The building of the fledgling varsity men’s hockey program at Sault College is an ongoing process and a work in progress.
The 2017-2018 campaign will mark Sault College’s first official season as members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association. The Cougars competed at the Division 3, ACHA level on an exhibition basis in 2016-2017, taking part in 12 games and winning 5 of them.
Now, as they prepare to take to the ice for the fall-winter term with the reputable Mike Hall behind the bench as head coach, the Cougars have firmed up a number of commitments for the upcoming season — with many more to come preparatory to the 2017-2018 campaign — via Sault College hockey facilitator Jay Houslander.
One of the more-recent commitments is from defenseman Jared Binguis, who skated in four of the exhibition matches for the Cougars in 2016-2017 before breaking a leg. Hailing from Lac Seul First Nation in northwestern Ontario, Binguis has considerable experience at the junior hockey level.
The big defender has played for English River Miners of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League, Blind River Beavers and French River Rapids of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and Meaford Knights of the Greater Metro Jr. Hockey League.
Before Binguis, a collection of high-end products from the Sault Ste. Marie area into the North Shore made their commitments to Sault College and the hockey Cougars known.
The list includes defensemen Jamie Kamzol and Andrew Trowbridge and forwards Austin Rowe and Ryan Vendramin.
Kamzol is a former captain and all-star with the White Pines Wolverines of the Sault Ste. Marie High School Hockey League.
Trowbridge is fresh from three full seasons with the Blind River Beavers of the NOJHL. Trowbridge is a Blind River area product who was a part of the Beavers dramatic turnaround from a win-less season of two years ago to a team that made it to the NOJHL championship series this past spring.
A productive performer, Rowe led the Sault Ste. Marie high school hockey loop in scoring the past two seasons as a member of the repeat champion St. Mary’s Knights.
And Vendramin is a former scoring sensation with the erstwhile Soo North Stars major midgets who went on to play with the Sarnia Legionnaires of the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League.
As for the aforementioned Hall, the 52-year old taskmaster is four seasons removed from a rather-successful 20-year run as head coach of the old Soo North Stars of the Great North Midget Hockey League. Besides numerous league championships with the North Stars over the years, Hall coached the local midgets to two gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal at the all-Ontario championships.
As part of a Michigan-based conference of the ACHA, Sault College — as the only Canadian entry — will face off against squads representing the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Saginaw Valley State University, Grand Valley State University, Central Michigan University and Oakland University come the 2017-2018 season.
PHOTO: Mike Hall running a practice during his days as coach of the Soo North Stars of the Great North Midget Hockey League.