The Espanola Express franchise has announced that there are seven new faces signed onto the hockey team so far, for the upcoming Northern Ontario Jr. A Hockey League 2019-20 season, as well as four returning players.
The returning players are Hunter Halcrow, who set a new team record last season for most points by a rookie defenceman; right wing Zach Matyasik; Dylan Labelle, another right winger who is fully recovered from an upper body injury; and assistant captain and defenceman Collin McGuire.
The seven new signees are: Robert Brisson, Josh Boucher, Josh McVeigh, Jakob Fahey, Cameron Walker, Nicholas Faught and AJ Favot.
Brisson, from Embrun, Ontario, played defence with the Rayside Balfour Canadians, who are also part of the NOJHL, and the North Bay Trappers Midget AAA, part of the Great North Midget League (GNML). With Rayside he had one assist in 16 games and with the Trappers he scored twice and added helpers on five other goals. The Trappers were the 2018-19 champions of the GNML.
Boucher joins the team from Sudbury. The right winger, who can also play defence, led the Lo Ellen Park Secondary School Knights to a SDSSAA Division I title and a NOSSA Championship appearance. During that season he had 16 goals and 15 assists in 17 games.
He has also spent time with the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves Midget AAA team.
Boucher and Fahey were teammates with the Copper Cliff Redmen Midget AA hockey club during the 2017-18 season, when they won the Nickel District and Northern Ontario Hockey Association Championships. They were also semi-finalists at the Ontario Hockey Federation Midget AA Championship.
Fahey, a left wing and power forward from Lively, has shown plenty of grit and physicality. He spent last season with the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves Midget AAA team, scoring eight goals and six assists while helping them qualify for their fourth straight GNML final.
He also demonstrated a love for competing, being part of two NOHA championship teams, the aforementioned Copper Cliff Redmen, 2017-18 season, and the Nickel City Jr. Sons Bantam AA team, 2015-16 season.
McVeigh hails from Mississauga. He spent his last season with the St. George Ravens Jr. A Hockey Club of the Greater Metro Hockey League, tallying five goals and 10 assists in 32 games.
He plays both forward and defence, which will be a definite asset to the team. He and Dylan Labelle have played together before, previously teaming up in March 2018 for a spring showcase in the Greater Toronto area.
Also from Sudbury is 16-year-old Cameron Walker, a centre/left wing player. Walker spent last season with the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget AAA team in the GNML. He amassed 11 goals and 13 assists in 24 games with the team, leading them to a NOHA Minor Midget AAA title. He was also an alternate captain.
As an affiliate player with the Express, Walker played three games earning one assist against the Rayside Balfour Canadians on Feb. 28. After the season concluded Walker was drafted by the Kingston Frontenacs as the first selection in the ninth round of the OHL priority selection. He is also the first affiliate player in Express history to be selected.
Faught is a left winger from Garson. He played for the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves along with Favot and Fahey. Last season, he led the team in scoring 11 times and adding 14 helpers in 36 games in the Greater North Midget League.
During the playoffs he tallied four goals and five assists in 10 games to help them reach the league finals. As an alternate captain, playing in one game for the NOJHL on the Rayside Balfour Canadians team, he scored against the Express. Now, he will be teammates again with Favot for the fifth consecutive season.
Favot is the third new signee hailing from Sudbury. As a previous player for the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves Midget team he scored seven times and added seven helpers in 28 games. He has also played in the NOJHL, beginning the season with the French River Rapids, scoring once and adding five assists in 30 regular season games.
After concluding his Minor Midget season in 2018, Favot was a priority selection of the Niagara Ice Dogs of the Ontario Hockey League in the 14th round, 272nd overall. He was also a teammate of former Express player Chase Lammi during that season on the Sudbury Wolves Minor Midget AAA team.
Lammi was a standout for the Express team last season, accepting a commitment to play for the St. Lawrence Saints NCAA D1 team for the 2022-23 season.
Another former Express player with commitments to a university level team is Bret McInall who joined the Laurentian University Voyageurs U Sports team in Sudbury for the 2019-20 season.
Last season, the Milton native set an Express record for most goals and point in a season with 25 goals and 49 point in 52 games played.
McInall is the first Espanola Express alumni to commit to a Canadian University that is a member of the U Sports and Ontario University Athletics (OUA) rankings. To date, he is the only player from the NOJHL to commit to a U Sports program. At Laurentian he is planning on enrolling in the business administration program and earning an H.BA