Ward a solidifying force with Saint John Sea Dogs
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.