Michigan Soo Eagles of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have inked three forwards from the Canadian side of the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie.
The Eagles have lured the high-end trio of Caleb Wood, Raf Praysner and Owen Shier from the back yard of their Ontario-based, NOJHL rival Soo Thunderbirds.
Wood, Praysner and Shier finished second, third and fourth, respectively, on the scoring chart of the Soo Greyhounds of the Great North Midget Hockey League during the 2017-2018 regular season.
Wood totaled 18 goals, 10 assists, 28 points in 36 regular season games with the Greyhound major midgets. Right behind Wood were Praysner with 9-17-26 totals in 32 games and Shier with 8-18-26 numbers in 36 outings.
Praysner also showed a sandpaper edge with 127 penalty minutes.
Bruno Bragagnolo, who is about to enter his ninth season as general manager of the Michigan-based Eagles, said he is thrilled to be able to sign three players from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario.
“All three boys will bring a combination of speed, skill and grit to our program,” Bragagnolo told Hockey News North. “To be able to sign three really good players from Soo, Ontario is a real boost for us.”
Bragagnolo said he expects Wood, Praysner and Shier to see regular duty and score their share of goals for the Eagles.
“We have been scouting all three players for a couple of years now,” Bragagnolo noted. “They are all good all-around players who compete hard and have shown that they can put the puck in the net. We are really excited to have all three boys sign with the Soo Eagles.”
All three players had opportunities to sign with other junior A level teams but chose the Eagles, Hockey News North confirmed.
“I have heard a lot about what a great organization the Soo Eagles are,” said Wood. “After skating with them I decided they were the team that I wanted to play for.”
When asked what the Eagles can expect from him, Wood said his game is based on “finesse, speed and skill.”
Praysner said after meeting Bragagnolo and new Eagles head coach Doug Laprade that “it just felt right to sign with them. I love the staff and (Pullar Stadium) is a great facility.”
Describing himself as a two-way forward, Praysner said he looks to “bring intensity and skill” to the Eagles, adding that he will “do what I can to help the team get the win.”
As for Shier, the youngster said the decision to sign with the Eagles was an easy one.
“I have been around the Eagles organization through family members and friends since I was a little kid,” Shier began. “I grew up to respect the organization, so when I got the chance to sign with them, it was an easy choice for me.”
Shier, who is a grandson of former Eagles assistant coach Dennis Bolton and a stepson of current Eagles strength and conditioning coach Michael Barbeau, commented on what assets he hopes to bring to the Michigan Soo squad.
“I think my vision for the ice and my skating and passing abilities are strengths that will help the Eagles,” Shier relayed.
All three players were born in 2000 and have up to three full seasons of junior hockey eligibility ahead of them.
PHOTO: New Soo Eagles head coach Doug Laprade with (left to right) newly-signed players Raf Praysner, Caleb Wood and Owen Shier.