PJHL Season Preview: Kincardine Bulldogs
With a new head coach and a fresh outlook, the Kincardine Bulldogs had an excellent 2019-20 campaign.
Under former Listowel Cyclones Assistant Coach Todd Norman, the Bulldogs improved upon their already punishing defensive style and rose up the standings to ultimately finish 3rd behind Wingham and Mount Forest. Heading into an uncertain season this year, if or when we do see the Bulldogs play, it will be more of the same, albeit with some new faces after a flurry of offseason activity from GM Warren Beisel.
Up front, despite scoring the 3rd fewest goals in the Pollock Division, the Bulldogs have an array of weapons returning. Gone are Jordan Caskanette, who left just before Christmas last year to pursue an NCAA lacrosse scholarship. Logan Freiburger, the second highest scorer on the team last year with 46 points, is also gone alongside fellow veterans Brett Burrows and Tyler Sutter.
However, leading scorer and leader Mike Fiegehen, who had 49 points, will return to lead the charge. Kincardine is usually a score by committee group who focus on limiting opponents, so 2-1, 3-2 or 1-0 score lines are their specialty. Jerrid Fossold and former Listowel Cyclone speedster Bryce McFadden will also return to lend scoring punch. Kaleb Martin and Jeremy Davidson will also get increased roles. New faces up front include Jr. B vet Cameron Lightfoot, who spent time with the Thorold Hawks, AP player Liam Calhoun, who saw 10 games last year with the Bulldogs, and Gavin Gibbons out of Shallow Lake. Also signed are AP players Jordan Moulton, Jordan Beisel and Wilson Shipp who also saw action for Kincardine in stints last year. The Bulldogs are fully rostered up front.
On the back end, Kincardine will, as GM Warren Beisel says, “lean on” the returning veteran presence of Logan Swanton, one of the finest defenders in the division. He will be joined by returning vets like Kent Ribey, Carson English and Joseph Pringle. The team is pretty set with a great top 4, and Beisel is excited about the signing of youngster Caleb Morrison, a Grey Bruce Highlander and Guelph AAA product with a big shot and an already big frame. Kincardine will still have no trouble pushing opponents around in their zone and suffocating offensive players.
In goal, rookie sensation Sean Andrus has signed with the Jr. B St. Marys Lincolns, a great look for the Bulldogs as they continue to develop high end athletes. Replacing him will be new signing Josh Jacklin, a Huron Perth Lakers product and former Listowel Minor Hockey standout who won multiple OMHA All Ontario titles. Jacklin is an exciting prospect with plenty of winning pedigree already, and Beisel says they’re confident he can be impactful right away. Jamie Brock, a former Wingham Ironmen goalie who suited up for the Bulldogs last year, won’t return as he is focusing on his carpentry career, so Jacklin will get the chance to take the ball and run. He gets the benefit of playing behind a super tight defensive squad who only allowed 119 goals last year, 3rd best in the Pollock.
If we see junior hockey this year, which we all hope we do, Kincardine won’t be going anywhere in terms of being contenders. They have an excellent veteran core and exciting new rookies coming into the fold, and Todd Norman is as fine a coach as you could find at this level. For more on the hopefully upcoming Kincardine Bulldogs season, here’s the full interview with GM Warren Beisel: