It’s recruitment time for the Bombers - and the team has been busy.
Once the season wrapped up May 27, the Bombers wasted no time in picking up new faces for next season. Since the end of the Centennial Cup, the team has signed no fewer than eight new players for next season, with more likely on the way.
The first of the bunch came May 30, when the team signed Regina-born forward Dawson Karol from the U18 AAA Yorkton Maulers. The 2004-born Karol, who is listed at 5-foot-9 and 181 pounds, played in 44 games with the Maulers last year, putting up 20 points. Karol also played games with the junior B Regina Capitals and the Bombers, with whom he played one game as an affiliated player in February.
Karol joined the Bombers in each of their last two spring camps and at the team’s 2021 training camp, getting time in three preseason games before being sent back to AAA.
“Dawson has been on our 50-man protected list for over a year now and has continued to get better every time our staff has seen him play,” said Bomber assistant coach and assistant general manager Cole McCaig.
“He’s had a great showing at the last three camps he’s attended and we feel he’ll be a great addition to our forward group.”
Another signing from Regina was announced June 3, with the Bombers picking up defender Dryden Jeannot. Another player who had made splashes at previous Bomber camps (including the 2021 main camp), Jeannot put up 17 points with Yorkton in 42 games. Jeannot joined the Bombers as an affiliate player once the season was over in Yorkton, even being named to the team’s initial announced roster for the Centennial Cup, though he did not play.
The 6-foot, 205-pound defender is seen as a good all-around defender by Bomber head coach and GM Mike Reagan, who also mentioned his time already spent with the team.
“Dryden spent the last couple of months with us learning our systems, which will help with his transition next season,” said Reagan.
“He has good size, hockey IQ and great patience with the puck. All attributes that will help him become a solid junior A defenceman.”
June 7 brought another signing - defender Liam Foley, originally from Winnipeg and a product of the Interlake Lightning U18 AAA program. Playing for the Lightning last season, Foley scored 19 points in 41 games, adding a few games with the Charleswood Hawks junior B team later in the year. The 2004-born defender brings a 6-foot-1, 190-pound frame and a steady two-way game with him up north.
“Liam is a good two-way defenceman that thinks the game well. He gets up and down the ice with good pace,” said Bomber Manitoba scout Mark Patton.
“He will be a calming presence on the Bombers' backend because he is poised with the puck, gets his eyes up the ice and has the ability to make good outlet passes.”
The Bombers then kept it in the family June 11 with another player announcement, bringing in forward Zach Vockler. Vockler, originally from Sioux Falls, S.D., played with the NA3HL’s Badlands Sabres last season, finishing with 51 points in 44 games and earning a spot in the league’s top prospects tournament.
Vockler is the younger brother of Bomber forward Jacob Vockler, who debuted in maroon and white last season. Zach is a year younger and smaller than his brother - listed at 5-foot-8 compared to his brother’s six-foot stature - but brings some talent and sandpaper into the Bomber fold.
“Zach has a great combination of grit and skill. He had a very impressive showing at our spring camp in May and we’re excited to see what he can do at the junior A level,” said McCaig.
“Zach had a great season with the Badlands Sabres in the same league Gabriel Shipper came from. With his brother Jacob being in Flin Flon, Zach understands our expectations and is obviously very familiar with our program.”
The Bombers would then head west for their most recent signings, picking up three Alberta prospects. First came defender Aiden Chow, whose signing was announced June 13. Chow stands 6-foot-4, 185 pounds and he was the captain of the CAC Canadians U18 AAA program last season, scoring four goals and having 21 points in 37 games in Alberta’s AAA ranks. Chow also played a pair of junior A games with the AJHL’s Blackfalds Bulldogs.
“Aiden is a big framed mobile defenceman who has proven that he can log a lot of minutes at the U18 AAA level,” said Bomber head scout and director of player personnel Jon Klassen.
“He is a two-way defenceman who is responsible defensively. Aiden has a cannon of a shot that not too many players are going to want to block.”
Forward Mason Hartley would also join the fold June 17, signing up with the Bombers after a season with th Northern Alberta Xtreme U18 prep team. Hartley, who suited up as an affiliate with the AJHL’s Whitecourt Wolverines, scored 43 points in 31 games with the Xtreme.
“Mason comes to play every night. He’s not afraid to go get the puck, has great vision and moves the puck well. He’s a very mature kid that plays the game the right way,” said Klassen.
The next recruit announced by the team is Mathew Langdon, a Sherwood Park, Alta. prospect who last played for the U18 AAA Sherwood Park Kings. With the Kings last year, the 6-foot-2, 161 pound forward put up 28 points in 36 games.
“We feel Matthew has the tools to become a very good junior A player. He’s got great size at 6-foot-2, along with a great skill set and a heavy shot,” said McCaig.
“He uses his size well with his physicality and puck protection. He’s the type of player that can play anywhere in your lineup.”
Another Alberta prospect was announced by the team June 23, with the team signing up defender Jack Wieninger. Another Alberta U18 AAA product, the 5-foot-11, 160 pounder - originally from Ontario but now living in Edmonton - put up 29 points in 38 games with the South Side Athletic Club U18 AAA team last season.
“Jack is an offensive defenceman that put up great numbers last season in the AEHL U18 AAA league," said Reagan.
"We like the way he creates offensive opportunities by walking the blueline and his ability to get pucks through to net from the point.”
The Bombers have announced a total of 12 prospects for next season - players Joey Lies and Rylan Pearce were announced as recruits for next year before the end of the season and are slated to join the team if they don’t make WHL rosters at the start of the year. Another pair of recruits, Liam Bridger and Greg Diamond, were also announced during the season.
Up to six defenders, two goalies and nine forwards from last year’s team are likely to return to the Bombers this year.