A returning defenseman and a rookie forward have signed to play for the Espanola Express.
Jason Rapcewicz, who is the owner, president and general manager of the small market Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team, told Hockey News North that holdover defenseman William Whelton and freshman forward Isaac Westlake have signed with the Express.
Whelton and Westlake have youth on their side as both have 2003 birth dates.
Playing in 53 games as a 16-year old rookie for Espanola in 2019-2020, Whelton managed a goal, five assists, six points while also seeing duty on the forward lines. He is from Whitby, Ontario.
“He had a pretty good rookie season for us,” Rapcewicz said of the 5-foot-10, 175 pound Whelton. “We expect William to shoulder a bigger role for us this coming season.”
As for Westlake, the 6-foot-2, 200 pound power forward skated for the Huron Perth Lakers of the Alliance AAA Midget Hockey League in 2019-2020. He hails from Embro, Ontario, which is just outside London.
“He will give us some size and grit,” Rapcewicz said of Westlake.
The Express is coming off a fifth place finish — and playoff spot — from the 2019-2020 season and will debut the highly-regarded Brent Hughes as its new head coach for the upcoming campaign.