By Josh Howald
Who wants to spend Friday night in Shallow Lake?
Both Corey McCrae and Kurt Edwards, above, have returned for another season with the Wolves. (Independent file photo)
It’s the first of 18 regular season games the Wolves will play this season in the new-look WOAA North Division. The North Division is down to eight teams after the Walkerton Capitals folded during the off-season. That leaves the Wolves with the defending AA champions from Saugeen Shores, as well as Shallow Lake, Minto-Mapleton, Lucknow, Shelburne, Durham and Elora.
“We have added a few new players, and it isn’t a stretch to say I think we can compete at the top of the league this season,” said captain Jeremy McQuillin.
The Wolves were 11-11-0-2 last season, which got them a sixth place finish in the WOAA North and first round playoff series against the Shelburne Muskies. The Wolves took a 2-0 lead on the Fish, but were eventually eliminated in a tight, exciting opening round series.
Most of last year’s roster has returned for another season, including snipers Nick Locking, Mark Stanley and Travis Van Gaver. Each had at least 14 goals last year, and each is a former league scoring champion. One big pick pick-up for the Wolves is Ripley native Paul Stewart. The former Kincardine Bulldogs captain was a draft pick of the Soo Greyhounds and played Tier II for several years. A hard working playmaker, he will give Ripley some strength and size up the middle. The Wolves have also added some size in Tim Dwinnell. Dwinnell, from Kincardine, is a former Western Junior C scoring champ and played for the Walkerton Capitals last season. Both should have an immediate impact.
Goaltender Kurt Edwards is back between the pipes. Another Ripley boy, he played 15 games last year for the Wolves and picked up the first shutout in Wolves recent history. Alex MacLeod and Corey McCrae return to the anchor the blue line.
The Wolves had 22 players signed to cards as of last week, and could add a few more bodies at tonight’s practice in Lucknow. Shallow Lake also did some shopping on the off-season, which should make for a good game Friday night.
The Crushers acquired three players who played for the Caps last year – Brady Houston, Tyler McAfee and defenceman Shawn Bechtloff.
Friday night’s game in Shallow Lake will be the first game of the year for any team. Shallow Lake will play again Saturday night against the Mapleton-Minto 81’s before the rest of the teams kick off the season the following weekend.
Ripley’s home opener is Friday, Oct. 12 – in what will be a rematch against the Shallow Lake Crushers. The following night, the Wolves travel to Lucknow to face the Lancers.
“I think we’re going to put an exciting team on the ice this season,” said McQuilliin. “We are a quick team, and I think an entertaining team to watch.”