Ahead of a slate of internationally exhibition games in Germany this week, the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees men's hockey team has added a pair of NCAA transfers to the program.
Connor Brown-Maloski (Kelowna, BC) joins the team following a pair of seasons at Bemidji State University, while local product Martin Frechette (Rockland, Ont.) will suit up in Garnet and Grey after two seasons at the University of Vermont.
"The two guys we are bringing in still have three years to play," Head Coach Patrick Grandmaître explained. "They'll be rookies on our teams, but you almost consider those like acquiring in a trade from a team that's playing at the level we're playing."
The 22-year old Frechette and 23-year-old Brown-Maloski also add an additional element of veteran leadership to a core of players in their fourth season.
"At the age they're coming in … we won't have to worry about the academic load that will come with coming to this level," Grandmaître added.
"With the results we had last year, and the fact we have a lot of players going into their last year, we didn't want to have a year where we're kind of reseting. We're bringing in a couple of true rookies as well, but bringing in two NCAA guys, it's adding some veteran presence in a way."
Before heading south of the border, Frechette was an offensive talent locally with the Cumberland Grads of the CCHL. Over four seasons, he tallied 180 points over the course of 219 regular season games.
In 2015-16, Frechette scored 36 goals and 35 assists, both career highs, and was named to the CCHL Second All-Star Team at the end of the season.
"I would describe myself as a fast playmaker, a puck-moving guy. I like to use my teammates a lot, either give-and-go's, or use them as much as they want to use me," Frechette explained.
When Frechette suits up in Garnet and Grey for the first time, he'll be a second-generation Gee-Gee within his family. His father, Luc, played on the men's hockey team from 1987-92.
"I haven't thought about it too much yet, I'm sure he's really excited, my grandparents as well, to get to go back to the 'old rink' and take a look at another family member in the Gee-Gees jersey," Martin said.
Grandmaître recalled seeing Frechette play a number of times during his time in Cumberland.
"We know him well as a player and as a person, we know his game and a few people that have coached him. So we know what we are getting," he said.
"With the past his parents have had, and the type of family they are, we know of them and we've heard only great things about them and their work ethic. It's great to add great hockey players, but also as importantly a great person with a great work ethic."
Brown-Maloski's junior career was spent in his home province of British Columbia in the BCHL, first with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks, then three seasons with the Trail Smoke Eaters.
"I like to say I'm a good skating, two-way centreman," Brown-Maloski explained. "I like to create offence but I also don't shy away from the physicality of the game. That's a big part of my game, forechecking and making it hard on the defensemen."
In his final season with Trail in 2016-17, Brown-Maloski captained the team and set career highs with 15 goals and 39 assists for a total of 54 point, and notched another 14 points in 10 playoff games.
He also went head-to-head against another hard-nosed skater in Victoria Grizzlies captain — and current Gee-Gees defenceman — Cody Van Lierop.
"I remember playing against Cody," Brown-Maloski recalled. "I texted him over the summer to ask him some questions, he was my go-to guy for that."
With Brown-Maloski's physical style of play, Grandmaître believes he'll fit right in from the drop of the puck.
"He comes in with a great academic resume. He's been a leader wherever he's played. A guy that's coming from the NCAA, it's quite demanding, he'll be used to the routine, it'll be a smooth transition to the U SPORTS side of things," he said.
The 2019-20 edition of the Gee-Gees men's hockey team will first hit the ice on Aug. 31 as part of a three-game exhibition trip to Germany.
The first and only home game during the preseason is slated for Sept. 21 against the University of Toronto. Tickets will go on sale later this month at tickets.geegees.ca