Under-17 experience invaluable
He helped the Moncton Flyers win provincial and Atlantic titles in 2009 and used that experience to play a key role last season for the Miramichi Rivermen, who eventually lost to the St. John’s Fog Devils in the Atlantic final.
But what happened between those events is what Sock will remember most when he reflects years from now. The Saint John Sea Dogs defenceman played for Team Atlantic in last year’s World Under-17 Challenge in Timmins, Ont., a tournament that helped prepare him for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
“It improved my confidence a lot,” Sock said. “It gave me confidence to play here.”
Sock’s defensive partner with Team Atlantic was Cole Harbour N.S., product Brendan Duke, who’s now playing for Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts. Three other Sea Dogs – forwards Ryan Tesink, Aidan Kelly and Jason Cameron – also played for Team Atlantic last year.
Other Sea Dogs who are Team Atlantic alumni include Steven Anthony (2008), Stephen MacAulay (2009), Nathan Beaulieu (2009) and Kevin Gagne (2009).
“It was a big step,” said Sock, a 17-year-old who hails from Elsipogtog. “Players are a lot faster and a lot smarter on the ice. It was a great experience.”
The latest edition of Team Atlantic was unveiled Tuesday. Sea Dogs prospect Devon Oliver-Dares (currently in the major midget ranks with the Dartmouth Ice Dawgs) and Saint John native Matt Bursey are two of the 13 forwards. Bursey, selected by the Shawinigan Cataractes in the 2010 QMJHL draft, is currently with the Miramichi Timberwolves of the Maritime Hockey League.
Miramichi’s Brett Malone of the Moncton Wildcats is another forward, while three New Brunswickers anchor the blue-line. Petit-Rocher’s Justin Hache, a QMJHL rookie with Shawinigan, is back, as is Oromocto’s Brayden Wood of the Fredericton Midget AAA Canadiens. Another midget Hab, Matt Murphy of Fredericton, will also suit up for Team Atlantic.
Sea Dogs assistant coach and hockey administration director Greg Leland of Quispamsis is Team Atlantic’s head coach. This year’s tournament is in Winnipeg/Portage la Prairie, Man.
Team Atlantic begins its schedule with an exhibition game Dec. 28 against the Czech Republic. Team Atlantic’s first tournament game goes Dec. 29 versus Quebec, while other round-robin opponents include Finland, the United States and Germany.
Following is the complete roster of Team Atlantic: Goalies: Jacob Brennan (Hammonds Plains, N.S.); Brandon Whitney (Centreville, N.S.). Defencemen: Michael Abbott (St. John’s, N.L.); Brett Beauvais (Summerside, P.E.I.); Justin Hache (Petit-Rocher, N.B.); Aaron Hoyles (Halifax, N.S.); Matt Murphy (Fredericton, N.B.); Mitchell Shewfelt (Dartmouth, N.S.); Brayden Wood (Oromocto, N.B.). Forwards: Stephen Anderson (Morell, P.E.I.); Taylor Burke (Halifax, N.S.); Matt Bursey (Saint John, N.B.); Kyle Farrell (Howie Center, N.S.); Nathan MacKinnon (Cole Harbour, N.S.); Craig MacLauchlan (Charlottetown, P.E.I.); Brett Malone (Miramichi, N.B.); Liam O’Brien (Halifax, N.S.); Devon Oliver-Dares (Cole Harbour, N.S.); Ryan Penny (Fall River, N.S.); Brandon Pye (St. John’s, N.L.); Andrew Ryan (Paradise, N.L.); Brent Turnbull (Stellarton, N.S.).