Two Newfoundlanders were among the first half-dozen selections in the 2014 QMJHL entry draft, held Saturday in Sherbrooke, Que.
Goaltender Evan Fitzpatrick of St. John’s was taken fourth overall by the Sherbrooke Phoenix and was the first netminder chosen, while forward Jordan Maher of Gander was the sixth overall pick by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
In all, eight Newfoundlanders were selected.
Fitzpatrick's Newbridge teammate, defenceman Luke Green of Nova Scotia, was the first overall pick by the Saint John Sea Dogs.
The six-foot-two, 194-pound Fitzpatrick played major midget in Nova Scotia last season with the Newbridge Academy (Sackville) Gladiators, and has been described by QMJHL scouting director Pascal Legault as a player who his bound to grow, in many ways.
“People are talking about him ending up at around 6-foot-5 when he’s done growing,” said Legault about Fitzpatrick, who won 12 of 18 starts last season, posting a 2.31 GAA and a .920 save percentage in the process.
“Despite his considerable size, Evan is very quick in his crease. His lateral moves are fast and smooth. I have no doubts that he will make an impact in the QMJHL.
“He’s a hybrid style goalie who has a very calm demeanour.”
Fitzpatrick was drafted where he was ranked before the draft. Maher, who played for the provincial champion Central IcePak in the Newfoundland and Labrador major midget league last season, went one position higher than his pre-draft rating.
A five-foot-11, 175-pound centre, the 16-year-old Maher was the provincial midget league MVP and co-leading scorer with 47 points on 23 goals and 24 assists in 24 games.
“He has pinpoint accuracy and is the real deal. He knows how to take over at both ends of the ice. He is also very consistent from shift to shift and is a battler,’ said Legault, adding that it’s Maher’s work ethic that sets him apart from other players.
Forward Jesse Sutton of Mount Pearl, who led the St. John’s Privateers of the provincial midget league in scoring last season with 20 goals and 32 assists, was the third Newfoundlander selected, getting tabbed by the Quebec Remparts in the third round, both overall.
Other players from this province who were drafted Saturday were goaltender Luke House of Corner Brook and the major midget Western Kings (third round, 55th overall by the Charlottetown Islanders); Corner Brook native Johnny Jones, a forward who played midget hockey in Nova Scotia with the Halifax McDonald’s last season (fifth round, 86th overall by the Gatineau Olympiques); big six-two, 200-pound forward Nicholas Roberts of the major midget St. John’s Maple Leafs (11th round, 188th overall by Acadie-Bathurst); even bigger (six-three, 215-pound) defenceman Shayne Dominie, a native of Harbour Breton who played for the IcePak in 2013-14 (11th round, 190th overall by the Moncton Wildcats); and forward Brady Griffin-Hefford of Western (13th round, 233rd overall by Charlottetown).
Also of note, Andrew Dumaresque a forward with Cole Harbour of the Nova Scotia major midget league and the son of Kirby Dumaresque, a longtime standout in the Newfoundland senior ranks, was drafted in the 12th round, 205th overall by Charlottetown.
The QMJHL draft has always had a reputation as being a trade-fest, and this year’s was no exception. In fact of the first 100 picks, only 22 were made the teams that originally held the selection.
One of the many draft-day trades involved Paradise native and forward Andrew Ryan, who was dealt to Acadie-Bathurst by the Halifax Mooseheads in exchange for a third- and a fifth-round pick.
Ryan, who had 27 goals, 55 points and a plus-28 rating in 56 games for the Mooseheads last season, is entering his overage season.