Soo Eagles general manager Bruno Bragagnolo came away with practical estimations from the weekend camp of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League team.
For starters, as 40 skaters and six goalies were at Big Bear Arena in the Michigan Soo for a gathering of would-be, could-be Eagles, Bragagnolo relayed that he is of the notion that “between 10 and 12” players from the 2018-2019 edition of the NOJHL squad will be returning for the 2019-2020 campaign.
Among the returnees who Bragagnolo said have indicated they will be a part of the Eagles for another season in 2019-2020 are goalie Shane Brancato and forwards Dominic Skrelja, Caleb Wood, Kyle Quinn and Raf Praysner and big defenseman Cam Parrott.
Brancato finished as the Eagles no. 1 goalie in 2018-2019 with a regular-season record of 13-7-3 alongside a 2.75 goals against average and .918 save percentage.
Meanwhile, Skrelja netted 18 goals in just 40 games while Wood dented the twine 19 times in 55 outings, Quinn scored 14 times in 52 games and Praysner had 14 tallies in 54 contests.
Wood and Praysner both played major midget hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario before signing with the Michigan-based Eagles last season. Of note, Praysner has dual North American citizenship.
As for the dependable Parrott, he played in 51 games for the Eagles last season and with a 2001 birth date, he was the youngest defenseman on the team.
Back to the aforementioned Wood, he will fill one of the Canadian player spots on the Eagles roster for the coming season. And Bragagnolo said he is seeking official clarification from the NOJHL and Hockey Canada as to whether the Eagles will be allowed the use of three or four Canadian players for the 2019-2020 season.
Besides Wood, the Eagles have a potential Canadian-born returning forward for 2019-2020 in Owen Shier. And Bragagnolo said that he and Eagles head coach Doug Laprade were impressed with two other Sault, Ontario products at the weekend camp.
Bragagnolo told Hockey News North that “we really like” defenseman Mateo Perri, who played high school hockey for the Korah Colts in 2018-2019 and was named the league’s top defender.
And Bragagnolo noted that another high school hockey player from Sault, Ontario, forward Jacob Bumbaco of the St. Mary’s Knights, “is another kid who we are really high on.”
Back to the goalie position, as the veteran Brancato will return in 2019-2020, the Eagles have also committed to rookie puck-stopper Ryan Gilmore.
Gilmore was a first-team, all-state, Division 1 high school all-star while playing in the Lansing, Michigan area in 2018-2019.
All in all, Bragagnolo likes the potential of the Eagles for the upcoming season, noting the “number of good returning players we have and some real good rookies who should help us.”
The Eagles are coming off of a 2018-2019 term in which they finished in third place in the six-team West Division of the NOJHL with a regular-season record of 28-24-4. They then lost in the West Division, semi-final playoffs, bowing out to the Rayside Balfour Canadians in a hard-fought, six-game series.