Festarini will help solidify Laurier's goaltending in 2014-15 (Photo Credit: Brandon Taylor - Hamilton Bulldogs Hockey Club)
WATERLOO, Ont. (July 23, 2014) - Wilfrid Laurier men's hockey head coach GREG PUHALSKI
is pleased to announce nine new players that will join his squad for the upcoming 2014-15 season.
Highlighting this year's recruiting class are four players with major junior experience and the class features one goaltender, five forwards and three defencemen.
"We have continued in our efforts to bring in character student-athletes who are excited to join our program," commented Puhalski on the additions to his club. "These nine future Hawks embody that vision and it's great to have them join our team."
Leading the class for Puhalski is Chris Festarini
, a goaltender that has the potential to shore up the Hawks at that position for a number of years. A 6-2, 190 pound native of Timmins, Ont., Festarini joins the purple and gold after spending five years in the OHL with the Erie Otters and the Niagara Ice Dogs. Over the course of his OHL career, he posted a 47-52-7 record and represented Canada at the U-17 World Hockey Challenge where he helped his team win a silver medal. Those accolades helped earn him an invite to the Montreal Canadiens NHL rookie camp in the summer of 2013. After a stint at the Hamilton Bulldogs AHL training camp, he joined the Truro Bearcats of the Maritime Hockey League (MHL) where he posted a 12-2 record with a 2.08 goals against average and a 0.933 save percentage.
The first of three players to join the Hawks from out west is Erik Pushka
of Oakbank, Man. The 5-11, 175 pound forward comes to Laurier from the Selkirk Steelers of the Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) where he was an offensive force. In 237 career games in the MJHL, he recorded 76 goals and 101 assists, highlighted by a 69-point season (35 G, 31 A) last year. His play was instrumental in the Steelers finishing with a league-best record of 49-7-4.
Joining Pushka from out west are forward Patrick Chore
of Kelowna, B.C., and defenceman Matt Franczyk
of Winnipeg, Man. Chore played last season with the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) where he scored seven goals and nine assists in 46 games. Prior to that, he suited up for the Oakville Blades of the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) where he had 37 goals and 26 assists in 51 games.
As for Franczyk, after playing parts of two seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL), the 6-2, 210 pound blueliner played the last three years with Steinbach in the MJHL. In his career with Steinbach, he played in 130 games recording 10 goals and 57 points while earning second team league all-star honours in 2013-14.
Two other players joining the purple and gold also bring major junior experience with them in Ryan Shepley of Ilderton, Ont., and Justin Rasmussen
of Georgetown, Ont. Shepley spent three seasons in the OHL with Ottawa and Niagara, appearing in 116 games, recording five points and adding 108 penalty minutes. The 5-10, 200 pound blueliner played with the London Nationals in the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) last year recording two goals and 15 assists in 29 games played.
Rasmussen's major junior experience comes from playing parts of three seasons with Mississauga in the OHL. In 80 career games, the forward recorded eight goals and nine assists before splitting last season with Dieppe and Yarmouth in the MHL where he had 46 points in 43 games.
Rounding out the recruiting class are a pair of forwards and a defenceman. Robbie Fisher of Kenora, Ont., comes to Laurier after playing the last three seasons with the Okotoks Oilers of the AJHL. While with the Oilers, he recorded 52 goals and 50 assists in 170 games. He will be joined up front by Matt Dupont
of Milton, Ont. Suiting up for Cumberland and Ottawa in the Central Canada Hockey League (CCHL) a year ago, he scored 28 goals and added 37 assists in 58 games.
of Oakville, Ont., is the final member of this year's class. The 5-10, 185 pound defender is coming off a four year career with Mississauga of the OJHL where he had 50 points and 273 penalty minutes in 148 games played.
All nine players will be shooting for a spot in the Hawks starting lineup when they kick off the regular season on Saturday, October 4th at 7:30 p.m. Laurier hosts the Lakehead Thunderwolves in their home opener that night at the Waterloo Recreation Complex.