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Newfoundlander Zach Dean having a solid start to his major junior career

Gatineau Olympiques rookie Zach Dean will play for one of three Canadian entries at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Alberta and Saskatchewan early next month. — Gathineau Olympiques photo/Facebook
The Gatineau Olympiques selected Mount Pearl's Zachary Dean (left) with the fourth overall pick of the 2019 QMJHL draft. — Martin Roy/Le Droit — Gathineau Olympiques photo/Facebook - Facebook

Mount Pearl native Zachary Dean is fitting in nicely with the Gatineau Olympiques after that team made him the fourth overall pick in the 2019 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League midget draft.

With his parents — Trent and Kendra Dean — in the stands, the just-turned-17 Dean registered his first career major junior three-goal game with a hat trick against the Halifax Mooseheads in a QMJHL tilt Sunday night.

Dean was named the game’s first star.

The struggling Olympiques won 8-3 in Gatineau, Que., but still sit 16-24-3-0, the second-worst record in the league behind the 8-28-3-4 Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Gatineau is clearly in a rebuilding phase, and Dean figures to be a big part of the rebuild.

The slick centreman has 11 goals and 15 assists through 36 games, sitting fourth in Gatineau team scoring. He’s the fourth highest-scoring rookie in the QMJHL.

Grandson of Newfoundland and Labrador Hockey Hall of Famer Bob Dean, the first Newfoundlander to win the Memorial Cup, Zach Dean has seven points (three goals, four assists) in his last five games.

Dean registered 89 points for the Toronto Young Nationals midget squad last year, and captained the Newfoundland and Labrador entry at the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer, Alta.

During the 2017-18 hockey season, he was the leading scorer and MVP of the provincial bantam AAA league while toiling for the Tri-Com Thunder.

Dean isn’t the only player from Newfoundland and Labrador enjoying a fine offensive campaign in the QMJHL.

Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts, fresh off winning the gold medal for Canada at the most recent world junior championship in the Czech Republic, is 25th overall in QMJHL scoring despite missing a lot of games during the world juniors. Mercer, recently traded from the Drummondville Voltigeurs to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens, who are loading up for a run at the President’s Cup league championship, has 18 goals and 45 points in 28 games.

Third-year winger Brett Budgell of St. John’s has 17 goals and 35 points in 46 games for the Charlottetown Islanders. Budgell was NHL draft-eligible last season, but was overlooked in the draft. He’s in a good position this season as an undrafted free agent. A strong major junior campaign this year could result in a free-agent contract or, at worst, an invite to an NHL camp next season.

Mark Rumsey of St. John’s, recently traded to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan from the Moncton Wildcats for fellow Newfoundlander Liam Leonard of Clarenville, has eight goals and 12 helpers in 35 games, in this his second full QMJHL season. The 19-year-old Leonard has three goals and seven assists in 30 combined games with the Titan and Wildcats.

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