The Fredericton Red Wings are a brand-new entity in the Maritime Hockey League.
Fredericton’s brain trust wanted to ensure the Red Wings have a veteran presence between the pipes as the junior A franchise opens its doors for the 2019-20 season out of the Grant Harvey Centre.
General manager Brent Grant believes his squad has hit the Jack pot with a hometown goaltender he knows well.
‘We as a family, of course, are excited, but we are just as excited to secure a goalie in his fourth year in the league, who has stayed committed to his goal of pursing a championship,’ said Grant. ‘It’s a deal that is going to help us be competitive out of the gate.’
Grant’s son, Jack, is joining Fredericton after spending the 2018-19 with the Cowichan Capitals of the British Columbia Hockey League.
The Capitals’ franchise is based in Duncan. The Red Wings dealt future considerations to the Capitals to bring Grant home.
‘We had the opportunity to bring Jack into our organization and provide the stability a veteran junior A goaltender can bring to a program like ours starting out in a new city with plenty of new faces,’ said team president Roger Shannon. ‘Jack is familiar with the MHL and knows a lot of the players in arenas across the league. It’s an opportunity for him to come back home and be a part of what we believe is going to be a challenging, but exciting season. We all truly understand the significance of having a veteran quality goaltender in net especially in your inaugural season. It is a bonus that Jack brings real leadership and strong character to our room.’
Jack Grant is not a stranger to the MHL.
He appeared in 56 games over parts of three seasons with the former Woodstock Slammers and St. Stephen Aces. Grant was dealt from the Aces just over a year ago to Cowichan.
The 20-year-old had an 8-22 mark and 3.55 goals against average last season in the BCHL with the Capitals, a team that finished with a 17-35-0-6 record in the 17-team circuit.
Grant was a draft pick of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Moncton Wildcats following his standout career with the New Brunswick Midget AAA Hockey League’s Fredericton Canadiens. He was the 2017-18 scholastic player of the year in the MHL during his time with the Aces.
Although he is happy to be home, Grant admitted there wasn’t an initial rush to anticipate he would be wearing Red Wing colours when his father told him what was unfolding when Shannon and his group purchased the St. Stephen franchise earlier this spring.
With the goal of playing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level and a love playing with Cowichan, Grant called it a ‘hockey decision,’ initially.
‘I learned about things that were unfolding early with the team coming to Fredericton and Dad coming in as general manager,’ said Jack Grant. ‘I had such a great time in the BCHL and initially I will admit I was not super sold on coming home. There was a thought process and the more I thought about it, it was becoming a best option for me. Once the focus started on coming home, I can’t wait for the season to begin.’
Grant will study at the University of New Brunswick in order to ensure the NCAA is still a viable goal. Players must be enrolled as a full-time student at a recognized university before they are 21 years old to remain eligible to play at the American University level.
Grant turns 21 next January.
The coming home angle is nice for the off-season, but Grant knows wins and losses will take the place of the feel-good story once the puck is dropped.
‘The pressure of coming back home to play is a privilege,’ he said. ‘I’m incredibly fortunate to still be playing hockey at 20. We’re going to have a solid organization and I look forward to training camp.’
The junior A brand hasn’t been viewed in Fredericton in decades and the look is much different now when the Red Wings were members of the New Brunswick Junior A Hockey League.
Grant understands it may be an adjustment for the first-time fan of the MHL-brand, but he said those in the Capital region will grasp the level of play quickly.
‘We have midget AAA and then it jumps to university hockey, so the fans didn’t have that in-between brand of hockey to watch and that’s a big jump between those two levels,’ Grant said. ‘The Maritime league is very competitive, and players will go on to play NCAA, university in Canada and major junior. If I’m a fan, I’d be excited to see the Red Wings and the league play.’
Fredericton will play out of the East Link North Division.
The Red Wings will join Campbellton Tigers, Edmundston Blizzard, Grand Falls Rapids, Miramichi Timberwolves and Summerside Western Capitals of Prince Edward Island in the division.
The East Link South Division features Amherst Ramblers, Pictou County Weeks Crushers, South Shore Lumberjacks of Bridgewater, NS, Truro Bearcats, Valley Wildcats of Berwick, NS, and Yarmouth Mariners.
Fredericton will open its training camp in August and prepare for pre-season action later that month and into early September.
The Red Wings will mark the return of junior A hockey to the Capital on Friday, Sept. 20.
For further information on the Red Wings, the MHL or season ticket information, visit frederictonredwings.com or contact director of sales and marketing Kyle Holder at firstname.lastname@example.org or Liz Shannon at email@example.com