Early last week, Stratford Cullitons traded forward Garrett James to St. Marys Lincolns of the Western Conference. In return, Cullitons received cash and the GOJHL playing rights to Tyson Baker.
Baker, an 18-year-old from the Thorndale area, is a rugged left winger who played the last two seasons with the Lincs. A Peterborough draft pick, Baker was still at the Petes’ OHL camp last week and played in some exhibition games.
Baker had eight goals, 26 points and 102 penalty minutes in 48 games with St. Marys last season.
“It is not known at this time whether Tyson will remain with the Petes for this season or be made available to join our hockey team,” said Jason Lott, Cullitons’ director of hockey operations.
“Stratford Cullitons Hockey Club would like to thank Garrett James for the contributions he made to our hockey team last season, and wish him all the best as he continues his Junior hockey career with St. Marys.”
--James, meanwhile, recently attended North Bay Battalion’s OHL camp.
“It went well; I had six points in three games,” the 17-year-old James said. “They just said I needed a little more Junior experience; North Bay has an older team and they only had a couple of (available) spots.”
Last season, the Stratford native played in 24 games for Cullitons before returning to ‘AAA’ Midget hockey.
James had a goal and an assist in an 8-3 St. Marys loss to Strathroy Rockets last Friday night.
--On Monday of this week, Owen Sound Attack released big winger Mitch Vandergunst and he will be in the Cullitons’ line-up this Friday when they host Waterloo Siskins at 7:30 p.m.
Vandergunst, a 19-year-old from Exeter, played in four exhibition games with the Attack.
Forward Dylan Wettlaufer returned from Sudbury Wolves’ OHL camp last week, and scored in both of Stratford games on the weekend.
--Cullitons picked three good players to spearhead their leadership group this season. Twenty-year-old Jordan Currie is the new team captain, and assistant captains are third-year centre Trevor Sauder, 19, and sophomore defenceman Jeff McArdle, 19. Currie, starting his fourth season with the team, wore an ‘A’ last year.
“Those kids have been good and loyal and dedicated to us, and it’s a reward for them getting the captaincy,” coach Phil Westman said last week. “I think we have a good, solid group there.
“We have a very young team again this year, and I think the leadership is going to come from all over.”
Sauder won four team awards at last season’s year-end banquet. For the second year in a row, team training staff selected the exciting centre as the winner of the James Elder Memorial Award for On-Off Ice Leadership.
McArdle, meanwhile, was the first winner of the John Mavity Memorial Award for most improved player. It’s an award voted on by the coaching staff.
--With a relatively young crop of forwards, coach Westman expects it will be “scoring by committee” this coming season.
Six new faces up front with the Cullitons are: Deven Kropf, Zach Van Louwe, Nick Nigro, Maverick Petrie, Nathan Templeman and Drew Gross.
“After getting beat in the finals last season, I think we walked out of here thinking we’d have an experienced team that would be going back to the finals,” Westman said.
“But as time goes on, the landscape sometimes changes. I like our experience on defence, but we’re not left with much experience up front--especially in the goal-scoring department.
“For us, it will definitely be ‘scoring by committee’ right now. I don’t think we have a great proven sniper right now. When it comes to scoring, we’re going to have to have a commitment by all five players on the ice to generate offence. We’re going to have to manufacture goals somehow.”
--In other Cullitons’ news, Murray Patterson is the team’s new assistant general manager. Patterson will serve under Randy Petrie who has taken over the GM duties from Jason Lott, who remains the Cullitons’ director of hockey operations.
While making the announcement recently to local media, Lott cited “work and family commitments” as the reasons.
Petrie, meanwhile, is a long-time member of Stratford’s scouting staff.
--Cullitons don’t play rival Listowel Cyclones until 18 games into the 2013-14 regular schedule -- their last game in the month of October.
Cullitons have a busy October with 10 games scheduled.
--Stratford native David Dalby, a 20-year-old forward, is back for his second season with Leamington Flyers of the Western loop. Dalby attends the University of Windsor.
In 48 games with the Flyers last season, Dalby had 13 goals, 22 points and 39 penalty minutes.