Three CBN play­ers drafted in Que­bec league

Three Con­cep­tion Bay North play­ers se­lected in QMJHL draft

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

Three play­ers from the Con­cep­tion Bay North area were se­lected in the 2017 Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League en­try draft ear­lier this month. Lead­ing the way was Bay Roberts na­tive Daw­son Mercer, pic­tured above, who was se­lected eighth over­all by the Drum­mondville Voltigeurs. Kyle Pet­ten of Co­ley’s Point and Daw­son’s cousin Zachary Ben­nett from Bay Roberts were also picked up in the draft.

Just about ev­ery young hockey player at some point, no mat­ter their skill level, dreams of lac­ing up their skates and step­ping onto the ice wear­ing the jer­sey of their favourite NHL team.

For those with any sort of shot at play­ing pro­fes­sion­ally, there are iden­ti­fi­able step­ping stones to con­sider. One of those is the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League.

Ear­lier this month, three play­ers from the Con­cep­tion Bay North area — all prod­ucts of the Bay Arena Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion — were drafted into the Q. Daw­son Mercer of Bay Roberts, who re­ceived a lot of pre-draft at­ten­tion from scouts, was picked in the first round, go­ing eighth over­all to the Drum­mondville Voltigeurs.

Kyle Pet­ten of Co­ley’s Point heard his name called in the sixth round, 95th over­all, by the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads. Then in the 13th round, the Voltigeurs picked up Mercer’s cousin, Zachary Ben­nett of Bay Roberts.

“I’m very pleased to be taken high in the draft to a team that showed so much in­ter­est in me,” Mercer told The Com­pass last week, shar­ing a phone call with his cousin Ben­nett.

“Af­ter sit­ting down for quite some time it was a big re­lief to get my name called by the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads,” said Pet­ten, who like Mercer at­tended the draft in Saint John, N.B. on June 3. Hal­i­fax was the first team to speak with Pet­ten back in Jan­uary of this year. He played this past sea­son with the Tri Pen Os­prey.

Ben­nett, who is a year older than Mercer and Pet­ten, was el­i­gi­ble for last year’s draft.

“It felt great, es­pe­cially get­ting picked by such a great or­ga­ni­za­tion with a good coach­ing staff,” Ben­nett said.

Mercer and Ben­nett spent this past sea­son to­gether play­ing for the un­der-18 Bishop’s Col­lege var­sity team in Sher­brooke, Que.

“Both of us were room­mates this year, and we’re re­ally close as cousins any­way, but it just brought us to­gether so much closer,” said Mercer.

“It was def­i­nitely a com­pletely new at­mos­phere with Daw­son be­ing in my room,” added Ben­nett, who is fin­ish­ing his sec­ond year at the Que­bec prep school.

Zachary’s dad, Bo Ben­nett, coached all three play­ers through al­most ev­ery level of their de­vel­op­ment. He most re­cently coached Mercer and Pet­ten at the QMJHL’s Ga­torade Ex­cel­lence Chal­lenge in April, where both play­ers suited up for Team New­found­land and Labrador.

“We’ve had a spe­cial group here,” Bo Ben­nett told The Com­pass, also mak­ing spe­cial men­tion of Shai­lynn Snow, the Clarke’s Beach na­tive vy­ing for a spot on the na­tional ju­nior women’s team.

“This group of four have been re­lent­less for their pur­suit of where they are,” he said. “They’ve put the time into the gyms. These kids have been of­fice train­ing and on-ice train­ing since they were eight, nine, 10 years old, and that hasn’t wa­vered. It does show all the kids and par­ents around that if you put the work in, there is suc­cess down the road. These guys and girls have been seen beat­ing the pave­ment here in Bay Roberts for many years.”

At this point, Mercer and Pet­ten are both look­ing to suit up in the Que­bec league start­ing this fall — Mercer made that known to teams prior to the draft.

“I think they started to re­build last year,” Pet­ten said of his new team. “So I think there’s a few spots open. I’m just go­ing to work re­ally hard this sum­mer and be ready for train­ing camp.”

Ben­nett, who was a late se­lec­tion, is still weigh­ing his op­tions. He is sched­uled to at­tend a col­lege com­bine in Ot­tawa later this month. Play­ers with ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing in the Q are not el­i­gi­ble to com­pete at the NCAA level.

“The Q is def­i­nitely an op­tion, for sure,” he said. “I’m go­ing to think long and hard about it over the sum­mer and make some de­ci­sions.”

Bo Ben­nett will train his son and nephew over the sum­mer in prepa­ra­tion for next sea­son, while Pet­ten is set to work with a trainer in St. John’s sev­eral days a week.

“It does show all the kids and par­ents around that if you put the work in, there is suc­cess down the road.” — Bo Ben­nett

VIN­CENT ETHIER/QMJHL PHOTO

Daw­son Mercer pulls a Drum­mondville Voltigeurs jer­sey over his shoul­ders af­ter be­ing se­lected by the team in the first round of the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League draft June 3 in Saint John, N.B.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Daw­son Mercer, left, and cousin Zachary Ben­nett played to­gether on the un­der-18 var­sity team for Bishop’s Col­lege in Sher­brooke, Que.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Kyle Pet­ten wears a Hal­i­fax Moose­heads jer­sey stand­ing next to his par­ents, Ja­son and Carolyn.

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