Timmins Rock forward Tyler Schwindt will be back in the maroon, gold and white for the 2020-21 NOJHL campaign. The New Hamburg native proved to be an effective penalty killer last season and also put up 15 goals — including five on the power play — and 30 points. THOMAS PERRY/THE DAILY PRESS/POSTMEDIA NETWORK
The Timmins Rock will have a versatile forward back in the maroon, gold and white for the 2020-21 NOJHL campaign, along with a pair of CIHA Green teammates.
Tyler Schwindt (55, 15-15-30, 22), a New Hamburg native, is the latest Rock forward who has committed to returning to the lineup and hopefully bring an NOJHL championship to Timmins.
He will be joined by forward Nicolas Pigeon (44, 18-30-48, 16) and blue-liner Félix Cadieux-Fredette (40, 3-25-28, 81), who both competed in the HEO U18 league in 2019-20.
Rock coach Corey Beer certainly appreciates what Schwindt brings to the lineup in all three zones.
“If you had asked me before I looked at the stats sheet, I never would have guessed Schwinny had 15 goals and 15 assists,” he said.
“Schwinny was scratched Game 1 of the year and he was never scratched again.
“That has to be the most flattering comment you can say about him.
“He just started doing everything the right way. Okay, he didn’t have a great training camp, whatever.
“Then, he came into the lineup in Game 2 and he provided a little bit of offence. He got himself going physically. He was a speed burner out there and his game just kept developing.
“He has got this offensive side of his game, where he was making real skilled plays, in tight areas, and I was going this guy is more than just an up-and-down winger.
“He started making better plays as the season went on.
“Tyler Schwindt, for me, is a guy who embodies the heartbeat of our team, too. He is a great kid in the room and he gets the guys fired up.
“He has got this intensity about him where he will run through a brick wall for anybody in there. Then, he goes out and he backs it up with his play.
“We are super lucky to get Schwinny back. He is one of those great room guys you can’t have enough of in your lineup.”
Clearly, the coach feels Rock fans have not yet seen the best Schwindt has to offer, either.
“He was tied for second on our team in power play goals (five) and he only played a month and a half on the power play,” Beer said.
“He is a guy who is in line for more minutes, more opportunities and I can already see from the workout videos he is doing that he is primed and ready to go.”
“I love coaching him and I can’t say enough good things about him.”
Schwindt is confident the Rock will be able to pick up from where they left off in 2019-20 — hopefully minus any COVID-19 interruptions.
“With so many of the guys coming back, it is going to be awesome,” he said.
“Being here last year, it almost felt like a second family for me and I feel like all the boys are ready to go.”
The left-hand shooting, 2001-birth-year forward was pleased with his rookie campaign in the NOJHL.
“I had been pretty much a penalty killer, but all the coaches got me playing a two-way role,” he said.
“I felt really comfortable taking the puck on my own and the coaching staff really boosted my confidence when it comes to offensive plays, for sure.”
Schwindt feels teamwork is the key to any good penalty kill.
“It is not just an individual thing,” he said.
“It is also the goalie and the three other players who are on the ice with you. You look at Ricky (Eric) Moreau, great penalty killer. You look at (Evan) Beaudry, great penalty killer. I played a lot of minutes with Stewie Parnell killing penalties.
“All of those guys, were great penalty killers on our team.”
As good as Schwindt’s offensive numbers were in 2019-20, he is confident they might be even better this year.
“For sure, I am playing with some high-quality players,” he said.
“But our team game is more important. The points will come, but as long as our team is winning and having fun, that’s what matters to the most.”
For the most part, Beer likes to mix and match his forward combinations.
“I got to play with just about everyone” Schwindt said.
“I got to share some time with (Josh) Dickson and (Captain Derek Seguin) Segs for a couple of shifts. I got a lot of time with Phil Caron and Stew Parnell, with (Riley) Robitaille and (Cameron) Kosurko, with (Riley Brousseau) Broussy, all the boys, really.
“I got to play with everyone and see where I fit in the most. It made the game fun for me especially.”
Prior to joining the Rock, Schwindt spent the 2018-19 campaign with the Wellesley Applejacks, of the PJCHL, but also saw limited action with the Elmira Sugar Kings, of the GOJHL.
