(LaSALLE, ON) – The LaSalle Vipers are welcoming back two players fans will be familiar with, Blake Jones and Liam MacDougall, general manager Bill Bowler announced. Additionally, the squad has added James Brooks from the Amherstburg Admirals.
Jones, 19, played two years in LaSalle before joining the Georgetown Raiders of the OJHL last season. He has recorded 48 points in 85 career regular season games for the Vipers.
“Blake’s a real smart hockey player, a veteran guy now who two years ago had an excellent playoffs for us,” Bowler said. “We’re hoping Blake can provide some leadership and timely goals.”
In his first game back in LaSalle, Jones scored the double overtime winner September 2 to give the Vipers a 4-3 preseason victory over the Leamington Flyers.
“It was a good feeling,” Jones said of scoring the game-winner. “A big win by the boys after being down 2-0 going into the third period. It was a good character win by the group.”
“I think I’m coming into a big role as a leader on and off the ice,” he added.
MacDougall, 17, led the Lakeshore Canadiens in scoring as a rookie a season ago, posting 45 points in 40 games.
He followed his impressive Jr C season with a strong showing as an affiliated player during the Vipers Sutherland Cup run.
“Great job by our affiliate in Lakeshore, Liam made great strides last year,” Bowler said. “We think he’s going to take off and excel at the B level. With his speed and creativity, we’re hoping we can use him in all situations.”
In all, the Windsor native has already played 27 games in a Vipers sweater.
The crafty centre joins a long list of undrafted Windsor Jr Spitfires AAA graduates to make the leap to Jr B in LaSalle, including players like Tyler Russell and Eric Kirby.
“We already have good chemistry and it’s only going to get better,” MacDougall said, adding that he looks forward to the challenge of playing in any situation the coaching staff plans to use him, including on the penalty kill.
“I hope I get that opportunity,” said MacDougall. “I feel that with my speed, I can get to loose pucks faster than the other team and turn that into offensive chances. I’m a team-first guy, I’ll do anything to help the team win.”
The Vipers have also added the Great Lakes Junior C Hockey League’s top scorer, forward James Brooks, Bowler announced.
Brooks, 19, lapped the field a year ago as a Jr C rookie with the Amherstburg Admirals, posting 33 goals and an eye-popping 69 points in just 39 games. He finished 11 points clear of the next highest finisher, teammate Mark Gangnon.
“Obviously my teammates were a big part of it,” Brooks said. “I was thankful to have two good players on my line who could get me the puck.”
The Windsor native added another 19 points in 16 playoff games.
It is that offensive flair that Bowler hopes Brooks, a Villanova high school graduate and four-time WECSSAA and SWOSSAA champion, can bring to the Vipers line-up in his first tour of duty in Jr B.
“Brooks has been a high-end scorer at the Jr C level and we’re hoping that translates to our level,” Bowler said. “We’re hoping he can come in and provide some scoring immediately.”
The 6’2” forward can generate offence in a variety of ways, scoring just 12 of his league-leading points total on the man-advantage. He says his strength is his hockey sense and his ability to read and react.
Despite putting up a league-high 33 goals, Brooks says he doesn’t think of himself as a pure goal scorer.
“I’m a play maker, I think pass first,” he said. “I find it easier to find the open guy back door or in the slot.”
Brooks has already got his first taste of Hometown Hockey in LaSalle, skating for the Vipers in their 4-3 double overtime pre-season win over the Flyers.
The Vipers will begin their season Saturday in London at the GOJHL Showcase against the Listowel Cyclones.
The home opener, September 16 at the Vollmer Centre, will be preceded by an open to the public tailgate party, with free food and entertainment headlined by recording artist Crystal Gage, and featuring bouncy castles from Red Line Inflatables, and more.