Right winger Felix Trudeau is the fifth-leading scorer in the British Columbia Junior Hockey League with 22 goals and 18 assists for 40 points in 32 games for the West Kelowna Warriors.
Trudeau headlines a list of at least 10 players who will join the University of Maine’s hockey program this fall after verbally committing to the school.
There are 10 verbal commits who will definitely be coming this fall and a couple of others who could also come either next year or the following year.
Three of the players were landed by the late Red Gendron and former associate head coach Ben Guite along with assistant Alfie Michaud and have decided to join the new coaching staff of Ben Barr, Jason Fortier and Michaud.
Trudeau is in that group, along with defenseman Robert Kincaid and right wing Josh Nadeau, who may come this fall or the fall of 2023.
Trudeau committed two years ago when he was at Northwood School in Lake Placid. New York.
Verbal commitments are non-binding, meaning players can change their minds and go somewhere else. The coaches who recruited him no longer being there is one reason a player may make such a decision.
“When I visited there the first time, I fell in love with the place. When I watched a game, the atmosphere with that student section was awesome,” said Trudeau, a native of Terrebonne, Quebec, a suburb of Montreal.
He said he also liked the fact Gendron and Guite spoke French.
“But after I talked to Coach Barr and Coach Fortier, they seem like great coaches. I’m excited to come,” Trudeau said.
Trudeau will be asked to help supply the Hockey East cellar-dwelling Black Bears with an infusion of offense.
Even though UMaine has had a bump in its offensive production of late with 16 goals in its last five games, it is still 53rd among 59 Division I teams in goals per game, averaging two per contest. It is 51st on the power play (13.2 percent efficiency rate).
The 19-year-old Trudeau, who is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds, is tied for fourth in the BCJHL in goals and has four power play goals, two shorthanded goals and four game-winners.
“He is a shoot-first kind of guy who has a good shot and a good one-timer,” said West Kelowna general manager-head coach Simon Ferguson. “He can take the puck to the net. He has good speed and protects the puck really well. He is hard to play against.”
He plays in all situations and Ferguson said he continues to develop his ”200-foot game.”
“He also wins about 60 percent of the [faceoff] draws although he doesn’t take as many as some of our other guys,” Ferguson said.
Trudeau knows he is going to be part of a big incoming class and feels it will be beneficial, saying it will make it “easier to adapt” for all of them.
Trudeau is one of five forwards who will be in the incoming class, along with five defensemen.
The other forwards are 5-foot-10, 174-pound Reid Pabich from Verona, Wisconsin; 6-1, 185-pound Killian Kiecker-Olson from Andover, Minnesota; 5-11, 181-pound Parker Lindauer and 5-9, 170-pound Thomas Weis, who are both from Madison, Wisconsin.
The defensemen are Brandon Holt (6-0, 185) from Grand Forks, North Dakota; Luke Antonacci (5-9, 168) from Princeton, New Jersey; Grayson Arnotte (5-9, 170) from Toronto; Bayville, New York. native Brandon Chabrier (5-11, 170); and Kincaid (6-0, 170) from Barrhead, Alberta.
Kiecker-Olson, Pabich, Weis and Lindauer are all playing in the United States Junior Hockey League.
Kiecker-Olson has 11 goals and 8 assists in 24 games for Des Moines; Pabich has 8 & 18 in 33 games for Madison; Weis has tallied 1 & 8 in 30 games for Fargo and Lindauer has 3 & 6 in 24 games between Tri-City and Muskegon.
All of the defensemen seem to have an offensive component to their games.
Kincaid has 9 & 25 in 43 games for Camrose in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Arnott has 3 & 20 in 28 games for Penticton in the BCJHL; Antonacci has 5 & 4 in 30 games for Sioux City in the USJHL; Holt has 6 & 15 in 33 games for New Mexico in the North American Hockey League and Chabrier had talled 3 & 5 in 30 games for Sioux Falls of the United States Hockey League.
Last season, Antonacci played for the Lewiston-based Maine Nordiques in the NAHL and had 5 & 19 in 54 games.
The two players who could come this fall or the next are Penticton teammates Nadeau, who has 22 & 16 in 29 games, including nine power play goals, and defenseman Ryan Hopkins (3 & 12 in 23 games).
Both are from the Maritimes.
The 6-2, 174-pound Hopkins hails from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, and the 5-7, 157-pound Nadeau is from St. Francois-de-Madawaska, New Brunswick.
For all of the incoming players, their coming to UMaine is dependent upon them being accepted by the school and meeting NCAA eligibility requirements.