The Queen’s Men’s Hockey Team made significant improvements during this offseason, bolstering their offensive and defensive lineups. The team is hoping to surpass past efforts and bring home an OUA championship for the first time since the 2018-19 campaign. The roster for the 2023-24 season features both fresh faces and seasoned veterans. These are the most promising players to keep an eye out for on the ice.
Cole Shepard, Comm ’27, is among the best players across the OUA this year. Having just recently won the Lou Jeffries Scholarship, a community-funded scholarship awarded during the Lou Jefferies annual Queen’s game, it looks like he’ll have an immediate impact for the Gaels this season.
Coming off his final junior hockey season with the Lethbridge Hurricanes, Shepard totaled 55 points in a 65-game season, simultaneously putting up 62 penalty minutes.
Shepard’s offensive talent, combined with his gritty style of play, will help integrate him within the blue-collar play style Head Coach Brett Gibson hopes all his players will embody this season.
There are very few areas on the ice where Shepard can’t make an impact.
His speed allows him to take the lead when breaking into the offensive zone or to support his teammates as needed. Shepard’s high hockey IQ paired with incredible shot release, makes him a threat in the offensive zone.
Entering his third season with the Gaels, Jonathan Yantsis, ArtSci ’24 looks to guide the Gaels to new heights.
Yantsis is an explosive power-forward with a knack for getting in the crease and causing havoc for the opposing goaltender. Although the Gaels struggled to produce offensively last season, Yantsis remained successful having achieved 12 points in 19 games and posted 26 points in 19 games the previous year.
Yantsis is listed at 6’3”, and his ability to utilize his frame on the offensive end of the ice is sure to compliment the rest of the Gaels roster as the season gets underway. Further contributing to the blue-collar identity, the Gaels are aiming for.
Earlier this year, Yantsis was selected to be a part of Team Canada for the FISU World University Games, an Olympic-type event for university students of varying backgrounds. Yantsis potted 11 points in just seven games, retaining a plus-minus +10. This included a two-goal performance against Kazakhstan, sending Team Canada to the gold medal game.
Hayden Fowler, ArtSci ’25 is another familiar face returning to the Gaels for his third season. Although the Gaels struggled offensively over his tenure here, Fowler has remained a bright spot in the Gaels’ offence.
Sitting at around one point per game since joining the team in the 2021-22 season, Fowler consistently finds ways to contribute on the scoresheet, aligning with Gibson’s goal of improving offensively.
Aside from Fowler’s athletic ability, his on-ice vision and IQ is what sets him apart.
Finding defensive players in the offensive zone to create scoring chances and creating turnovers with his relentless forecheck are just a couple examples of the innumerable ways Fowler embodies a true dynamic player.
As an offensive-defensive threat who’s always able to lock down the defensive zone, Owen Lalonde, ArtSci ’25 is an anomaly.
Posting 35 points in his 41-game U SPORTS career, Lalonde has upheld his status as an asset since joining the Gaels’ roster in 2021. As a defensive player, he’s generated more points than some forwards throughout his Queen’s career.
While physicality and grit are traits highly coveted by Gibson, so is discipline. Throughout Lalonde’s career, he manages to stay out of the penalty box, which is an underrated aspect of his game that allows him to remain a constant threat from minute zero to 60.
Having won the J. Ross Robertson Cup with the Guelph Storm in the 2018-19 season, Lalonde knows how to win. I have no doubt he can bring his wealth of experience into this season to help guide fresh Gaels faces on a deep playoff run.
Overall, the Gaels have built the roster needed to succeed in the OUA’s East Division, and their combination of skillful newcomers and dedicated veterans should assist them in making a compelling campaign toward OUA gold. Keep an eye on these players, they will be difference-makers.
The Gaels’ season officially starts Oct. 5 in Oshawa against the Ontario Tech Ridgebacks.
All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.