Spruce Grove Saints General Manager Rob Sklaruk followed through with his promise to be active at the Alberta Junior Hockey League trade deadline, adding a pair of forwards, Ryan Peckford and Mackenzie Harden.
Size, skill, and emotion. Trade deadline wish list fulfilled.
Spruce Grove Saints general manager Rob Sklaruk followed through with his promise to be active at the Alberta Junior Hockey League trade deadline, adding a pair of forwards, Ryan Peckford and Mackenzie Harden.
Peckford joins the Saints after spending the last four seasons split between the Victoria Royals and Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League.
The six-foot-one, 198-pound Stony Plain born forward compiled eight goals and eight assists in 20 games this season with Moose Jaw, building on his career best 49 points split between Victoria and Moose Jaw last season. He decided a change of scenery and a move back to his hometown is the best way to finish out his junior career.
“Ryan is a local kid that signed in the WHL at a young age. He had a great career there,” said Sklaruk. “He decided to come home. … With his pedigree, he’s going to make a lot of guys better, and our team better.”
He added Peckford has a heavy shot with an elite release, and he isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas.
The addition helps fill the need for additional firepower down the stretch, in a staunch North Division.
“With the season inching closer to playoffs goals become harder to score. Adding Ryan and his experience is certainly a huge boost to our team,” said head coach Bram Stephen.
Joining Peckford on the front end will be fellow 19-year-old Harden. Harden joins the Saints from the Whitecourt Wolverines in exchange for cash and future considerations.
The Leduc native has scored 11 goals and added 19 assists for 30 points and 50 penalty minutes in 38 games this season, already a career high In each category. The six-foot, 181-pound centre is expected to bring emotion and grit to the offence.
Since the beginning of the season, the coaching staff has said the club needs to be stronger on the puck. Harden will have no trouble filling that role.
“Having coached against Mackenzie for the past two seasons, he is a player you notice every game by the way he competes and the effort he gives, it’s infectious.” said Stephen.
Jacob Ashton will be leaving the Saints to make room for the new additions. Ashton scored five goals and eight assists for a total of 13 points in 38 games with the Saints, after posting 23 goals and 24 assists in 47 games for the Canmore Eagles last season.
Both new forwards could be in the line up for the Saints matchup Friday against the Grande Prairie Storm at the Grant Fuhr Arena. Puck drop is 7 p.m.