb. Strohack was a member of the U16 Waterloo Wolves ‘AAA’ team this past season. The Waterloo native had 21 points (4-17) and 38 penalty minutes in 27 games.
Led New Hamburg in scoring
In addition to Schiedel, Lincs have inked two other forwards.
Owen Bruder, an 18-year-old centre from Baden, led the New Hamburg Jr. ‘C’ Firebirds in scoring last season. He had 22 goals and 35 points in 36 regular-season games, and then clicked for 13 goals and 20 points in 24 playoff contests.
Bruder was selected rookie-of-the-year in the South Conference. “I’m very excited about this kid,” Smale said.
Forward Matt Prendergast has also signed with the Lincolns. He was recently up in Sault Ste. Marie, skating at an OHL camp put on by the Greyhounds.
Skilled offensively, the 17-year-old Dorchester native led the U18 London ‘AAA’ Jr. Knights in scoring with 16 goals and 25 points in 33 games. He added five goals in the playoffs.
Prendergast also played six games, including three in the playoffs, as an affiliate skater with the Lincs.
“We’ve built a relationship with Matt over the past couple of years,” the GM says. “We think he’s going to be a very important player for us this year and for years to follow.”
In his address to the new Lincs on June 3, Smale had this to say: “This is just the start of your new journey,” he said. “It’s a new beginning and things that you aren’t used to. There’s going to be ups and downs, but that’s part of growing up and part of hockey in general. We hope you’re going to have more good nights than bad nights.
“We’re really excited to have the six new players and their families here tonight,” he added.