Maine Hockey Journal

Amateur players making tough decisions

In the world of amateur hockey, players have decisions to make. Do they want to turn what the NCAA calls professional hockey in the Canadian Hockey League or hold onto their NCAA eligibility by playing in the Junior A ranks.

Darcy Ashley, Steven Gillard, and Brent Andrews all chose the major junior route by signing with the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League which is governed by the CHL.

Ashley and Gillard both gave verbal commitments to the University of Maine before they were selected by the Mooseheads in the 2010 and 2009 QMJHL draft respectfully. Andrews had an offer from the Black Bears, but didn’t give a verbal commitment.

“I made it after the (2010 QMJHL) draft,” said Darcy Ashley of his decision to choose the major junior route over the NCAA. “If I got picked by Halifax chances were I would end up playing here this year. I am lucky that happened and I have no regrets.”

Brent Andrews wanted to be a part of the Mooseheads squad that wants to go from basement dwellers to potentially hosting the CHL’s crown jewel in 2012, the MasterCard Memorial Cup, which pits the Western Hockey League, the Ontario Hockey League, the QMJHL Champions, and the host team which automatically qualifies for the round-robin tournament.

“We’ve haven’t had the greatest team the last few years, but it’s been great so far,” Andrews said. “The education experience is good, the hockey itself and the life we live, I enjoy it a lot.”

After not being selected in the 2008 QMJHL Draft, Gillard committed to the Black Bears in April of 2009, two months before being selected by Halifax in the 2009 Draft.

“I got passed over my first year of the draft and I was disappointed with that,” Gillard stated. “Maine was talking to me after that and I really took that into thought. Halifax has such a great organization, you can’t turn that down.”

Ashley said it was the hardest decision he has ever made when he told Tim Whitehead he wasn’t going to Orono.

“That’s probably the toughest not, if not the toughest call I probably ever made,” Ashley said who had a goal and an assist in the 9-3 loss to the Lewiston Maineiacs on January 13th. “They have a fantastic program down there and the coaching staff really helps develop players. Now they have one of the best coaching staffs in the whole NCAA and the faculties down there are professional. It’s a great spot in Orono and it’s the toughest decision as I made as a person.”

Ashley said playing in the QMJHL didn’t have to do with his NHL draft stock for this upcoming draft.

“That didn’t have anything to do with my decision,” he added. “I would have helped my draft (status) to go down to the (United States Hockey League) for a year then go to college but I felt (Halifax) would be better in the long run for my development.”

Andrews looked at the QMJHL to help him get selected in the 2011 NHL Draft by playing at the highest level possible.

Andrews kept in contact with his Ashley last year as both played for the Cornwall Colts of Prince Edward Island-New Brunswick Major Midget Hockey League in 2008-2009 season. They both played with each other at the 2010 World Under-17 Challenge with Team Atlantic

Last year when I was at the (World) Under-17 Challenge with Team Atlantic, he put the pressure on me, telling me what a great spot it is. Ian Cox was the trainer up there and they did a lot to persuading and the management here, it seemed like the best fit.”

Andrews hoped he’s one of the reasons why Ashley came to Halifax.

“I was in Darcy’s ear a lot at the Under-17’s,” Andrews said. “I just told him it would be a good fit for him. He’s a guy that can get points anywhere he plays. The Q would be a good fit and Halifax would help him and he would help us.”

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