Of the 11 returning Victoria Grizzlies from last season, four of them are defensemen. Isack Bandu, Brady MacDonald, Reid Lindsay, and Jake Veilleux were part of last year’s Grizzlies team that finished fifth in the Island Division. They will be joined by three rookies and two reserve defensemen.
Andrew Braun, Tanner Attew, and Nicholas O’Hanisain join a Grizzlies squad looking to rebound from last season’s finish. Currently, the Grizzlies are competing for the inaugural Island Cup with the other Vancouver Island-based BCHL teams.
Braun is an 18-year-old local from Victoria. Attew is a 17-year-old from South Surrey and O’Hanisain is an 18-year-old from Troy, Michigan.
They all come from U18 AAA teams from different parts of the west coast and they aren’t the only defensemen to join the Grizzlies after playing for AAA teams. Veilleux joined the Grizzlies after playing for the Selects Academy U18 AAA team in the United States Premier Hockey League.
For many defensemen, this is their first junior hockey experience. For others, they’ve had previous junior hockey experience before joining the Grizzlies. It’s this mix of players that will form the Grizzlies back end this coming season.
Starting with the defensemen that have junior hockey experience, there’s Brady MacDonald. After playing his final season with the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs U16 AAA team he made the jump to junior B and played two full seasons with the Strathroy Rockets of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Here we go boys!
Let’s do this! pic.twitter.com/SP8mxDcD4I
— Victoria Grizzlies (@BCHLGrizzlies) October 4, 2020
From 2016-18, MacDonald had eight goals and 17 assists for a combined 25 points with the Rockets. He came to the Grizzlies before the 2018-19 season and this is his third with the team.
AAA and junior hockey recruits
For Reid Lindsay, his junior hockey career started in Campbell River with the Storm of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.
Lindsay played for several teams before joining the Grizzlies in 2019-20. In 44 games last season, he had two goals and eight assists for 10 points. He also had 23 penalty minutes.
Veilleux played briefly with the Westshore Wolves of the VIJHL before joining the Grizzlies full time. In 57 games with the Grizzlies in 2019-20, he had three goals and seven assists for 10 points. He also had 35 penalty minutes.
Next up with junior hockey experience is Attew. He played for the West Van Academy Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League U18 division and was also briefly with the Surrey Knights of the Pacific Junior Hockey League before committing to the Grizzlies.
The final player with junior hockey experience is Braun. He played briefly for the now-Saanich Predators of the VIJHL while playing the Shawnigan Lake School Prep team in the CSSHL. As a member of Shawnigan Lake, Braun had two goals and a dozen assists for 14 points in 26 games.
The Victoria Grizzlies are pleased to announce the commitment of defencemen @andrewbraun02 from Shawnigan Lake School Prep for the 2020/21 season!
— Victoria Grizzlies (@BCHLGrizzlies) April 4, 2020
Next up is Bandu. Before coming to Victoria, he played for Stanstead College, which is an independent boarding school in Stanstead, Quebec for grades 7-12.
At Stanstead College, he played 19 games earning two goals and four assists for six points. When he joined the Grizzlies last season, Bandu had a goal and 11 assists in 52 games along with 62 penalty minutes.
Finally, there’s O’Hanisain. Before joining the Victoria Grizzlies, he played for a different sleuth of bears in Oakland, California. Specifically, the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies 18U AAA team. In 52 games with the Jr. Grizzlies, O’Hanisain had nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points.
Defending the back end
There is another defenseman joining the Grizzlies during the extended training camp. Tyler Waram is a reserve defenseman and affiliate player. He’s already committed to the Westshore Wolves of the VIJHL for this season. He’s also a graduate of a AAA program after playing last season with the Seattle Jr. Thunderbirds U16 AAA team.
Also joining the team as a reserve defenseman is Michael Adamek. He is another affiliate player who’s also committed to the Westshore Wolves. Before joining the Wolves, he was with the Pacific Coast Academy Elite 15s team in the CSSHL U16 division.
The Grizzlies have also traded Aleksa Babic to the Estevan Bruins for future considerations.
As for Braun, O’Hanisain, and Attew, they are the future defensemen for the team. MacDonald, Lindsay, Veilleux are 20-year-old players in their final season of junior hockey. The only veteran defencemen who won’t graduate is Bandu.
These rookie defencemen will have to learn from the current veterans. After the vets leave, they will form the next group of Grizzlies defencemen and lead the new blueline corps that join Victoria next season.
The Island Cup is a good first test for these new players and the regular season will show how ready these new players are.