While a number of Junior A teams used the January 10 Canadian Junior Hockey League trade deadline to stock up on offence – top 10 scorers found themselves on the move in the BCHL, AJHL, SJHL and SIJHL – the Camrose Kodiaks chose to make a little less of a splash.
The 2011 RBC Cup hosts made a trio of moves in the days leading up to the deadline, adding three players – with a combined six goals and 27 points in 109 games – without losing anyone off their active roster.The biggest acquisition was that of Mackenzie Royer, who helped the Calgary Hitmen win the WHL championship last season; the Spruce Grove, Alta., native had four points in 20 playoff games as the Hitmen reached the semifinal at the Memorial Cup.
Traded to Moose Jaw in mid November, Royer found himself as the odd man out with the Warriors after the WHL club made changes of its own at the deadline, and now gets the chance to pull off a rare feat – winning Major Junior and Junior A national championships in back-to-back seasons.
“Knowing that Royer has the experience of winning a WHL championship and playing in a Memorial Cup, he knows what it takes to play in high performance competition, where every game is so important to prepare for,” Kodiaks head coach and general manager Boris Rybalka told the team’s website.
The other two deadline pick-ups add depth to an already strong Kodiaks line-up.
Defenceman Jesse Altheim, acquired from St. Albert, joins an impressive blue line corps that includes four players who represented Canada West at November’s World Junior A Challenge: Craig Bokenfohr, Ben Gallacher, Sam Jardine and Nolan Kaiser.
The 19-year-old from Stony Plain, Alta., is a stay-at-home defender who recorded five assists in 33 games with the Steel.
Forward Mario Boilard, who came to the Kodiaks from Drayton Valley, adds a little grit to the Camrose line-up – the 20-year-old Ste-Justine, Que., native had 119 penalty minutes in 41 games with the Thunder this year, after racking up 164 minutes last season.
He’s already shown a little offensive flair with the Kodiaks – after scoring just four goals with Drayton Valley, Boilard found the back of the net three times in his first five games with Camrose.
"Having seen Altheim and Boilard play in the AJHL against the Kodiaks this season, I know they can each bring a special element to our team for the remainder of the regular season, and into the playoffs,” Rybalka said. “This will be very valuable to us when we enter the playoffs in February, and into the RBC Cup."
The Kodiaks, who will make their sixth appearance at the National Junior A Championship in the last 11 years, open the RBC Cup on April 30 when they take on the Pacific Region champions in the tournament’s first game.