Panthers host Dalhousie tonight in first home game of the 2013-14 men’s hockey season
Alex Wall takes a shot during practice earlier this week.
A decision by a novice coach 15 year ago has worked out all right for Alex Wall.
The Mount Pearl, N.L., native started skating when he was three years old and playing hockey about a year later. He began as a forward, but his skating ability led to a move to the blue-line.
“One of my coaches threw me back there for a couple of shifts,” Wall said.
He didn’t like it at first, but quickly grew into the new role.
“I found I was actually good at it, so I kind of stuck around and kept playing there,” he said.
Wall progressed through the minor hockey system at home until major midget when he played for the St. John’s Maple Leafs.
Considered to be a small defenceman at the time, the hometown St. John’s Fog Devils took a chance and drafted him in the fifth-round.
His first season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League would be the last year for the Fog Devils. They moved to Montreal for the 2008-09 season.
He was also part of the Moncton Wildcats’ President’s Cup-winning team in 2009-10 and played for Patrick Roy with the Quebec Remparts in 2010-11. He has now entering his third year in Charlottetown patrolling the blue-line for the UPEI Panthers.
“When I came here on recruiting trip I just loved it here,” Wall said.
And the coaching staff is pleased with his play.
Coach Forbes MacPherson said while some people see the offensive side of his game, it’s the well-rounded aspect that sometimes goes unnoticed by people not seeing him play all the time.
“He’s obviously one of the top defenceman in the league,” MacPherson said. “He logs a lot of minutes for us in all situations.”
While he’s not the biggest defenceman, the coach said, he is “frustrating” to play against, controls the gap well and is good with his stick.
Panther fans will get their first chance to see Wall and his teammates during their Atlantic University Sport (AUS) home opener tonight at 7:30 p.m. against the Dalhousie Tigers.
The Panthers, ranked fourth nationally, are 2-0 after defeating Dal and the Acadia Axemen last weekend in Nova Scotia. Acadia is in town Saturday at 7 p.m.
“They’re obviously going to come out both flying against us,” Wall said. “They don’t want to lose to us again.”
Coach MacPherson said he doesn’t expect his team to be overconfident.
“We’re 2-0. . . (but) the race has just started,” MacPherson said. “We can’t get in relax mode.”
Wall and MacPherson both reference hard work in describing the team’s keys to success.
“It’s our foundation,” MacPherson said. “We’re a meat and potatoes type of team.”
News and notes:
Health – UPEI captain Mason Wilgosh is expected to be out for a couple of weeks
after sustaining an upper body injury during the Panthers game with Acadia on Sunday.
Starting goalie – Wayne Savage gets the start tonight for the Panthers. He beat the Tigers on a week ago in Halifax.
Special ceremony – The Panthers will recognize the contribution of the late Garth McCarvill.
The longtime booster club member died April 6.
For years, McCarvill operated many of the club’s smaller fundraisers while games were being played.
His passion for hockey started years ago when he was manager of the Kinkora High School team. This administrative role continued at university, where he looked after intramural sports.
McCarvill was also involved with the Knights of Columbus, Meals on Wheels and Saint Vincent de Paul.
The following is the UPEI Panthers men’s hockey roster for the 2013-14 Atlantic University Sport season. Included is the player’s year of eligibility and hometown.
Wayne Savage 4 St. Thomas, Ont.
Mavric Parks 3 Eganville, Ont.
Derek Ryckman 1 Red Deer, Alta.
Ryan Taylor 3 Charlottetown
Spencer Metcalfe 2 Oakville, Ont.
Matthew Maione 4 Unionville, Ont.
Brock Beukeboom 1 Port Penny, Ont.
Alex Wall 3 Mount Pearl, N.L.
Casey Babineau 1 Beaver Brook, N.S.
Reggis Traccitto 4 Oakville, Ont.
Harrison McIver 3 Kinkora
Dana Fraser 4 Tatamagouche, N.S.
Travis McIsaac 3 Uigg
Colin Beck 2 Charlottetown
Tyler Brown 2 Detroit, MI
Chris DeSousa 3 Mississauga, Ont.
Matt Brenton 4 East Stewiacke, N.S.
Mason Wilgosh 2 Winnipeg, Man.
Cole MacMillan 3 Stanhope
Cody McNaughton 1 Petawawa, Ont.
Jordan Mayer 2 Kingston, Ont.
Nathan McQuaid 3 Tracadie Cross
Captain – Mason Wilgosh
Assistant captains – Matthew Maione, Harrison McIver and Chris DeSousa