As the colour commentator for the Grads, I get to see all of the Grads home games in Navan. Though the team has yet to find the kind of consistency necessary to make a push for the playoffs, certain players have stood out.
Fabian and Daniel Walsh have been bright spots for the team. The elder Fabian, an All-Star, leads the team in PTS with 37. The younger Daniel, in his second season, trails only by 4 pts having already eclipsed his totals from last year. He is quick to come to his brother’s or anyone else’s defense and doesn’t hesitate to fight when needed. However, he would be even more useful by punishing other teams with higher point production (he’s on a four game point streak right now).
After the departure of Kevin Tansey for college, Cumberland has relied heavily on future Colgate star Kevin Lough on the backend. His participation in the Junior A challenge in B.C. gave a national audience the chance to see his skills and the All-Star Challenge in Smiths Falls will reassure Colgate of their selection of Lough who is never out of position and always making a play.
The second overall pick in the summer’s draft, Marc Beckstead, was expected to shoulder a big part of the load when it came to the offensive side of things. Despite his 21 PTS (7G, 14A), he’s had a tough time finding real chemistry with his teammates and even sat in the press box for a game. Despite that, Beckstead, who had a strong showing for the Frontenacs during their camp, has been growing this season.
Second year defenseman Philippe Drouin has stepped up his play as the likely replacement for Lough as the team’s go-to guy. Unafraid of moving the puck forward, he is also solid on the backend where he will give a big check when possible. Lately, his pinching helped him pick up a nice goal in a 6-2 win over Ottawa. He has 5G and 19A this year to lead the D-core.
The Grads have certainly not been afraid of sticking up from each other, even with the early season departure of Jacob Lewis for his native Newfoundland. Racking up the second most PIM in the league, it’s a good thing the penalty kill has been good. The habit of taking penalties on the powerplay, which apexed with it occurring 3 times against Brockville one Sunday afternoon, didn’t help their PP% which is at 15.57% and gets the most opportunities in the league.
The team has to be pleased with goaltender Pat Martin who took the number one job from Robin Billingham early in the year. He’s kept the team in a lot of games, has a stellar .914 SV% and was named the CCHL goalie of the month in November.
As it stands, the Grads are 5 pts out of a playoff spot trailing both Kanata and Smiths Falls. Although they have managed to string a 4 and 3 game win streak together earlier in the year, they will have to put together consistently good efforts to move into the picture. Home games are always good fun, and there is always a chance that Sean Bamford scores twice – something he’s done on 3 separate Sunday afternoons.