The Flin Flon Bombers are in full-on offseason recruiting mode, announcing a number of new faces for next season.
After losing substantial size from their blueline this offseason, the Bombers are turning to the west to find possible reinforcement.
The Bombers officially welcomed defender Ayden Lane to the club June 16. The defender from Mission, B.C. played in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) last year with the Yale Hockey Academy Lions. In 33 games with Yale last season, Lane added 13 points. Lane also played a stretch of time in the BCHL with the Merritt Centennials, suiting up for six games.
At 6-foot-3, 174 pounds, Lane will slot in as one of the team’s largest defencemen. Only two returning players - forwards Hayden Clayton and Reid Robertson - are taller than Lane.
"We're really excited to add Ayden to our lineup. He's a big strong kid with good mobility. He's a solid two-way defenceman with a very high ceiling," said Bombers assistant coach Cole McCaig.
Another Manitoba product is coming north. Former Eastman Selects U18 AAA captain Drayden Kurbatoff committed to the maroon and white June 18.
The 2002-born forward wore the “C” for the Selects last season and earned it, leading the team in assists and finishing second in total scoring with 49 points in 44 games. Originally from Grunthal, Man., Kurbatoff would also lead the team in playoff scoring with four goals and six points in six games. The Selects program is the same one that produced former Bomber defenceman Dane Hirst.
Kurbatoff has already shown well in limited junior A action. The forward played four games with the MJHL’s Dauphin Kings last season, scoring once and chipping in two assists.
Bombers Manitoba scout Mark Patton raved about Kurbatoff’s two-way game and offensive capabilities.
"Drayden is a solid player who plays relentlessly on both sides of the puck. He’s strong on his feet with good physical strength, allowing him to play in traffic. He gets to dangerous spots offensively and utilizes his quick release and heavy shot."
The Bombers kept it in the family with one of their latest recruit.
Defenceman Reece Richmond signed a commitment letter with the team June 23. Richmond, a 2002-born defender from Forrest, Man., is the younger brother of Bomber veteran Ryder Richmond. The two played together with the Yellowhead Chiefs U18 AAA program before Ryder headed up to Flin Flon.
Last season, Reece attended Bomber camp and practiced with the team, but did not suit up for any games. The defenceman, then 17, was disallowed from joining the team by Canadian junior A rules that dictate a player is not allowed to move out of province to play junior A hockey if a team in their home province owns their rights. Reece was picked by the Dauphin Kings second overall in the 2017 MJHL draft but never reported to the team.
Once Richmond was disallowed from playing with the Bombers, he played a handful of games as an affiliated player with the Portage Terriers, tallying one assist in six games.
At 5-foot-11, 194 pounds, Richmond is already bigger than his older brother. Comparing the pair’s U18 stats with Yellowhead gives Reece an edge over Ryder, too - in both of the last two seasons, Reece has tallied more than point per game on defence, something Ryder was unable to accomplish.
The Bombers have been attempting to wrangle up defence all summer - now, their latest recruit is on the scene to provide some offensive firepower.
Mackenzie Carson is officially a full-fledged Bomber, committing to the club for next season June 25.
The 2002-born, 6-foot-1, 185 pound forward was one of the Saskatchewan U18 AAA league’s most dangerous triggermen last season with the Tisdale Trojans. Under the watchful eye of Trojans head coach Dennis Kubat, himself a former Bomber star, Carson pumped home 31 goals and 44 points in 44 games with the Trojans, then added another five goals and seven points in six playoff games with the club.
Only four players topped 30 goals last season in Saskatchewan U18 AAA. Out of that group of four, only two players have committed to play for SJHL clubs this season. Both of those players - Carson and forward Cole Duperreault - have signed up with the Bombers.
A former fifth round pick of the Bombers in the 2017 SJHL draft, Carson played a game as an affiliate player last year, being held off the scoresheet in his debut as a Bomber cager.
Carson played with scads of possible future Bombers in Tisdale last season. Along with him, forward Kylynn Olafson, defender Cole Tanchuk and goalie Hunter Lolacher are all either bantam draft picks or listed players with the Bombers.