New den members: Examining new Grizzlies recruits for 2023-24

With the 2022-23 season nearly complete, the Victoria Grizzlies have started recruiting players for the 2023-24 season. Several current Grizzlies will leave after this season.

As of this writing, the BCHL website lists eight new players joining the Grizzlies for 2023-24. All eight players come from schools around North America. Five players are forwards, two recruits are defenders, and one is a goalie.

For this article, I’ll profile these eight players before their arrival. Before that, I want to check in on one of last season’s recruits. Specifically, how he never joined the team.

Last March, the Grizzlies announced Jack Brandt‘s recruitment but he didn’t join the Grizzlies. Instead, he signed with the Chicago Steel of the US Hockey League. This past January, the Steel traded Brandt to the Madison Capitols.

Victoria isn’t done recruiting players for the 2023-24 season. Even last year, the team recruited players up to a month before its 2022 training camp. Some players listed here may not make their way onto the Grizzlies 2023-24 roster.

Coming from the West Coast

For next season, Victoria has recruited two players from the Pacific Coast Hockey Academy in Langford, BC. They are defender Ethan Andrews and forward Landon Mackie.

Andrews is in his third season playing for PCHA and Mackie is in his fourth. Both players are teammates on the Academy’s U18 Prep team in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League this season.

In 2021-22, Andrews played 36 games for the U18 Prep squad and scored four goals and five assists. Last season, Mackie played 40 combined games between the U16 and U18 Prep teams and finished with 23 goals and 40 assists.

The Grizzlies’ final West Coast recruit is Simon Ward, who comes from St. George’s School in Vancouver. Before heading to St. George’s, Ward played at the Burnaby Winter Club. Both of those teams play in the CSSHL.

Ward is their youngest recruit as he’ll enter the 2023-24 season as a 16-year-old. The last Grizzlies rookie to debut as a 16-year-old was 2023 NHL first-round draft prospect and University of Connecticut forward Matthew Wood.

Coming from the East Coast

Coming from the Mount Academy Saints 18U Varsity club is defender Drew Hockley. He is the second blueliner the Grizzlies have recruited for the 2023-24 season.

Hockley has played at Mount Academy since 2020-21. He also has junior A experience with the Summerside Western Capitals of the Maritime Junior Hockey League, where he was called up as an affiliate player last season.

Arriving from Selects Academy in Kent, CT are goaltender Owen Bresson and forward Simon Gaul. Coming from Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, MA is forward Malcolm Green, and, from Avon Old Farms School is forward Charlie Gollob. All four recruits are Canadian-born players attending American prep high schools.

Before attending Selects Academy, Gaul played Major Junior hockey, getting into six games with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 2021-22. However, injuries limited his playing time in Drummondville and he was released at the January 10th roster deadline that season.

Bresson, who’s Gaul’s teammate at Selects Academy, played minor hockey with the Cape Breton Cougars U15 team. After two seasons with the Cougars, Bresson headed to Kent.

Gollob is an alum of the Toronto Red Wings of the Greater Toronto Hockey U15 League. This season, the Toronto native has split time between Avon Old Farms and the Buffalo Regals 18U AAA team.

Bresson, Green, and Gollob are the latest players recruited to Victoria from the Maritimes. Other players over the years include San Jose Sharks draft pick Eli Barnett, Northeastern University commit Reegan Hiscock, and Colorado Avalanche forward Alex Newhook.

More on the way

At the end of this season, goaltender Ansel Holt will depart to play NCAA hockey at the US Military Academy at Westpoint. It looks like Bresson will form the new tandem in goal with Oliver Auyeung-Ashton.

Several other players are in their final seasons of junior hockey. Grizzlies captain Barnett is heading to the University of Vermont and forwards Owen Bohn, Devon DeVries, and Olivier Picard age out after 2022-23. Jack Gorton will attend Boston University starting this September.

The Grizzlies have already given two 2023-24 recruits affiliate player callups this season. Mackie made his junior A debut against the Surrey Eagles on Feb. 10 and Ward made his BC Hockey League debut against Langley the following night.