The Union men’s hockey team continues to look for its players from western Canada.
Four of the seven incoming players are from western Canada, the team announced Friday. Three of those players come from the British Columbia Junior Hockey League — forwards Randy Hanagan and Kelly Zajac of the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, and defenseman Nolan Julseth-White of the Langley Chiefs.
The fourth western Canadian player is defenseman Taylor Reid of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s Fort McMurray Oil Barons, the same team that produced two other Dutchmen defenseman, senior Lane Caffaro and junior Mike Schreiber.
The Dutchmen will have 12 of 28 players who played in western Canada when they start practice in Oct. 4.
“It’s been something that I’ve targeted since I’ve become the head coach,” Union coach Nate Leaman said. “Our first couple of years, we didn’t quite have the funding to do that. We’ve basically gotten that support. It takes a little bit of time to build the relationships that you want to, to ultimately get the players that you want from that area. We’re starting to see the fruits of our labors in our last couple of classes.”
The Dutchmen went across the Atlantic Ocean to get one recruit. Defenseman Carl Ekstrom (6-0, 170 pounds) is from Sodertalje, Sweden. He had two goals and 22 assists in 36 games for Sodertalje SK of the J20 SuperElit League last season. He is the first Swede, and third European, to play for Union at the Division I level.
Six-foot, 180-pound forward Brian Yanovitch had 18 goals and 33 assists in 45 games for the Eastern Junior Hockey League’s Bridgewater Bandits. An EJHL All-Star, Yanovitch ranked 12th in league scoring.
There is one transfer student joining the Dutchmen. Goaltender Brett Bothwell comes to Union from Wayne State, which dissolved its hockey program in March.
Bothwell, who will compete for playing time with sophomore Corey Milan, was 8-13 last season with a 3.36 goals-against average, two shutouts and a .879 save percentage. He had a 42-save effort in a 3-2 win at St. Lawrence Nov. 23.
More details in Saturday’s Daily Gazette and online at www.dailygazette.com.
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