Hounds Exit to Soo Indians

The reasons are not exactly clear. And really, why would anyone want to say anything publicly for fear of possible reprisal? But the fact is that no less than four local lads who suited up for the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League in 2022-2023 have opted to exit the program to sign with the Soo Indians of the Under 18 Tier 1 Hockey Federation League ahead of the 2023-2024 season.

The whispers are out there. Anyone even remotely involved with minor hockey on the Ontario side of the St. Mary’s River has heard the talk of why four pretty good players have chosen to move on from the U18 AAA Jr. Greyhounds to the U18 AAA Indians. As for Hockey News North, we will stay away from any crossfire and mud slinging and instead focus on the players involved.

As for the Indians and their brain trust of management and coaching staff, what they are saying is that they are all too happy to be able to have signed the four players in question following a recent open tryout camp.

For the record, Mike Kaunisto, who is the general manager of the Michigan-based Indians, has officially confirmed the signing of goalie Nathan Maguire, defenseman Tyler Neveau and forwards Deven Jones McDonald and Carter Huckson to Hockey News North. All four players have 2007 birth dates — and two of them were chosen at the recent 2023 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.

• Maguire, a slender tender who had a 1.69 goals against average and four shutouts for the Great North regular season champion U18 Jr. Greyhounds in ’22-23, was a seventh round pick of the Flint Firebirds at the recent OHL priority selections draft.

• A hulking forward at 6-foot-1, 180 pounds, Jones McDonald was picked by the Oshawa Generals in the 11th round of the recent OHL priority selections draft. Regular season and playoffs included for the U18 Jr. Greyhounds in 2022-2023, Jones McDonald had 16 goals, 15 assists, 31 points while showing signs of a power forward.

• A hard-working forward, Huckson came through with six goals, nine assists, 15 points in 28 regular season games for the U18 Jr. Greyhounds in ’22-23 and then clicked for a goal and an assist in five playoff matches.

• And Neveau had two goals, five assists, seven points in 17 regular season games for the U18 Jr. Greyhounds in ’22-23 and followed that up with five assists in five playoff outings from his defense post.

The foursome is poised to join an Indians team that features a pair of fellow Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario residents on its staff — assistant coach Jerry Lortie and goalie coach Terry Barbeau. Both Lortie and — especially — Barbeau have deep ties to the game.

Lortie is a long-time coach within the ranks of the Soo Pee Wee Hockey League and Sault Major Hockey Association who learned the game from his dad, the late Gerry (Pops) Lortie. Meanwhile, the venerable, ageless Barbeau has been a goalie coach of good repute for both the Soo Greyhounds and Saginaw Spirit of the OHL as well as the Lake Superior State University Lakers of the Division 1, National Collegiate Athletic Association.

And long-time, reputable Michigan Soo hockey coach John Ferroni is the bench boss of the Indians.

Randy Russon, Contributor
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