Hockey play­ers ready for ju­nior sea­son

Three play­ers from Bay Roberts area earn spots in Que­bec league

The Compass - - Front page - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON ed­i­tor@cb­n­com­

Last week was a pretty great one for three ju­nior hockey play­ers from the Bay Roberts area. Zachary Ben­nett, Daw­son Mercer (pic­tured above) and Kyle Pet­ten learned they’ll be on the ros­ter for their re­spec­tive teams when the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League reg­u­lar sea­son gets un­der­way this fall.

Three young hockey play­ers from Con­cep­tion Bay North are tak­ing the next step to­wards play­ing the sport they love pro­fes­sion­ally.

Last week, Zachary Ben­nett, Daw­son Mercer and Kyle Pet­ten all found out they sur­vived train­ing camp and will suit up for their re­spec­tive teams in the Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League when reg­u­lar sea­son ac­tion starts this fall.

Ben­nett and Mercer, cousins from Bay Roberts, have played with each other through­out their ca­reers and now find them­selves play­ing for the Drum­mondville Voltigeurs. Last sea­son, they both played on the un­der-18 Bishop’s Col­lege var­sity team in Sher­brooke, Que. Fi­nal cuts to the Voltigeurs were made last Monday.

“The most over­all ex­cite­ment never came from just mak­ing the team — it was the fact we’re go­ing to be able to spend more time to­gether,” said Ben­nett. “We’re go­ing to be con­tin­u­ing our play­ing ca­reers to­gether, even longer. We’ve been raised like broth­ers since day one, so it’s great that we’re go­ing to get to con­tinue this far into our hockey ca­reer.”

Pet­ten, a 16-year-old cen­tre from Co­ley’s Point, will lace up his skates as a mem­ber of the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads. The team cut five play­ers last Thursday to fi­nal­ize its ros­ter for 2017-18.

“Just be­fore prac­tice I found out about the full ros­ter,” Pet­ten told The Com­pass Fri­day, hav­ing re­turned home for the long week­end. “I was pretty ex­cited.”

Mercer was a highly-touted prospect head­ing into camp. The 15-year-old cen­tre (he turns 16 in Oco­to­ber) was picked eighth over­all in the 2017 en­try draft.

“Last year, I was the youngest (player) too,” Mercer said, adding that does not daunt him in the least bit.

Ben­nett, on the other hand, could be con­sid­ered more of a sur­prise to make the team. The 17-year-old de­fence­man was picked in the 13th round of the 2017 draft, one year af­ter he went un­s­e­lected in the draft.

“It was a pretty great feel­ing, hon­estly,” said Ben­nett. “Coming into camp, you’re sort of the un­der­dog mak­ing the team, so it felt great.”

Ben­nett’s alarm clock was set for noon Monday, but he re­ceived an early morn­ing phone call telling him to head to the rink for 8:50 a.m.

“I hon­estly thought I was go­ing to be told some bad news, and then they let me know I was on the team,” he said, adding it was a nice way to start the day.

Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease, Pet­ten “played his way onto the team af­ter a strong train­ing camp.” He was se­lected in the sixth round of the 2017 QMJHL en­try draft fol­low­ing a strong sea­son with the Tri Pen Os­prey of the New­found­land and Labrador Ma­jor Mid­get Hockey League.

“I had a lit­tle meet­ing with the coaches be­fore the prac­tice, and they said they liked my con­sis­tency dur­ing the week and my bat­tle ef­fort and the way I play,” said Pet­ten, who will likely dress as a winger this sea­son.

Mercer finds the at­mos­phere of play­ing for the Voltigeurs con­sid­er­ably dif­fer­ent from what he’s used to, par­tic­u­larly on the train­ing side of things.

“Ev­ery­thing is there for you, and what­ever you need done, the trainer is there to help you with physio and ev­ery­thing,” said Mercer, who also likes the fact they can spend as much ex­tra time on the ice as they need af­ter prac­tice if they want to work on spe­cific skills.

“You’re treated like pros in ev­ery sense of the way,” added Ben­nett. “You’re ex­pected to act like pros as well.”

All three play­ers credit the work they put in over the sum­mer with help­ing them make it through train­ing camp. Ben­nett and Mercer both worked with Zachary’s dad, coach and trainer Bo Ben­nett, while Pet­ten trained with cham­pion curler Mark Ni­chols.

Look­ing ahead to the up­com­ing sea­son, Mercer hopes to con­trib­ute of­fen­sively as much as he can, though he ac­knowl­edges that will take some work given he’s play­ing against larger, stronger op­po­nents. Ben­nett is look­ing to im­prove his over­all game and move up on the depth chart. Pet­ten’s plan is to work hard and keep play­ing the way he did in train­ing camp.

“Just be­cause I made the team doesn’t mean I stop now. I just keep work­ing my hard­est,” he said.


Kyle Pet­ten in ac­tion with the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads dur­ing a pre-sea­son game.


Zachary Ben­nett felt like a bit of an un­der­dog head­ing into train­ing camp.


Daw­son Mercer was a first-round pick of the Drum­mondville Voltigeurs this past sum­mer.

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