The first Canadian men’s team to become official members of the American Collegiate Hockey Association hits the ice this weekend with a pair of games at Saginaw Valley State University.
After playing 12 exhibition matches against Division 3, ACHA competition in 2016-2017, Sault College has earned full membership status for the 2017-2018 season and will compete in the North Division.
The Cougars managed a record of 5-7-0 in non-conference play in 2016-2017.
To date, the Cougars have 19 players signed — nine forwards, seven defensemen and three goalies.
Of the 19 players, seven are returnees from last season including forwards Tyler Brown, Jason Uhl, Cody Poirier and Jordan Allick, defensemen Jamie Kamzol and Jared Binguis and goalie Carter Bissonette.
Brown, who hails from Echo Bay, just outside Sault Ste. Marie, is the most-experienced of the lot, having skated in the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League and the Maritime Hockey League before advancing to play for two teams in the Quebec Major Jr. Hockey League. In all, Brown skated in 50 games at the QMJHL level.
And Uhl, a Sault Ste. Marie product, has a solid junior background from time spent in the NOJHL as a productive forward with the Blind River Beavers.
Meanwhile, heading the list of newcomers are several players with high-level junior experience including forwards Ryan Vendramin, Mark Khull and Andrew Trowbridge and defensemen Cole Peck and Nick Trecroce.
After starring in the Great North Midget Hockey League with the then-named Soo North Stars, Vendramin went on to play in the Greater Ontario Jr. Hockey League and then in the Ontario Hockey League. In all, Vendramin played in 20 OHL games with the Sarnia Sting.
Meanwhile, Khull, Trowbridge, Peck and Trecroce are all former NOJHL mainstays.
Khull, Trowbridge (who can also play defense) and Peck are all graduates of the 2016-2017 NOJHL West Division champions from Blind River while Trecroce — a one-time OHL draft pick of the Sudbury Wolves — was a top defender for the Soo Eagles last season.
Sault College will play 24 regular season games within the ACHA as part of the 2017-2018 schedule. But as a first-year entry, Sault College has been awarded just five home games.
The Cougars are slated to play their first home games on Friday, November 3 and Saturday, November 4 at Rankin Arena when they face off against the Schoolcraft College Ocelots from Livonia, Michigan.
Following is the Sault College player roster.
GOALIES: Carter Bissonette, Drew Gregory, Braedan Turco.
DEFENSEMEN: Cole Peck, Nick Trecroce, Kevin Lanoix, Jared Binguis, Jamie Kamzol, Kelly Quevillon, Thomas Zwiers.
FORWARDS: Tyler Brown, Andrew Trowbridge, Mark Khull, Lucas Duckstein, Ryan Vendramin, Cody Poirier, Jordan Allick, Jake Lewis, Kevin Thrower.
Mike Hall is the head coach at Sault College and is assisted by Rod Trudel.
Bid Caverly and Shaw Houslander are the trainers.
Jay Houslander serves as the hockey co-ordinator and the program is overseen by Sault College manager of athletics Scott Gray.
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 major midget Soo North Stars.
Besides numerous league championships with the North Stars over the years, Hall coached the Sault Ste. Marie midgets to two gold medals, a silver medal and a bronze medal at the all-Ontario championships.