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#Our18: A new era begins for Wildcats

 

It’s a new era for hockey in Moncton.

For the past forty-four years, puck loving Monctonians have made the trek to the friendly confines of the Coliseum. But the Hub City has a new home for hockey now; it’s state of the art and will be home to a Wildcats team on the rise.

After a fantastic start to the 2017-18 season, the rebuilding Moncton Wildcats momentum was quickly derailed. The Wildcats finished the regular season in 14th place, a marked improvement from the previous season.

A late season resurgence saw the Wildcats regain their composure. The Cats were led by the inspired play of veteran goaltender Mark Grametbauer, scoring sensation Jeremy McKenna and rookie phenom Jakob Pelletier.

The Cats found new life, energy and much needed team chemistry in the post-season. They upset the highly touted Rimouski Océanic in seven games in the first round of the QMJHL President Cup playoffs before falling to the Armada in the quarter finals.

Important lessons have been learned.

From the agony of the rebuild process, to incorporating and developing youthful skill into their line up, the Moncton Wildcats are built to win. They boast a fantastic balance of skill, speed, grit and energy throughout their forward group.

Moncton has the luxury of returning a highly skilled core group of players that is extremely motivated to prove it belongs in the league’s upper echelon. Moncton’s top offensive trio of Mika Cyr, Jakob Pelletier and Jeremy McKenna remains focused on staying healthy and regaining the chemistry that will make them constant scoring threats.

As for Minnesota Wild draft pick Alexander Khovanov, he is also due for a breakout season. The highly skilled Russian star is healthy and will be counted on to have a larger role and impact on this year’s squad.

The Wildcats d-corps will be led by twenty-year-old veteran Gabriel Sylvestre, defensive stalwart Jonathon Aspirot and smooth skating Swiss import Simon Le Coutre. Moncton’s 2018 second round draft pick, 17-year-old Jordan Spence, is a highly skilled offensive puck moving defensemen that will definitely help the Cats transition game. Free agent newcomer Tristan de Jong along with Sean Stewart and Jack Tucker round out the Cats blueliners.

Mark Grametbauer was a shoe in for the Wildcats starting job entering the 2018-2019 season but had an off-season hip surgery and no timetable for his return has been set. For the meantime the Cats will rely on recently acquired veteran netminder Francis Leclerc and 2018 third round draft choice, 16-year-old Charles-Antoine Lavallée, to lead the way between the pipes.

The 2018-2019 version of the Moncton Wildcats is one of the most skilled and talented teams assembled in the Hub City in recent years.

The stage is set… it’s a new era that begins for the Moncton Wildcats and their loyal fan base.

 

The Moncton Wildcats in 2017-18:

Record: 27-33-5-3 (62 pts)
Overall rank: 14th
Goals for: 233
Goals against: 282
Leading scorers:
Jeremy McKenna (36-41-77)
James Phelan (33-41-74)
Nicholas Welsh (12-54-66)


2018 Playoffs:
Quarter Final exit against Blainville-Boisbriand (4-1)

 

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