The pipeline between Stanstead College boarding school in south-eastern Quebec and the Victoria Grizzlies continues to flow.
For the third year in a row, Grizzlies GM and head coach Craig Didmon has dipped into the Stanstead College Spartans hockey program, and, after hitting home runs with his first two Stanstead recruits — Nashville Predators draft pick Alex Campbell in 2018 and big winger Andrew Amousse who had an impressive rookie B.C. Hockey League campaign last season with 13 goals in 51 games — who can blame him.
Devon de Vries is the latest Stanstead star to come west, and he too, has an impressive resumé. The 18-year-old de Vries captained the Spartans last season while racking up 35 goals and 46 assists for 81 points in 58 games.
And now the 5-foot-10, 175-pound centre is looking forward to making the jump to the BCHL, and he’s got a couple of buddies to help ease the transition.
“I’m good friends with Andrew and [Grizzlies defenceman] Isack [Bandu], we played together growing up,” said de Vries, who, like Amousse and Bandu, hails from Quebec and speaks fluent French after growing up in St.-Lazare, just west of Montreal.
“And when I came out to visit Victoria about a month ago, I fell in love with the city and the beaches and surroundings so I’m really excited to get things started with the Grizzlies.”
Didmon’s 2020-21 Grizzlies will be minus high-scoring forwards Marty Westhaver and Henri Schreifels as the two graduate to the NCAA and the University of Alabama-Huntsville and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, respectively. So the addition of de Vries brings more youth, speed and skill to Victoria’s lineup.
“He’s another of the good, strong first-year forwards we have coming in who has a history of putting up strong offensive numbers at each level he’s played,” said Didmon.
“He’s also a right-handed shot, which we need, and we expect him to be around for at least a couple of seasons and help our club a great deal.”
As he comes to B.C. looking to chase down an NCAA scholarship himself, de Vries, like everyone else, has been holed up in his house thanks to social-distancing.
“Ya, it has been tough,” he said. “Luckily I have a lot of gym equipment at home and can do some pretty good workouts here, but hopefully all this doesn’t last too much longer.”
Meanwhile, Didmon was also busy adding to the Grizzlies’ blue line.
Defenceman Aleksa Babic will be in training camp after agreeing to come west from the Chatham Maroons of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
Babic, who hails from Tecumseh, Ont., and turns 18 in August, is 6-foot-1, 175 pounds and had three goals and 21 assists in 49 games last season for Chatham.