“Learning our system was, for sure, the No. 1 challenge,” he said.
“In Junior ‘C’ I had a great time and they treated me nice, but the system package and being on the ice every day here was a challenge but if you want to play high-level hockey, it is something you have got to do.”
Leaving home was also a bit of a challenge for Schwindt.
“Now, since Timmins is a second home for me, I am very excited to be back.”
Like most of his teammates, Schwindt’s normal off-season activities have been somewhat impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I usually go to the gym, but since the gyms were closed I was lucky enough that my uncle actually has a little gym in his basement,” he said.
“So, I have been going there and when I was a kid I set up a place to shoot pucks down in my basement.
“So, I have been doing that stuff and recently was able to get on the ice and it was good but it is definitely a change, for sure, having to wear a mask.”
Pigeon, a 2002-birth-year, left-hand shooting centre, is a native of Gatineau, Que.
Officially listed at 5-9 and 150 pounds, he will bring a combination of speed and skill to the Rock lineup.
Beer sees a lot of similarities between Pigeon’s game and that played by Schwindt in 2019-20.
“We were watching another player at the time and Nic kept popping up as a guy who kept making plays, game-in and game-out in all the video we were watching,” he said.
“We talked to certain guys around that area and they had nothing but rave reviews for him.
“For us to get him, a guy who has been a leader (assistant captain in 2018-19 and captain in 2019-20) on that team, is great.
“He is a high-quality player and he will be coming in at 18, so a little bit more physically mature, so we will get the strength factor out of him.
“I think he is a guy who is going to be a bit of a Swiss Army knife for us.
“He is going to be able to play in different roles and add offence here and there, what do you want to call it, the Schwinny type of role?
“I think that is exactly what we are going to get out of Nic, a guy who can generate good offence at certain points and when his game is struggling offensively, he is still going to be able to find a way to contribute on the penalty kill, take key face-offs, whatever.
“He is a pretty well-rounded player and we were excited when we were able to get him.
“He is the kind of player who can grow, but hopefully have a huge impact in his first year, as well.”
Pigeon and his CIHA Green teammates enjoyed a successful campaign in the HEO U18 in 2019-20.
“We went to the finals last year,” he said.
“We had a pretty great year.”
How would Pigeon describe his game for Rock fans who have not yet had the opportunity to see him play?
“I am a small player and I would say I am fast, but I am mostly a defensive player,” he said.
“I am good at both ends of the ice. I am not really a goal scorer, more of a playmaker.”
Growing up, Pigeon tried to pattern his game after Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher.
“I like the fact he goes into the corners and he gives 100 per cent every game,” he said.
“He tries to win every game and tries to bring his best in order to make the team better.”
The centre made the decision to make the move to the Rock after speaking with former teammate Brendan Boyce, a member of his new team’s blue-line in 2019-20.
“He really liked his time there and said it is a really great organization,” Pigeon said.
“It is a well-coached team and the fan base there is crazy.
“I am really excited to go there. It is almost like an OHL team.”
Like the vast majority of new Rock recruits, Pigeon has never been to Timmins.
“I had heard of it, though,” he said.”
“I know it is a small town, but a busy one … a great community. It is going to be a great experience for me to go there.
“I have heard it is pretty cold there, though.”
On the plus side, however, there is lots of great fishing — winter and summer — which should keep Pigeon happy when he is not on the ice.
Given the forward was a teammate of fellow recruit Cadieux-Fredette last season, who better to offer a scouting report on the D-man.
“He is a big defenceman,” Pigeon said.
“He is not the fastest, but he compensates with his size, his shot and his hockey IQ.
“I would say he is a great leader, too.”
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic ended the 2020 playoffs for CIHA Green, the players at the academy were able to continue working out on and off the ice.
“It was great for my development,” Pigeon said.
“As the virus came, however, we had to leave the school and after I came home I was searching for the first week for a place to try and train and get in shape.
“As a small forward, I need to get bigger for the Junior ‘A’ season. So, I called one of my buddies, whose dad owns a gym. It is a really nice gym, with an indoor synthetic ice rink.
“So, I have been going there every day to train and shoot some pucks, do some legs, do some sprints, to get ready for the season.”
Pigeon knows making the jump to Junior ‘A’ hockey will require some adjustments on his part.
