2018-19 Pollock Division Preview: Hanover Barons

It was a rough ride to the bottom last season for a Hanover Barons organization with their sights set on a massive rebound.

The Barons suffered through one of their toughest seasons in recent memory, tumbling all the way to the bottom of the Pollock Division with just 6 wins and only managing 15 points. A thin roster and some injuries didn’t help, and there were big changes at the top, as GM Andy “Chum” McAskil was replaced with Brian Zabel, with McAskil joining the Wingham Ironmen. New Head Coach Bobby Kirby was also brought in to take over from Terry Whiteside, who stood in as coach for long stretches, and remains as Director of Hockey Ops. This year, the Barons are hoping a cast of returning talent and the addition of new young players will help push them forward. There’s no where to go but up.

Up front, Hanover gets back leading scorer Jorden Reaman (26 points), and they are hoping with more familiarity and another year of experience will lead to bigger things. Also returning is Brett Zabel (14 points) and Tyson Lina (12 points). New additions include Cody Camm, the former captain of the Minto Mad Dogs, who new GM Brian Zabel says can step in and provide more offensive spark. More new faces include Brodie Hoffele, the assistant captain in Minto who can play a power forward role, and Jordan Ferrier, who should be able to provide some goal scoring, especially at the net front on the power play. It’s highly likely Noah Johnson also returns, which would be a massive boost after he put up 17 points. Regardless, this team scored a division low 77 goals last year, which was last by a mile, and they will need a lot of things to gel quickly and see big internal improvement to top 100.

Defensively, Hanover will be ecstatic to have back talented defender and team captain Colten Culbert. Culbert is one of the most skilled defensemen in the league, and he actually tied forward Jorden Reaman for the team scoring lead with 26 points. Reaman can man a power play, make great breakout passes, and keep his own end well protected. The issue is that he was often the only defender who could consistently do all those things. Impressive youngster Derek Cornfield is back after a 14 point campaign, and new signing Zach DeForest will step in and get immediate opportunities on both special teams unit after signing up from the Guelph Gryphons AAA Midget team. The Barons also made a splash to vastly improve their top four, as veteran Brock Philips was acquired in a trade from Mount Forest. Philips has won everything, form a Sutherland Cup with Jr. B Elmira to the last two Pollock Divisions with the Patriots. He will bring instant leadership and credibility, and most of all shutdown ability, to a team that desperately needs it.

In goal, Luke Aulthouse returns after a very trying season in which he faced a ton of pucks, but was often Hanover’s best and hardest working player. Aulthouse went 4-17-0 with an .870 save percentage and a 4.57 GAA. Those numbers aren’t bad at all considering the amount of minutes and shots he had to deal with, and he’s more than capable of using his big frame to keep the Barons in most games, especially with an improved team ahead of him. Joining Aulthouse in the blue paint is newcomer Corson Marit, a goalie out of the vaunted¬†Grey Bruce Highlanders AAA Midget program. Marit was also a 2016-17 Minor Midget Alliance All-Star with the Kitchener Jr Rangers AAA club, and GM Brian Zabel thinks he can push Aulthouse for starts and create a healthy competition in the crease, something the Barons could certainly be better for.