The Saugeen Shores Winterhawks have added five new faces to their lineup for the 2017/18 WOAA Sr. Hockey League season.
Headlining the group of newest Winterhawks is former National Hockey League forward Chris Minard.
Minard, 35, is a native of Owen Sound and played 40 NHL games split between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers from 2007 until 2010, including earning a Stanley Cup ring with the 2008/09 Penguins.
His junior career included three seasons with the Owen Sound Platers, as well as stops with the Oshawa Generals and Toronto St. Michael’s Majors.
A well-travelled veteran, Minard played on nine minor league teams between 2002 and 2012, before finishing up his professional career in Europe, playing five seasons in Germany.
Minard played in the AHL All-Star game in 2009 and won the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Trophy as the league’s most sportsmanlike player in 2011/12, when he was with the Grand Rapids Griffins. He also won a championship in the East Coast Hockey League in 2005/06 with the Alaska Aces.
“Chris is a true pro, he brings a wealth of skill and experience to our team,” said General Manager Don Matheson.
Also joining the team is a trio of teammates making the jump from junior hockey.
Lauchlin Elder, Connor Patton and Josh Hopkin all come to the Winterhawks from the Walkerton Hawks.
Elder, 22, played five seasons in Walkerton, winning two league championships and capturing the league scoring title and MVP honours in 2015/16, with 63 points in 36 games.
Elder finished his junior career with 256 points (118 goals, 163 assists) in 167 games.
The 6’2″ winger is also an accomplished lacrosse player, who was selected by the Georgia Swarm in the National Lacrosse League draft, and played most recently with the Sr.B Owen Sound North Stars.
Patton, 21, spent five seasons in junior hockey, split between Walkerton and the Jr. B GOJHL’s Caledonia Corvairs.
Patton comes to the Winterhawks with a winning pedigree, he captured the Western Jr. C championship with Walkerton in 2012/13, while capturing the league’s rookie of the year honours, followed by back-to-back GOJHL championships in 2013/14 and 2014/15.
Hopkin, 21, anchored the Walkerton blueline last season, scoring 42 points in 35 games.
Prior to that, the Hanover native played two seasons of Jr. A with the Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior “A” Hockey League.
The Winterhawks have also signed defenceman Aeric Annetta.
The 24-year old native of Vaughan, Ont. played one season of Jr. A with the Whitby Fury and a season with USports University of Ontario Institute of Technology.
“Our league is so fast now, it’s critical to be bringing in young legs,” said Matheson. “These kids will fit right in and give us a spark.”
The five players will join the 21 returning Winterhawks who have re-signed with the team.
The Winterhawks open the 2017/18 season on Saturday in Kincardine against the Ripley Wolves at 5:00 p.m.