Rayside-Balfour Canadians of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League have ushered in the month of June by securing a number of new player signings ahead of the 2018-2019 season.
The defending West Division champions have brought aboard six forwards, four defenseman and a goalie. Included in the group of newcomers are seven players with northern Ontario roots.
Forwards inked to NOJHL cards include Nick Davis, Mathieu Dokis Dupuis, Zachary Hauseman, Bryce Lewis, Dario Beljo and Gio Biondi.
New to the Rayside-Balfour defense corps are Chris Clark, Joel Mongeon and Brody Willard. Another defenseman, Lucas Vidinha, has committed to Rayside-Balfour as a minor-midget aged, 2002 birth year skater, though he has yet to officially sign an NOJHL card.
And the Canadians signed a goalie for the present and future in the person of Sebastien Plamandon.
Among the forwards, Davis, Dokis Dupuis and Hauseman were all born in 2000, Lewis has a 2001 birth date and Beljo and Biondi were both born in 2002.
On the blueline, Clark and Mongeon were both born in 2000 while Willard has a 2001 birth date.
And Plamondon, the goalie, has a 2001 birth date.
Rayside-Balfour took a particular interest in players from the Great North Midget Hockey League, as Canadians owner, president and general manager Adrian Gedye noted.
Davis (North Bay Trappers), Dokis Dupuis (Sudbury Nickel Capitals), Clark (Sudbury Nickel Capitals), Mongeon (Sudbury Nickel Capitals), Beljo (Sudbury Minor Midget Wolves), Biondi (Sudbury Minor Midget Wolves) and Plamondon (Kapuskasing Flyers) all starred within the Great North loop in 2017-2018.
Playing out of North Bay, Davis led the major midget Trappers and the entire Great North in scoring during the 2017-2018 regular season with 33 goals, 26 assists, 59 points in 35 games.
Meanwhile, Beljo (London Knights) and Biondi (Sudbury Wolves) were both picked at the 2018 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
“We support northern Ontario hockey and it is great to be able to add so many players from the Great North Midget League,” Gedye told Hockey News North.
Gedye took pride in noting that every single player that Rayside-Balfour offered to sign following its recent spring tryout camp accepted the overture from him and Canadians coach Steve Lauzon.
Ahead of his third season as the owner of the Rayside-Balfour franchise, Gedye likes the overall look of the incoming players who have signed with the Canadians.
“We’ve added youth that has high skill,” Gedye began. “We went after players with great character who are good, strong skaters with plenty of speed.
“And in Plamondon, we have an up and coming young goaltender who, in our opinion, was the best goalie in the Great North Midget League this past season while playing up in Kapuskasing.”
Coming off a 2017-2018 season in which it finished atop the standings in the West Division and then ousted the Blind River Beavers and Soo Thunderbirds in the playoffs before losing to the Cochrane Crunch in the NOJHL championship series, Rayside-Balfour also played in front of an increased fan base at Chelmsford Arena.
After averaging about 250 fans per game during the 2017-2018 regular season (an increase of about 70 per outing from the 2016-2017 campaign) the Canadians played to some capacity crowds of just over 500 on their playoff run to the finals.