BY SOUTHGREY.CA STAFF –
The Grey Highlands Hawks will play their first game of the season against the Bracebridge Pioneers, a newly formed Canadian Premier Junior Hockey League (CPJHL) expansion team, at 7 pm on Saturday, September 23 in Bracebridge. Their home opener is scheduled for Friday, October 6 at 7:30 pm vs. the Brampton Royals.
The 2017-18 campaign will mark their second year in the CPJHL, a developmental league which provides a valuable recruiting ground for NCAA, NJCAA and CIS college coaches, and is the sanctioning body of the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU).
Last year’s inaugural CPJHL championship was decided in thrilling fashion as the Almonte Sharpshooters defeated the Muskoka Wild 4-3 in overtime. Sharing the Western division with the dominant Muskoka Wild and the talented Essa Stallions last year made for a tough climb up the standings for the Hawks but they finished with a .613 winning percentage and a total of 59 points during the regular season. They hope to improve on their third place division finish and early exit in the first round of the 2016-17 playoffs.
2016-17 Team photo.
As their season wound down, there were many bright spots noted for the Hawks to look back on with pride of accomplishment. Skylar Robertson, 2016-17 team scoring leader, finished with the second highest overall points total during the regular season. William MacDonald topped all others in assists and Ben Everett ended last season netting the league’s highest short-handed goals total.
Defenceman Presten Bobyk and forward Daniel Bureau both advanced to the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL) to play for the Cochrane Crunch in 2017-18. Many others moved on to higher level leagues as well, making the first year of this developmental team a big success.
Matthew Jaskiewicz will coach this year’s squad, named as only the second head coach in the short Grey Highlands Hawks franchise history. Prior to joining the Hawks, Jaskiewicz served as the Assistant Coach and Assistant GM for the Dallas Snipers (2014–17) and helped them advance to the playoffs each of the past three seasons. Jaskiewicz has helped develop and send over 35 players to higher levels of Junior, College and Professional Hockey in his first three years of coaching.
“I can’t wait to be a part of the Markdale family, and have this program actively involved with the Markdale community. I know Assistant Coach Emil Melin from our time together in Dallas (2013–14) when we were teammates. I am really looking forward to getting to work with him. I have heard nothing but great things from him about this community,” stated Jaskiewicz. “I am excited to get to work with Goalie Coach Rob Campbell and Power Skating Coach Denise Reid. They will be two big pieces of our success down the road and I am thankful for the opportunity to work with this staff. I am looking forward to a great season in Grey Highlands.”
“Our new head coach is very driven and he thinks we’re going all the way this year,” added Carrie Robertson, Grey Highlands Hawks administrator. As more imported players arrive to fill out the 2017-18 roster, prospects for the coming year should become more apparent. Robertson also explained that the roster will be finalized over the next few weeks, but has suffered from delays caused by Hurricane Irma which has interrupted business at AAU headquarters in central Florida.
Hawks players are also heavily involved in the community, volunteering at local events and schools throughout the winter.
The Grey Highlands Hawks play home games at the Markdale Community Complex and Arena at 75 Walker Street in Markdale. Tickets are available at the door for all home games. $8 for adults. $5 for students and seniors. Check the CPJHL website for the full schedule.
Photos: Courtesy of Grey Highlands Hawks
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