A few more familiar faces from last year’s junior hockey roster have signed on with the Hinton Timberwolves for the 2019-2020 season.
Defenceman Dawson Basnett, who served as captain for the Hinton Wildcats last season, is back in Hinton for another year on the blueline with the Timberwolves and will be joined by fellow blueliner Dorian Hall. Forward Dimitri Buttazoni, who was the Wildcats’ second-leading scorer in 2018-2019, has also signed.
“It’s really coming together. We are solid on the front end and in net, we still have a little work to do on defence,” said Timberwolves head coach and general manager, Jeff Richards.
Buttazoni joins a forward group that already includes returning players Brendan Auger, who was last year’s leading Wildcats scorer, and Max Sturko, who was a point-a-game player after being signed late in the season. The Timberwolves also acquired two forwards, Jamahl Eakett and Brayden Harper, from Bellingham this month.
Eakett, 20, was the fifth leading scorer in the whole Western States Hockey League last season with 50 goals and 114 points in 46 regular season games.
“Any time you can add a 50-goal guy to your roster you’re happy. With who we have and who we are looking to get, we are going to have a lot of depth and talent up and down our top three lines,” said Richards, who also signed young forwards Bryant Joseph and Mario Decapite earlier this summer.
“It’s almost to the point where my biggest concern is that there’s only one puck, so how do I get the most out of everyone. It’s a nice problem to have.”
Richards added that he’s in discussions with another strong performer from last year, local Jakob Arsenault, as well as his brother Logan, who played midget AAA last season.
He said the team also has a trade in the works for another top-end forward.
Richards said they are looking pretty good between the pipes as well, with former Wildcat Avery Heath on board as well as goalie Carter Wickson, who was the first player signed by the Timberwolves organization.
Basnett and Hall are not the only returning defenceman, as Seth Ulmer is also joining the Timberwolves. Richards says he hopes to identify a few more players at open tryouts this coming weekend.
“We have enough players to make two teams for scrimmages at camp this weekend. Hopefully we can find a few more players we need and get our roster closer to what it is going to look like come October.”
Camp opens Friday, Aug. 30 and attendees will be put through drills opening day and then see a pair of scrimmages on Aug. 31 and one more on Sept. 1.
The Timberwolves are one of five teams competing this season in the Provincial Division of the Western States Hockey League.
They are joined by two other new franchises, the Cold Lake Hornets and the Barrhead Bombers, as well as holdover franchises the Meadow Lake Mustangs and last year’s champs the Edson Aeros.
Hinton heads to Edson on Sept. 13 for their first exhibition game, while the hometown Hinton fans get their first taste of Timberwolves action on Sept. 14.