By Thomas Perry, The Daily Press (Timmins)
TIMMINS – Spencer Segui got into six games at the end of the 2015-16 NOJHL season and all six of the Timmins Rock’s playoff contests.
Coach and general manager Paul Gagne and his staff liked what they saw from the 20-year-old North Haven, CT, native during that brief audition and he will be back on the team’s blue-line when training camp opens in late August.
Segui (6, 0-2-2, 0), a right-handed shooting D-man, will join fellow returnees Nick Hautanen and Jared Hester on the Timmins defence for the 2016-17 campaign.
“He has a lot of skills and he is a great passer,” Gagne said.
“He moves the puck really well, but he also has the ability to hold onto it and get out of jams once in a while because of his skills.
“He is such a good skater and that’s one of the things that makes him special. He sees the play and he is good with his stick.
“He moves really well laterally and he is going to get a great opportunity with us this year.”
Those skills earned Segui a little bit of power-play time during his end-of-season audition with the Rock.
“There is a possibility for us to use him on the power-play this year, as well, because he is a right-handed shot,” Gagne said.
“He has a great wrist shot and it’s always accurate. He keeps it about a foot off the ice and that is one of the things we were impressed with last season.”
Segui is currently the only right-handed shooting defenceman on the Rock roster following the departure of Ryan Kerr, Kealey Cummings and Joe Olson — all of whom finished up their Junior ‘A’ careers in Timmins last season.
“I kind of like that idea of having a right-handed shooting defenceman playing with a left-handed shooting defenceman,” Gagne said.
“It certainly makes a big difference when you are trying to move the puck in the neutral zone and you want to play a quick transition game.”
Prior to joining the Rock, Segui spent part of the 2015-16 season with the Campbellton Tigers (8, 0-0-0, 2), of the MJAHL, and the Northern Cyclones (13, 1-1-2, 8), of the EHL.
At 5-10 and 176-pounds, Segui is not the biggest blue-liner in the NOJHL, but that doesn’t stop him from taking the man.
“At the end of the season and in the playoffs, he was starting to play a little bit more physical,” Gagne said.
“He hit a couple of big guys last season and he came out on top because he is such a well-balanced player.”
Even more impressive to the coaching staff was Segui’s ability to play physical without taking unnecessary penalties.
“We never ask our players to go out there and kill anybody,” Gagne said.
“We just want them to finish their checks and obtain the puck. Having him play disciplined like that is certainly an asset.”
As a 20-year-old, the Rock will be counting on Segui to bring some maturity and leadership to the club’s blue-line corps.
“He is going to come in and understand what we want,” Gagne said.
“I know I have said this before, but it helps when you have a kid coming in who understands the program and what we want him to do out there on the ice.
“Coming into camp, he should be more confident and in a positive state of mind.
“He won’t be out there trying to figure out how things are run. He will know our philosophy and our program.”
With the return of Segui, the Rock currently have eight players — goalie Matthew Nixon, Segui, Hautanen and Hester on the blue-line, as well as Jordan Rendle, Bain Cunningham and Wayne Mathieu up front — committed to return for the 2016-17 season.
That number is expected to increase prior to the start of the Rock tryout camp, which runs from Aug. 2-5 at the McIntyre Arena.
“We are starting to get a few kids from the local area who are registering for camp and we are definitely getting some interest from out-of-town, as well,” Gagne said.
“We are hoping to have a maximum of 20 to 25 kids out for the camp. That would be good.”
In an ideal world, somewhere between five and 10 of those kids would then advance to the main Rock training camp later in August.
“Most of our veterans won’t be here for the tryout camp,” Gagne said.
“They won’t be arriving until the start of the main camp on Aug. 22.”
ROCK NOTES — The date for the inaugural Timmins Rock Golf Tournament at Spruce Needles Golf Club has been switched to Thursday, Aug. 18. Visit http://timminsrock.com/golf-tournament for more information … The Rock are looking for billet families for the 2016-17 season. Anyone interested in getting more information should email firstname.lastname@example.org … Season tickets and Legacy Memberships for the upcoming season can be purchased by visiting http://timminsrock.com/tickets … It is expected the 2016-17 NOJHL schedule will be released on Friday.