It reads as a display of commitment and depth. With a 26 player roster that includes 14 forwards, eight defensemen and four goalies, the Sault College Cougars are poised for their first full season as members of the Michigan Collegiate Hockey Conference.
The MCHC is part of the Division 3, American Collegiate Hockey Association and Sault College is the lone Canadian school with full membership.
Sault College will play a 30-game regular season in 2018-2019. Being new members of the MCHC, the schedule is weighted against Sault College in 2018-2019 as the Cougars will play only six of their 30 regular season games on home ice.
From the 26 players who are on the Sault College roster for the upcoming season — which begins for the Cougars on the September 21-22 weekend at Ferris State — here is a look at a few who should be key performers over the course of the 2018-2019 campaign.
Brian Kment. On the ice, the 23-year old Kment is a goalie with a winning background. Academically, he is in the Bachelor of Science Nursing program at Sault College.
After starring at the major midget level in Sault Ste. Marie, Kment went on to tend twine for the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League a few years back.
Andrew Barbeau. A 1997 birth year defenseman, Barbeau, who is a Sault Ste. Marie product, is fresh from an outstanding season as captain of the Niagara Falls Canucks of the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
He put up 2 goals, 45 assists, 47 points in 50 regular season games for Niagara Falls in 2017-2018.
Barbeau also played with the aforementioned Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL and prior to that, skated with the major midget Soo Indians of the Michigan Amateur Hockey Association.
Barbeau is a Business major at Sault College.
Mark Tassone. A highly-regarded left winger who is fresh from three successful seasons with the aforementioned Soo Thunderbirds of the NOJHL, Tassone, who has a 1999 birth date, plans to forgo two more seasons of junior eligibility to play at Sault College and further his education in the Police Foundations program.
Tassone played in 164 games for the NOJHL Thunderbirds, regular season and playoffs included and netted 52 goals, 63 assists, 115 points with the T-Birds over a three-year period.
Max Khull. Like Tassone, Khull has a 1999 birth date and is coming off a productive career as a high-end forward in the NOJHL.
A one-time Ontario Hockey League draft pick of the Niagara Ice Dogs, Khull led the Blind River Beavers in scoring during the 2017-2018 NOJHL regular season with 28 goals, 36 assists, 64 points.
Khull will also study Police Foundations at Sault College.
Ryan Vendramin. Yet another Police Foundations major, Vendramin will serve as the Cougars team captain this season.
A former major midget standout in the Soo as a high-scoring right winger, Vendramin went on to star with the Sarnia Legionnaires of the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Of note, Vendramin also played 20 games in the Ontario Hockey League as a former draft pick of the Sarnia Sting.
Meanwhile, at the helm of the Sault College hockey program as its head coach is Mike Hall.
The 53-year old Hall spent 15 seasons behind the bench of the Soo North Stars of the Great North Midget Hockey League, leading them to multiple regional and provincial championships.
Hall is looking forward to a full 30-game schedule for the upcoming season and sees the Sault College program as a credible option for hockey players seeking an education.
“Our program is starting to stabilize,” said Hall. “Players and their families are seeing the value of getting an education at a good school like Sault College.”
As a coach who develops players and recognizes the importance of education being a part of hockey, Hall’s track record from his days with the Soo major midgets speaks volumes about his credibility and passion for the game of hockey.
Rod Trudel will again assist Hall behind the Sault College bench this coming season.
Mark Hebert will serve as the manager of hockey operations for Sault College.
A noted recruiter with good contacts from his days in management and scouting at the junior level, Hebert has lofty expectations for the Sault College hockey program.
Keeping in mind that schooling is the top priority, Hebert is of the notion that Sault College is going to ice a formidable hockey squad in 2018-2019.
“We want to build a hockey program that represents Sault College well and has the ability to compete for a championship,” Hebert told Hockey News North. “This is an opportunity for good players to continue to play and get an education at a good school at the same time.”
Also on board is veteran NOJHL scout Charly Murray.
Murray, who is a retired steelworker, has decades of experience in the junior game that includes management and scouting positions in the NOJHL with the Thunderbirds, Soo Eagles and Blind River.
Murray has a past that includes helping a number of NOJHL graduates move on to play hockey and attend college and university.
AT HOME: The Cougars will play six regular season home games at Rankin Arena beginning with a match on November 30.
Other slated home games for Sault College are on December 1, January 25, January 26, February 22 and February 23.
PHOTO: Andrew Barbeau, from his days as captain of the Niagara Falls Canucks. (Photo by Niagara Falls Review.)