By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – The Timmins Rock have traded defenceman A.J. Holenski to the French River Rapids in a cash transaction.
Holenski (3, 0-0-0, 0), who suited up for the Rock during Thursday night’s 9-1 victory over the Powassan Voodoos, was expected to be in the lineup when the Rapids hosted the Blind River Beavers at the Noelville Arena Friday night, but details of that contest were not available at press time.
“A.J. Was not getting a lot of ice time with us, so it really wasn’t fair to him,” said Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne.
“You can’t really expect him to develop if he is not going to play. You can’t expect him to play with any confidence if he is not getting any ice time.”
The impending debut of fellow blue-liner Brandon Campbell in the Rock lineup Sunday night in Powassan had a big impact on the Rock’s decision to move Holenski on Friday.
“His addition to the lineup would have meant even less ice time for A.J.,” Gagne said.
“I think French River is down to four defencemen, so he will have an opportunity to play, gain some ice time and gain some confidence.
“They have a young team, so this move should be good for him and good for them.
“They have a great organization and, as you know, Moe (Mantha) is a good coach, so A.J. will be in good hands.”
The Rock will get an opportunity to see Holenski in a Rapids jersey first hand Saturday night when the travel to French River to play their first road game of the season.
“That always adds motivation for a player when he gets to play against his former team,” Gagne said.
“That isn’t always good news for the former team, but A.J. is a great person. I am confident he is going to excel with the Rapids.”
The Rock acquired Holenski from the Niagara Falls Rivermen, of the SCTAMM, prior to the start of training camp.
A right-handed shooting defenceman, Holenski had difficulty getting regular shifts on a Rock blue-line that features Spencer Segui, Grant McClellan and converted forward Kyle Levis, even before the addition of Campbell.
Even though the Rock have traded Holenski to reduce their surplus of blue-liners, the team continues to look at the possibility of adding another D-man to the mix.
“That has always been on the table,” Gagne said.
“In hockey, you are always looking. We are developing the players we have now and we are happy with them, but if something comes up we will look at it. That’s Junior ‘A’ hockey.”