Trade to Moose­heads means Jor­dan Maher in line to play in Me­mo­rial Cup again

CHL cham­pion Acadie-Bathurst Ti­tan deal Gan­der na­tive to Hal­i­fax, where he would play as an over­ager

The Pilot - - Sports - BRENDAN MCCARTHY brendan.mccarthy@thetele­gram.com

Less than 24 hours af­ter hoist­ing the Me­mo­rial Cup as a ma­jor ju­nior hockey cham­pion, New­found­lan­der Jor­dan Maher found out he’ll al­most cer­tainly will get a chance to do so again.

May 28, Stephane Ler­oux of RDS re­ported Maher, a 20-year-old from Gan­der, is be­ing traded from the Me­mo­rial Cup cham­pion AcadieBathurst Ti­tan to the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads, along with fel­low for­ward An­toine Mo­rand.

Hal­i­fax is send­ing draft picks to the Ti­tan in the deal, de­signed to bol­ster the Moose­heads’ lineup as they pre­pare to host the 2019 Me­mo­rial Cup.

Maher has spent his en­tire four-year Que­bec Ma­jor Ju­nior Hockey League ca­reer with Bathurst, which made him a first-round draft pick in 2014. In 255 reg­u­lar-sea­son QMJHL games, the Cen­tral Ice Pak mid­get prod­uct. has 66 goals and 107 as­sists for 173 points and has gained the rep­u­ta­tion as an ef­fec­tive two-way for­ward; he had a plus-36 rat­ing to go along 19 goals and 42 as­sists this sea­son.

Maher added 10 points (2G, 8A) in 20 QMJHL play­off games and had an as­sist and an even plus-mi­nus rat­ing in the Ti­tan’s four game at the Me­mo­rial Cup tour­na­ment in Regina, where he was used mostly in a check­ing role.

Maher could turn pro this fall or em­bark on a Cana­dian col­le­giate ca­reer, but there was al­ways the think­ing he was a prime can­di­date to re­turn to the ‘Q’ as an over­age player — each club is per­mit­ted to carry three play­ers who are 20 at the start of the sea­son.

The Moose­heads ob­vi­ously saw him as an ideal over­ager, too.

Maher now be­gins the third New­found­lan­der on the Hal­i­fax ros­ter, join­ing forwards Joel Bishop of St. John’s and Kyle Pet­ten of Bay Roberts.

There could be a fourth as the Moose­heads are known to be woo­ing cen­tre Alex Ne­whook of St. John’s, who played in the Bri­tish Columbia Hockey League this past sea­son, was named the top rookie in the Cana­dian ju­nior A ranks and is seen as a top prospect for the 2019 NHL En­try Draft.

The 17-year-old Ne­whook has com­mit­ted to at­tend Bos­ton Col­lege, but that wouldn’t be un­til 2019 at the ear­li­est. He could change his mind and join the Moose­heads, who took a gam­ble and made him a third-round pick in the QMJHL draft last June.

For the Ti­tan, Mon­day’s trade with Hal­i­fax rep­re­sents the start of what should be a ma­jor re­build.

Bathurst made many trades be­fore and dur­ing the sea­son in an ef­fort to strengthen its lineup, in­clud­ing the ac­qui­si­tion of goal­tender and St. John’s na­tive Evan Fitz­patrick in Jan­uary. But while all the wheel­ing and deal­ing cer­tainly worked out, the Ti­tan will have a lot of holes to fill this fall.

The 20-year-old Fitz­patrick, who pitched a 28-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the host Regina Pats in Sun­day’s Me­mo­rial Cup fi­nal, is set to turn pro with the St. Louis Blues, who made him a sec­ond-round draft pick in 2016 and signed him to an en­try-level deal last year.

Another St. John’s na­tive, rear­guard Adam Hol­well, who scored the game-win­ning goal Sun­day, is one of three over­agers def­i­nitely grad­u­at­ing from Bathurst — cap­tain Jef­fery Tru­chon-Viel and QMJHL top de­fence­man Olivier Gali­peau (another mid-sea­son trade ac­qui­si­tion) are the oth­ers. And Philadel­phia Fly­ers first-round draft pick Ger­man Rub­stov and Me­mo­rial Cup scor­ing hero Sa­muel As­selin, two other play­ers picked up in trades dur­ing the sea­son, are el­i­gi­ble to turn pro like Fitz­patrick.

But that cre­ates open­ing for play­ers like de­fence­man Zack Ben­nett of Bay Roberts, who was lit­tle-used by the Ti­tan af­ter be­ing ac­quired in yet another in-sea­son trade. The 17-year-old Ben­nett (he turns 18 in five weeks), only played in nine games as a QMJHL rookie in 2017-18 (seven with Drum­mondville, two with Acadie-Bathurst), but is likely to much, much busier with the Ti­tan in 2017-18. And even though Ben­nett didn’t play in the post-sea­son, he was part of the Bathurst ros­ter through­out, trav­elled to Regina for the Me­mo­rial Cup and will be of­fi­cially listed as a mem­ber of the 2017-18 Cana­dian Hockey League cham­pi­ons.

Clarenville na­tive Liam Leonard won’t. The 18-yearold for­ward did skate in one game for Acadie-Bathurst in early Jan­uary, but spent the rest of the sea­son in the Mar­itime Hockey League and wasn’t with the Ti­tan in the play­offs or Me­mo­rial Cup. How­ever, Leonard, who did win a MHL cham­pi­onship this sea­son with the Edmundston Bl­iz­zard, is another who is line for much more QMJHL play­ing time in Bathurst next sea­son.

CHL PHOTO

Jor­dan Maher (left), is shown in action for the Acadie-Bathurst Ti­tan against the Swift Cur­rent Bron­cos dur­ing the Me­mo­rial Cup in Regina. The day af­ter the Ti­tan won the Me­mo­rial Cup, word emerged that they were trad­ing Maher, who would be an over­age ju­nior next sea­son, to the Hal­i­fax Moose­heads. Hal­i­fax is host­ing the 2019 Me­mo­rial Cup

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