The Estevan Bruins brass has struck gold tapping into resources from eastern Canada, and hope to have done so again with the recent acquisition of Lac-Beauport, Que-product Tristan Dussault.
The Bruins announced the 5-foot-11, 181-pound centre's commitment on the weekend.
Dussault, who turned 19 in May, racked up 43 goals and 40 assists in 66 games with the Sainte-Foy Dynamiques of the QCHL over the last two seasons.
The righty was held scoreless in one game with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's Sherbrooke Phoenix last season. He's expected to be out for about two months, after a recent injury in Sherbrooke's training camp.
"We knew he was going to the Q camp and it's unfortunate he got injured. But we're excited to have him. He'll be back in action before the Christmas break," said Bruins head coach and general manager Jason Tatarnic.
Tatarnic said Dussault's skillset and puck-protection ability will help him be a key contributor to the offence when he gets into the lineup.
"He'll be a guy that contributes offensively. That's what we're expecting from him. When he comes in, hopefully it's a boost to our lineup and it makes us better."
Tatarnic did not disclose the nature of the injury, beyond the expected recovery timeline.
Several players from east of the prairies have played big roles with Estevan since Tatarnic took over the reins heading into the 2020-21 season.
St. John's, Nfld.'s Mark Rumsey won the SJHL's Viterra Division award for top forward in 2021-22 after posting 39 goals and 37 assists in 56 games. He was also a force in the postseason, with eight goals and seven assists in 15 games as the Bruins won the SJHL Championship.
Tecumseh, Ont.'s Aleksa Babic was also part of the 2021-22 championship team. The blueliner took his game to another level last season, finishing second in team scoring with 42 points in 56 games.
Welland, Ont.'s Alex Blanchard only played part of last season with the Bruins before going to McGill to play university hockey. But he piled up 10 goals and 17 assists in 36 games with the Bruins.
Gabriel Filion is another one of the players to come from down east. The Montreal native will be someone to watch this season after contributing 11 goals and eight assists in 30 games since joining the Bruins last season. He turns 19 in late September.
Fans will also want to keep an eye on another summer acquisition in Felix Allard, who had three goals and 10 assists in 20 games with Joliette last season and has 48 games of QMJHL experience (where he posted three goals and three assists).
Tatarnic said it's one thing to identify players that could help the team, but it's another to get them to come.
"Players have lots of choices out there, so you have to do the best sales job you can.
"In the last two years, we've won a championship. So that's the biggest thing that we preach is that our goal is to win championships. We want to create a culture that provides the opportunity to obtain those goals."
The Niagara Falls native coached Jr. A hockey in Dryden, Ont., Humboldt, Sask., Woodstock, N.B., and Chilliwack, B.C. before coming to Estevan. The connections in the hockey community are widespread. And his travels give him a good appreciation of Estevan's facilities.
"It's not just the nice rink. We have the weight room, we have the nice dressing room, we have the players' lounge, we have the pool. So everything we can do is in-house. Our biggest thing is the culture. We preach how we do things here. I think that's the biggest thing that we use to try to convince them to come here is we want them to come in here with the mindset that they're going to the greatest facility and the program that's striving to win and striving to advance players."
The Bruins training camp will wrap up on Wednesday. Their six-game preseason schedule kicks off when the Weyburn Red Wings visit Affinity Place on September 8.
Estevan begins their regular season at home against the Melville Millionnaires on September 22.
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