The Stanstead College hockey pipeline continues to flow to Vancouver Island.
One year after the Campbell brothers — Alex and Charlie — came west from the private prep school in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, the Victoria Grizzlies have added another pair of high-end prospects for the 2019-20 B.C. Hockey League season.
Grizzlies general manager and head coach Craig Didmon has landed offensive defenceman Isack Bandu and big winger Andrew Amousse.
The two 18-year-olds led the Stanstead Spartans to the Midwest Prep Hockey League playoffs last season.
“Both players are under close watch by several NCAA schools and will be making a decision on that sometime during the season, so they are two very skilled players who will help our hockey club,” said Didmon, whose Grizzlies will open training camp Aug. 19 at Juan de Fuca Arena.
Bandu, from the Montreal suburb of Notre Dame-de-I’Île-Perrot, knows the Campbells better as he played minor hockey with Alex, a Nashville Predators draft pick who is headed to Clarkson University in the NCAA. They also played a year together at Stanstead.
“Alex is a good buddy and he had nothing but great things to say about Victoria and the Grizzlies. So when the opportunity came to go out there, I jumped at it because it looks like a very good fit for me,” said Bandu, who just graduated from high school.
The six-foot-one, 170-pounder brings speed and skill on the back end. He was taken in the ninth round of the 2017 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft by Chicoutimi.
Last season, he had two goals and five assists in 19 regular-season games with Stanstead and two goals and two assists in five playoff games.
“Isack is great skater and will add to the high-tempo style of play we like to play,” Didmon said. “He has a very high ceiling and I look for him to develop into an elite defenceman in our league.”
Bandu said the Grizzlies’ record of developing players such as recent NHL draft picks Alex Campbell, Alex Newhook (Colorado Avalanche) and Carter Berger (Florida Panthers) played a part in his decision.
“They help players develop their games and get to the NCAA and maybe even the NHL, so I think it’s a perfect place to develop the style of game I want to play,” Bandu said.
“The league is known to be the best [Junior A] league in Canada and I already know some of the players like Andrew and Cody Monds who are also coming, so I’m really looking forward to getting out there and getting going.”
Amousse, who turns 18 next week, hails from Laval, Que., and was selected in the seventh round of the 2017 QMJHL draft by Blainville-Boisbriand. He brings his six-foot-one, 190-pound frame to Victoria. He had 10 goals and six assists in 18 games for Stanstead last season, as well as 25 penalty minutes.
“Andrew is a big, tough kid who skates well and has soft hands for a big player,” Didmon said. “We look for him to add physicality to our lineup and develop into a high-end power forward in our league.”
LOOSE PUCKS: The Grizzlies unveiled their pre-season schedule on Monday. They’ll play five exhibition games, beginning with a home-and-home set with the Nanaimo Clippers on Aug. 23 at Juan de Fuca Arena and Aug. 24 at Frank Crane Arena. That will be followed by three straight games against the Cowichan Valley Capitals on Aug. 30 at the Cowichan Community Centre, then Aug. 31 and Sept. 1 at Seaparc Arena in Sooke. Both games in Sooke will be 2 p.m. starts.