As the curtain closed on the 2016-17 Canadian Junior Hockey League season on Sunday in Cobourg, Ont., at least 35 players from the championship tournament now set their sights on becoming student-athletes in 2017-18.
What began as 10 leagues featuring 132 teams at the start of the 2016-17 campaign, wrapped up Sunday as the host Cobourg Cougars from the Ontario Junior Hockey League (OJHL) edged the Brooks Bandits from the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) 3-2 in overtime to capture the 2017 RBC Cup.
The biggest name and one of the most sought after CJHL players finished as a runner-up in the title match.
Bandits defenceman Cale Makar, who is also on the NHL radar for the upcoming NHL draft, captured both the MVP and top defenceman award for the second straight RBC Cup in Cobourg and was also named as the top player in the CJHL this past season.
The Calgary, Alta. native is now headed to the University of Massachusetts (Amherst) where he will start his university career with the Minutemen.
Another interesting NCAA Division 1 commit from the Bandits is forward and Edmonton. Alta. native Parker Foo, who will be joining his brother Spencer as a member of the Union Dutchmen. Spencer was one of the top scorers in the nation this past season and was a nominee for the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in U.S. university hockey.
At least nine other players from the Bandits have committed to NCAA Division 1 programs for next season with Oliver Chau joining Makar at UMass while brothers Ocean and Orca Wiesblatt, both forwards, have committed to the University of Vermont Catamounts.
The other Bandits heading south of the border next season are: goaltender Mitchel Benson (Windsor, Ont.), University of Alaska Nanooks; defenceman Charlie Marchand (Calgary, Alta.), Bentley Falcons; forward Josh McKechney (Calgary, Alta.), Colgate Raiders; defenceman Joe O'Connor (Hamden, Conn.), Quinnipiac Bobcats; forward Nick Prkusic (Medicine Hat, Alta.), Robert Morris Colonials; and forward Arnaud Vachon (Ajax, Ont.), Colgate Raiders.
A pair of players from the national champion Cougars are slated to become members of the Niagara Purple Eagles next season including Napanee, Ont. native Ryan Casselman, who led the Cougars in scoring this past season. The other is defenceman Sam Dunn, who hails from Bewdley, Ont.
Another key forward for the Cougars and a Cobourg native, Brenden Locke, is headed to the Cornell Big Red.
The UOIT Ridgebacks of the OUA and U SPORTS (formerly CIS) will have a pair of Cougars headed their way next season as defenceman Jesse Baird from Brampton, Ont. along with sniper and Cobourg native Josh Maguire will join that program.
Twenty-three NCAA Division 1 schools will add to their rosters with players from the RBC Cup field with North Dakota Fighting Hawks leading the way with three recruits.
The Penticton Vees of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), featuring 19 NCAA commits, the Trenton Golden Hawks of the OJHL and Quebec representative, the Cobras de Terrebonne, rounded out the field at this year's RBC Cup.
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