Andrew Picco’s healthy outlook

Robin
Robin Short
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He and fellow Oceanic Tyler Boland are among 17 Newfoundlanders in ‘Q’

Andrew Picco, one-half of a rookie Newfoundland tandem with the Rimouski Oceanic, is feeling healthy these days and ready to play a full season after sitting out half of 2012-13.

Picco, from Marystown, and St. John’s native Tyler Boland made the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Oceanic out of training camp, no small feat considering Rimouski was the fourth-ranked team in the pre-season Canadian Hockey League rankings, behind No. 1 London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League, the QMJHL’s Baie-Comeau Drakkar and the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

Picco and Boland are two of 17 Newfoundlanders on QMJHL opening-day rosters.

The mere fact he’s on the ice and skating is in itself good news for Picco, the big defenceman from Marystown.

Picco played in Minnesota the past two years, with Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school. Last season, as a member of the under-16 team, Picco collided with a teammate in practice shortly after Christmas.

To add insult to injury, the following day when he was returning from the doctor’s office, the car in which he was riding struck a deer on a Faribault, Minn., road. Picco did not suffer any injuries, although doctors acknowledged the blow didn’t help an already-woozy Picco.

“There’s a huge difference in how I feel now and how I felt even six months ago,” said Picco, just 16 but already standing 6-3 and tipping the scales at 215 pounds.

“It’s all good now, and I’m thankful just to be back on the ice again.”

Picco was the Oceanic’s fifth-round (90th overall) pick in the June midget draft.

Boland, 17, arrived at Rimouski’s training camp as the team’s 10th round pick (180th overall) in June, but beat the odds by winning a roster spot.

“I was told coming into camp this team would be very difficult to make,” said Boland, who scored 15 goals and 27 points in 23 provincial major midget games with the St. John’s Maple Leafs last season.

“This is not a team that’s rebuilding.

“So I came in here as an underdog. The game is much faster (than major midget), and the players are stronger. But after a couple of exhibition games, I started to settle in, and now I feel I belong.”

Rimouski is located near the mouth of the St. Lawrence River, on the south side of that waterway. A city of about 45,000, Rimouski is predominantly French, but Boland and Picco are managing to get by with the help of their Oceanic teammates, all of whom speak English.

In fact, Boland is staying with Labrador native Leona Lavallee. Lavallee and her family also billeted two other Newfoundlanders who toiled for the Oceanic — Mark Tobin of St. John’s and Ryane Clowe of Fermeuse.

It was in Lavallee’s kitchen, in fact, that Clowe signed his first pro contract with the San Jose Sharks.

Boland was drafted second overall by the Bridgewater Lumberjacks in the Maritime Junior Hockey League’s draft, held a week after the QMJHL lottery.

“But my goal since last year,” he said, “was to play in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.”

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Great start for Drover with Wildcats

Cody Drover of Grand Falls-Windsor had memorable Quebec Major Junior Hockey League debut for the Moncton Wildcats last Thursday night.

Drover, the MVP in the Newfoundland Major Midget Hockey League last season for the Central IcePak with 18 goals and 20 assists in 23 games, scored twice in the Wildcats’ 4-0 win over the Halifax Mooseheads.

Drover was one of 17 Newfoundlanders on opening-day QMJHL rosters. There could be 18, depending on what happens to Lucas Batt of Lewisporte. Batt played parts of the past two seasons with Moncton and the Victoriaville Tigres, but was cut by the Wildcats two weeks ago.

Highly-touted Nathan Noel of the Saint John Sea Dogs also scored in his first game, which was also his QMJHL debut after the Sea Dogs made the St. John’s native the third overall pick in the June draft.

Defenceman Michael Abbott of St. John’s had a goal and an assist for the Sea Dogs in their 5-3 win over the Wildcats. Noel and Abbott are two of four St. John’s natives on the Sea Dogs, joining Marcus Cuomo and Connor Donaghey.

A look at the Newfoundlanders in the QMJHL:

Name    Birthplace    Team    Position    2012-13 stats (GP-G-A-Pts-PIMS/Team

Aaron Hoyles    Gander    Blainville-Boisbriand Armada    Defence    66-0-6-6-104/Blainville Boisbriand

Clark Bishop    St. John’s    Cape Breton Screaming Eagles    Centre    58-8-14-22-33/Cape Breton

Nathan Yetman    Mount Pearl    Charlottetown Islanders    Centre    52-4-8-12-6/Charlottetown

Andrew Ryan    Paradise    Halifax Mooseheads    Left-wing    56-21-18-39-32/Halifax

Liam Hynes    Ferryland    Moncton Wildcats    Right-wing    Stats NA/The Hill Academy prep (Vaughan, Ont.)

Cody Drover    Grand Falls/Windsor    Moncton Wildcats    Left-wing    23-18-20-38-NA/Central IcePak major midget

Adam Holwell    St. John’s    Moncton Wildcats    Defence    Stats NA/Mississauga Senators midget minor

Kurt Etchegary    St. John’s    Quebec Remparts    Centre    31-9-16-25-56/Quebec

Cody Donaghey    St. John’s    Quebec Remparts    Defence    38-3-4-7-8/Quebec and Rouyn-Noranda

Tyler Boland    St. John’s    Rimouski Oceanic    Right-wing    23-15-12-27-NA/St. John’s Maple Leafs major midget

Andrew Picco    Marystown    Rimouski Oceanic    Defence    36-3-22-25-40/Shattuck St. Mary’s U.S. prep

Marcus Power    St. John’s    Rouyn-Noranda Huskies    Left-wing    66-17-42-59-30/Rouyn-Noranda

Marcus Cuomo    St. John’s    Saint John Sea Dogs    Left-wing    63-6-11-17-31/Saint John

Connor Donaghey    St. John’s    Saint John Sea Dogs    Right-wing    15-3-3-6-2/Saint John

Nathan Noel    St. John’s    Saint John Sea Dogs    Centre    52-10-40-50-41/Shattuck St. Mary’s U.S. prep

Michael Abbott    St. John’s    Saint John Sea Dogs    Defence    52-5-8-13-10/Saint John and Gatineau

Kris Hodge    C.B.S.    Shawinigan Cataractes    Centre    42-6-8-14-36/Shawinigan and Moncton

rshort@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League Western Hockey League.Picco Maple Leafs Maritime Junior Hockey League

Geographic location: Marystown, Minnesota, Faribault, Minn. St. Lawrence River Labrador

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