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After finishing his QMJHL career, Mount Pearl native decides to suit up with Panthers at the collegiate level
There were many factors that led Newfoundlander Jesse Sutton to choose University of Prince Edward Island to extend his hockey career and further his education.
Familiarity was not the least of them.
The 21-year-old Mount Pearl native attended Andrews Hockey Growth Programs on the UPEI campus as a kid and later worked there during the summer. As well, his family advisor, Gander native Doug Shepherd, was based on P.E.I. when they connected five years ago.
“I kind of found P.E.I. was a lot like home,” Sutton said.
When he was seeking information about the team and campus, Sutton was able to call on a few other Newfoundlanders.
He spent a couple of seasons as a teammate of Marystown’s Andrew Picco when both were with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, and he knows Nathan Yetman of St. John’s from ball hockey in Newfoundland.
Both Picco and Yetman played for the Panthers last season.
“Moving on to the next chapter. . . it was important for me to find a place where I was comfortable with and, obviously, that aspect of knowing people just makes it a lot easier.” — Jesse Sutton
As well, one of Sutton’s best buddies, Charlottetown Islanders graduate Jordan Maher, has also committed to UPEI for the fall.
Finally, the school also offers a field of study (kinesiology) Sutton wanted to pursue.
“I just thought it was a really good fit,” he said.
Most teenagers enter the major junior draft without much say on where they end up, but when that part of their career comes to an end, they do get a chance to determine their future location.
“Coming from major junior, you want to go somewhere where you're going to develop and hockey is taken seriously. The development aspect was a huge aspect for me obviously because I wanted to go to a place where I am going to get better,” said Sutton, who split last season between the Chicoutimi Sagueneens and Acadie-Bathurst Titan.
“Moving on to the next chapter. . . it was important for me to find a place where I was comfortable with and, obviously, that aspect of knowing people just makes it a lot easier.”
Panthers head coach Forbes MacPherson said while previous connections aren’t always the determining factor for players considering schools, it certainly helps.
“Everybody, when they’re being recruited, is trying to find the best situation for them individually but if they can make that happen with buddies or familiar faces, it just increases that level of excitement and comfort,” said MacPherson.
Sutton is a six-foot-two, 200-pound forward who describes himself as a playmaker who is good in the faceoff circle and responsible defensively.
“I like to use my speed,” he said. “I’m a big body and I protect the puck well.”
Sutton spent four years with Quebec before an off-season trade sent him to Chicoutimi, followed by a mid-season deal that saw him flipped to Bathurst.
In all, he had 18 goals and 46 points in 2018-19.
"He’s a guy that became very, very attractive to us very quickly." — Forbes MacPherson
In 2017-18, Sutton also had 46 points, including 22 goals, for the Remparts as a 19-year-old. That’s when Quebec’s season ended in a first-round playoff series against Charlottetown , one that went the full seven games.
Sutton had three goals, including two game-winners, in six games during the series but did not play the final contest. Sutton tore his medial collateral ligament (MCL) in Game 6. He played the rest of the game and took the warmup for Game 7 but was unable to play.
It was that series that put Sutton onto the Panthers’ radar.
“That was a really intense, competitive series between two really good teams,” MacPherson said. “We started to do our due diligence on Jesse then. He’s a guy that became very, very attractive to us very quickly.”
Size, competitive nature, ability to play in all situations, versatility, a strong work ethic and familiarity with P.E.I. were some of the attractions.
“When you put all those things together, it became kind of a no-brainer for us,” MacPherson said.
Sutton is training with Bob Thompson in St. John’s this summer in preparation for the upcoming Atlantic University Sport season. The Panthers went 15-14-1 to finish fourth in the seven-team conference in 2018-19. They lost to UNB in the semifinal.
“I know the AUS is a real strong, tough division,” Sutton said. “It’s all about getting bigger and stronger . . . and being ready for the next level.”
The Charlottetown Guardian
NEED TO KNOW
A look at the UPEI Panther; latest recruit, Jesse Sutton.
- Age: 21
- Size, position: Six-foot-two, 200-pound forward
- Hometown: Mount Pearl.
- Before UPEI: Sutton was drafted in the third-round (50th overall) by the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2014. After an injury-plagued rookie year, he played three full seasons with the Remparts before finishing his QMJHL season this past season with Chicoutimi and Acadie-Bathurst.