Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eagles and Beavers pull off 1-for-1 deal

By Randy Russon/Osprey Blogs

The West Division of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League got a little wilder today as the Blind River Beavers and Soo Eagles pulled the trigger on a deal that features two players from the opposite sides of the International Bridge at Sault Ste. Marie.

Blind River got a bit older in the trade by getting sought-after 19-year-old right winger Jake Watchorn from the Michigan Eagles in exchange for 17-year-old rookie left winger David McCaig.

Blind River will also get a player to be named by January 2010 to complete the transaction.

The 5-foot-10, 170-pound McCaig posted 7-9-16 totals in 22 games with the Beavers while the 6-foot, 190-pound Watchorn was 5-9-14 in 19 games with the Eagles.

McCaig made the Beavers after playing AA midget hockey in the Canadian Soo last season.

Watchorn, a Michigan Soo native, had joined the Eagles after playing in the North American Hockey League last season and debuting in the NOJHL with the old Northern Michigan Black Bears three years ago.

The spirited McCaig fits in with the youthful direction of the Eagles, a first-year NOJHL squad.

Watchorn, meanwhile, brings a gritty, grimy game to a Blind River team that has never won a playoff series in franchise history but is within four points of the West Division-leading Soo Thunderbirds going into play this week.

Watchorn was being pursued by at least one team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League and the North Bay Skyhawks of the NOJHL were also in the running to get the hard-nosed winger.

Eagles’ director of player personnel Ritchie Donaghue said he and head coach Paul Theriault gave Watchorn the choice of which NOJHL team he wanted to go to — North Bay or Blind River.

“At first Jake told us he wanted to go to North Bay but within a few hours of his telling us that he said he thought it over and that Blind River would be a better fit for him,” Donaghue told me.

Watchorn said he changed his mind because going to Blind River will allow him to continue to live at home in the Michigan Soo and attend school at Lake Superior State University.

“I was all set to go to North Bay but then I thought about being able to stay in school at Lake State and to commute to and from Blind River for practices and games,” Watchorn explained.

Watchorn added that he hopes to have more of a role with the Beavers than he did with the Eagles.

“I’m excited to be going to Blind River. I’ve heard good things about their coach (Todd Stencill) and it’s obvious the Beavers are trying to win when they go out and get a goalie like Billy Stone.”

Stencill, for his part, said he didn’t want to part with McCaig.

“David’s a great kid and I love him but I felt we could use the the added experience that a tough kid like Jake will bring to us. The Eagles wouldn’t give us Jake unless we gave them David.

Personally, I think it’s a good trade for both kids and both teams.”

McCaig said he’s “sad to leave Blind River. I loved playing for Todd and for the Beavers. But this is junior hockey and trades are a part of what goes on and if I could have chosen another team to play for it definitely would have been the Soo Eagles.

“People who I respect like yourself all tell me what a great coach Mr. Theriault is and that Mr. Donaghue is someone you can trust. I’m closer to home now and I can’t wait to put on an Eagles’ jersey and step onto that great ice at Pullar Stadium.”

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