“Probably the speed of the game and the way it is played will be the biggest adjustment,” he said.
“In (Midget) ‘AAA’, as an older guy, you tend to keep the puck a bit longer. So, I will need to pass the puck a bit quicker.
“Obviously, the guys are going to be older and bigger.”
Meanwhile, Cadieux-Fredette, a 2003-birth-year, left-hand shooting blue-liner, hails from Plantagenet, Ont., near Ottawa.
As his penalty total might indicate, Cadieux-Fredette does not shy away from the physical side of the game, despite being officially listed at 5-11 and 176 pounds.
His new coach sees a lot of Boyce in Cadieux-Fredette’s game.
“He is very similar to Boyce in terms of offence,” Beer said.
“I think he is a guy who can jump in the play, can quarterback the power play, if need be.
“I think the toughest thing for him, obviously, is going to be playing defence and being an offensive guy if there are guys ahead of him garnering more minutes.
“How will he adapt his game? I think that will be a big adjustment for Félix but I think he is a smart enough player that he will be able to pick up how to play good defence here and there and still be able to contribute offensively when called upon.
“I think that is a big challenge for young D-men coming in but he is certainly a guy who can jump into the play and can make plays offensively.
“His transition game is very crisp in terms of his outlet passes and stuff.
“We are talking about players who fit a certain type and Félix fits the type of defencemen we are looking for, in terms of his skating ability, his defensive awareness and his offensive prowess.
“He checks all three boxes.
“He is definitely somebody, at a young age, who we will be able to mold into an elite player down the road.”
Cadieux-Fredette focuses on being good on both sides of the puck.
“I am really good defensively,” he said.
“That is probably my strength. Offensively, I can generate things with my shot and my IQ.
“I am really good on PKs and getting the puck to the forwards on the breakouts.
“I like playing physical, too. I am not big but I like to be physical in front of the net and in the corners.”
Coming from a defence-first squad in CIHA Green, Cadieux-Fredette is looking forward to playing for a team like the Rock, that employs a similar philosophy.
“From what I head from Brendan, they have a really good coach and they do a good job teaching their young players,” he said.
Prior to signing with the Rock, Cadieux-Fredette had never been to Timmins.
“I am planning on going there soon, with my family, just to go see what it is like,” he said.
Cadieux-Fredette’s mother, Sonia Cadieux, who works for the University of Ottawa, has actually visited Timmins a number of times, making stops at French schools in the city.
“She told me it is a nice place to live,” he said.
Boyce told Cadieux-Fredette about the Rock’s rabid fan base and he can’t wait to experience it firsthand.
“I have heard the arena is packed for almost every game and he told me it is a good feeling,” he said.
“I have never played in front of so many fans. I played for an international school, so there was like never any fans in the stands. It is going to feel weird to have people behind you.
“I am looking forward to it.”
Like Pigeon, Cadieux-Fredette knows he will have to make some adjustments to his game this season.
“I think the size of the players is going to be the biggest adjustment,” he said.
“I am almost 6-0 and 175-180 pounds, so I am used to being the big guy in Midget.
“This year is going to be different and that is what I am trying to work on this summer. I am lifting weights so it will be easier for me to adapt and stuff.”
Unlike most of his teammates, the COVID-19 pandemic has not had too big of an impact on Cadieux-Fredette’s summer.
“I have a gym at my house where I can train and stuff and I have a trainer from the team back home, the Rockland Nationals, and he trains me,” he said.
“This is the fourth summer I have been training with him and he is really good.
“I am keeping in shape and right now I am playing basketball. I like to play other sports, too, during my spare time.”
So, what kind of scouting report can Cadieux-Fredette offer Rock fans on Pigeon?
“Nic is a really skilled player, who is really fast, and he has really good hands,” he said.
“He gets through Ds pretty easily. That’s what he is good at and he is a good grinder and a good leader.
“He was our captain last year.”
ROCK 2020-21 ROSTER — Goalies (2): Tyler Masternak, Gavin McCarthy; Defence (5): Eric Moreau, Brendan Boyce, Evan Beaudry, Bode Dunford, Félix Cadieux-Fredette; Forwards (6): Derek Seguin, Josh Dickson, Tyler Gilberds, Tyler Schwindt, Henry Brock, Nicholas Pigeon.