After coming within a goal of winning the Manitoba Junior Hockey League championship in a Game 7 overtime loss to the Portage Terriers, the club is looking continue to build on that momentum going into next season.
It won’t be easy though, as the club lost their top-three point-getters from last season in Josh Tripp, Bradley Goethals, and Matthew Osadick. Swan Valley also will be without the league’s reigning top defenseman in Quintin Sudom, starting netminder Merek Pipes, and a total of eight graduating players who have moved on.
The giant task of filling those holes falls on newly-hired Head Coach and GM Geoff Grimwood, who signed a three-year contract with the club earlier this summer.
The 38-year-old veteran coach brings a wealth of experience to the club, having spent last season as the head coach of the West Kelowna Warriors of the BCHL. Prior to his time in the BCHL, Grimwood was the Head Coach and GM of the Kindersley Klippers in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League.
Grimwood took over for Barry Wolff, who stepped down after the season came to a close in what he called an “extremely difficult decision,” to take over behind the bench of the Merritt Centennials of the BCHL. Wolff took over for Taurean White just three games into the 2018-19 season, leading the Stamps to within one goal of the Turnbull Cup.
Not too long after the dust settled on the coaching change, Grimwood and Wolff made a massive trade as the two coaches began to put their fingerprints on their new clubs in a massive deal. The Stampeders shipped Osadick to the Merritt Centennials where he will reunite with his former coach, in exchange for a trio of players from the Centennials.
Osadick, a Grande Pointe product, averaged more than a point-per-game over his two seasons with the Stampeders, suiting up 120 career games where he compiled 56 goals, 69 assists for 125 points. Last season, the 19-year-old finished fifth in the MJHL in scoring finishing with 63 points in 45 games, and helped Team Canada West capture Bronze at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge in Bonnyville, AB.
Heading to Swan Valley is 1999-born goaltender Vincent Duplessis, 1999-born forward Frazer Dodd, and 2000-born forward Justin Plett.
In addition to the loss of Osadick, the club lost its top two scorers as well, as league MVP and top scorer Josh Tripp, who along with the MJHL’s second-leading-scorer Bradley Goethals will suit up for the University of Manitoba Bisons this upcoming season. Graduating forward Brian Harris has also committed to the Bisons for next season.
On the backend, the club also lost their top offensive defenseman Quintin Sudom and starting goaltender Merek Pipes. The 20-year-old Sudom was named the MJHL’s top defenseman last season after putting up an impressive 55-point season,, and will be heading Camrose, AB. to play for the University of Alberta-Augustana Vikings, while Pipes, coming off an impressive season where he posted a 20-8 record, is off to New York to play for Union College in NCAA Division 1.
The club will be relying on a strong mix of youth and veterans as the 2019-20 season approaches, but with veteran leadership behind the bench, and some strong prospects coming in to fill some holes, the Stampeders have an opportunity to make some noise in the MJHL standings once again.
Graduated Players: Jun Yi Zhong, Alex Uryga, Quintin Sudom, Tucker Scantlebury, Campbell Balk, Merek Pipes, Bradly Goethals, & Josh Tripp.