One key player for the Bombers has headed south, possibly for the rest of the season.
Tristan Lemyre, the reigning SJHL rookie of the year and the top scorer eligible to return to the league this season, has taken his talents to the west bank of the Mississippi, joining training camp with the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints. The Fighting Saints announced Lemyre’s attendance at camp via Twitter Sept. 10.
The Saints picked Lemyre in the first round of this year’s USHL Phase II draft, picking him 14th overall. At the time, Fighting Saints GM Kalle Larsson described Lemyre as a “fast skating shooter who likes to score and is good at it… driven to get better.”
Larsson added that there was “still some work to be done to ensure he comes to [Dubuque] but he’s too good to pass up on.”
Earlier in the offseason, Bombers head coach and general manager Mike Reagan said he was unsure if Lemyre would come back to Flin Flon and said a USHL opportunity is hard for a player like Lemyre to pass up.
“That’s a tough one. I don’t know. I know Tristan loves it here and that sort of thing, but obviously the USHL is probably the best developmental league as far as getting players ready for NCAA Division I and he’s got to worry about his development and be ready for Denver in a year’s time,” he said back in June.
“The mindset is, if Tristan plays in the USHL next year, we’re happy for him. That’s a credit to our organization and developing players to play at that level. It would be like a player in the ECHL getting an opportunity to play in the American Hockey League. Not too many players are going to turn that down. If that’s where he ends up, we’re extremely happy for him and we feel we’ve done a good job at developing him for that level. I’ve always had the mindset that if a player can play in the USHL, then we’re not going to hold him back.”
Lemyre made his junior A debut with the Bombers last season and became one of the team’s breakout stars, finishing the season with 30 goals and 62 points in 44 games. The Mirabel, Que. native committed to the NCAA’s Denver University Pioneers, one of the U.S.’ top Division I hockey programs. Lemyre is slated to join the team in the 2021/22 season.
If Lemyre makes the team, he will play in the top junior hockey league in the U.S., a 16-team loop that has spawned NHL players like Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Kyle Connor and a slew of NCAA Division I stars. In the NHL last season, seven of the league’s top 25 scoring players were USHL alums. Last year’s Fighting Saints roster included two NHL draft picks.
If Lemyre doesn’t make the team, the Bombers would likely welcome the diminutive dynamo with open arms. Without Lemyre, the club will be left with only two of the team’s top eight scorers from last season eligible or able to suit up this year - the Haygarth twins, Chase and Easton.
Out of players likely to come back to the SJHL this season, only Humboldt’s Tristan Shewchuk and Luke Spadafora, the Haygarths, La Ronge’s James Philpott and Estevan’s Eddie Gallagher cleared 50 points in the league last year. Two other top players from the SJHL last season - Battlefords’ Quintin Loon-Stewardson and Humboldt’s Karter McNarland - are both in the U.S. attending USHL camps, while second-highest returning scorer Austin Becker, an American, may be unlikely to return to the Battlefords due to the Canada/U.S. border situation.