Ward a so­lid­i­fy­ing force with Saint John Sea Dogs

Sackville Tribune - - OP-ED - SACKVILLE, N.B. Wal­lie Sears Write Call

The first ques­tion put to Sackville na­tive and Saint John Sea Dog grinder was, “What do you real­is­ti­cally pro­ject in the fu­ture for your hockey ca­reer?”

The an­swer came quickly and showed ev­i­dence of ma­tu­rity in the 19-year-old.

“One more year of ma­jor ju­nior hockey and then off to univer­sity in pur­suit of a de­gree. If there are hockey op­tions af­ter that I would def­i­nitely ex­plore them but my ed­u­ca­tion must come first.”

This was re­fresh­ing to hear as Kyle Ward has been a so­lid­i­fy­ing force with the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League team for the past two sea­sons.

He knows his role and is good at it. He has played left wing on every one of the four lines but de­voted much of the past sea­son on the fourth line where he is used to shut down the op­po­si­tion and to en­sure none of his “lit­tle bud­dies” are abused.

Kyle has missed a fair amount of time due to in­juries and sim­ply smiled when asked how he ended up with a bro­ken hand. He has had a fair num­ber of con­fronta­tions but at six feet and 200 pounds has posted a win­ning record. Dur­ing the past in­jury-short­ened cam­paign he was nicked for 126 min­utes in the sin bin.

But what does he re­ally see in his fu­ture?

A solid B stu­dent, he has al­ready marked up sev­eral univer­sity cred­its while at­tend­ing UNB Saint John as part of the league’s ed­u­ca­tional pro­gram. With the league’s aca­demic pro­grams, he hopes to pur­sue a de­gree in ar­chi­tec­ture.

There is ques­tion of where he may play his hockey this com­ing sea­son. He will be among six 20-year-olds vy­ing for the three spots al­lot­ted each team. But with his skill sets it is cer­tain he wont be out of work very long and will be a dom­i­nant fac­tor with an­other team.

Sea Dogs vet­eran coach Danny Flynn has de­scribed Ward as an im­por­tant player on the team.

“Not just for the role he plays as a hard work­ing grind­ing hon­est for­ward but he’s got re­spect in­side the dress­ing room. He’s a re­ally team-first guy. He ac­cepts and un­der­stands his role on the team – you need those hon­est guys on your fourth line if your team is go­ing to win.”

And win they did – lead­ing the QMJHL for much of the sea­son and then sweep­ing the play­offs to earn a berth in Wind­sor in the Memo­rial Cup play­offs where they were 1-3 against the best ju­nior squad in North Amer­ica.

Flynn goes on to say Ward Kyle Ward, shown in this file photo from his time with the Monc­ton Fly­ers, was a ninth-round pick in the 2014 draft and has since earned a solid rep­u­ta­tion with the Saint John Sea Dogs.

plays hard at both ends of the ice and de­fends his team­mates.

Ward was a ninth-round pick in the 2014 draft af­ter win­ning two cham­pi­onships with the Monc­ton Fly­ers Mid­gets and

ended up in the play­offs with the Dieppe Com­man­dos.

Jack Drover, the long­time coach of the Moun­ties, was asked how he would rank Ward’s hockey abil­ity with oth­ers from this com­mu­nity. He said that would be dif­fi­cult as no­body in re­cent time has had suc­cess at the ma­jor ju­nior level. He noted play­ers like Eric Sloan, Steve Bowes and Brad De­varennes who played for him. How­ever, none ever went be­yond. It’s re­called that Scott Richard­son earned a ma­jor schol­ar­ship to play univer­sity hockey in Maine but few have ever gone on the play at the higher level.

Of course the names of Bobby Copp and Ge­orge Allen pop up but they played 70 years ago dur­ing the Sec­ond World War in the NHL. Copp of Port El­gin played de­fence with the Maple Leafs while also study­ing den­tistry at Univer­sity of Toronto and Allen per­formed with a num­ber of teams when the league con­sisted of just six teams.

Later, a pair of Sackville stars – Hymie Hunter and Alonzo Legere – joined teams in the Antigo­nish-pic­tou-colch­ester League and be­came lead­ing scor­ers. Much ear­lier, even be­fore the war, Bill (Dandy) Estabrooks was a star with the im­port-laden Syd­ney Mil­lion­aires. Then Muir Mack­in­non be­came a reg­u­lar de­fence­man with the Amherst Ram­blers of the Mar­itime Se­nior Hockey League.

Ethan Cross­man has had brief stints in the Q League but has yet to earn a full-time berth with Que­bec Rem­parts.

Thus it seems that Kyle Ward has marked out a fu­ture that should prove ben­e­fi­cial. En­joy­ing the game he loves while earn­ing a pro­fes­sional de­gree that should serve him well through­out his life. We at The Write Call wish him well.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.