BROCKVILLE — After a quiet year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the city of Brockville’s top sports team, the Braves, are finally able to have live fans in attendance as they open their home schedule this Friday.
The Braves will look much different from the last full season they played with the top 11 scorers all moving on from the team. With fresh faces comes fresh opportunity for young players like Evan Boucher.
In the 2020-2021 developmental scrimmages, the Ottawa native netted 10 goals in 10 games adding four assists for the Braves and Nepean Raiders.
But returning to Brockville for his fourth full-length season, Boucher will be the top option for a team who will be eager to return to the success they saw the last time they played a full season.
After finishing tied for second most points in the league, the Braves will need a well rounded roster to push through to the next level. One piece they acquired in the preseason to fill out their team was defenceman Jackson Hay.
The Braves front office knew after trading two players and a developmental fee for the defender that there was a risk.
“We were extremely aggressive in our pursuit of his services,” said general manager Dustin Traylen. “He is one of the best defencemen in our league.”
While Hay played for the Braves in his first CCHL action, he has spent the last two years as a member of the Cornwall Colts registering 27 points. In his limited preseason with Brockville he has fit in seamlessly with two points in three games.
In net for the Braves are two solid options. Both Brandon Abbott and Will McEvoy have registered a save percentage above .850. The Braves should be able to balance their young netminders and keep them fresh for the long season ahead.
For Brockville, the 2021-2022 season to kicking off at the Memorial Centre holds symbolic significance.
The building has been the primary location for both the vaccine and testing clinics for the duration of the pandemic and with the return of both the Braves and fans, it marks the beginning of the end of the pandemic era in the region.
The Braves are set to open their 2021-2022 schedule at home against the Ottawa Junior Senators who finished the 2019-2020 season third in their conference with a 34-25-3 record.