TIMMINS - The Timmins Rock have added two more pieces to the puzzle that will become their roster for the 2015-16 NOJHL season.
Rock coach and general manager Paul Gagne has confirmed the squad has signed defenceman Andrew Castagna and forward/defenceman Ravinder Shokar.
Castagna (41, 1-16-17, 14) is a 19-year-old “smooth-skating” blue-liner who comes to the Rock from the Ridge Meadow Flames, of the PJHL.
At 5-11, 161 pounds, the North Vancouver, B.C., native is a fraction of the size of Rock defenceman Joe Olson, a teammate of Castagna with the Flames at the start of the 2014-15 season.
“We are expecting Andrew to be in our Top 3 or Top 4 defencemen this year,” Gagne said.
“He moves the puck really well and, from what I am told, he is one of the best skaters around.
“He is an agile defenceman and he knows how to move out there. He is a heads-up player. He plays the game like a true defenceman.
“He is not the most physical guy, but he always has a presence on the ice and he is always in position.
“I expect he will be playing on our PK (penalty kill) and our power play.
Like the other players the Rock have committed to for the 2015-16 campaign, Castagna has a lot of character.
“He is a well-brought-up kid,” Gagne said.
“He comes from a good family, which is very important at all times.”
Olson enjoyed his first season with the franchise (playing out of the Jus Jordan Arena in Iroquois Falls as the Abitibi Eskimos), a fact that has made Castagna eager to suit up with Timmins.
“Joe and Andrew know each other,” Gagne said.
“They are good friends and I think Andrew is going to be a great acquisition for us.”
Shokar (33, 2-4-6, 26) is a 19-year-old forward who comes to the Rock by way of the Port Moody Panthers, also of the PJHL.
At 6-3, 170 pounds, the Surrey, B.C., is expected to bring size to the Timmins lineup.
“Ravinder is a big kid,” Gagne said.
“We are looking at him to be a second- or third-line player here and he can also play defence.
“He will generate a lot of energy.
“Being that size, his skating looks awkward but you know what, he gets there.
Despite having such a big body, he knows how to get to the right position and he has good reach with his stick.
“He will play physical, if he has to. He is one of those guys that you don’t want to wake up, because if he wakes up, he will turn into a beast.
“He is eager to come and play for us, also. I am looking forward to seeing him on the ice in August.
With the addition of Castagna and Shokar, the Rock now have eight players on their roster.
Logan Ferrington (928:10, 10-6-0, 0, 3.56, .914), the team’s No. 1 goalie during the 2014-15 campaign will be back between the pipes.
Olson (14, 4-8-12, 6) and Castagna will be joined on the blue-line by Kealey Cummings (49, 4-11-15, 30), who is back for his fifth NOJHL season with the franchise.
Up front, in addition to Shokar, the Rock have signed veterans Kyle Levis (43, 8-9-17, 49) and Tristan Salesse (33, 15-30-45, 23), as well as newcomer Cole Gilligan (Blind River Beavers 4, 0-0-0, 0; Mattawa Blackhawks 7, 1-0-1, 0).
The Rock will take to the ice at the McIntyre Arena for their fall tryout camp on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and then open their main training camp on Monday, Aug. 17.
The Rock will play four exhibition games in preparation for the 2015-16 season.
They will travel to Kirkland Lake for a game against the Gold Miners on Friday, Aug. 21, starting at 7:30 p.m., and will then return to Timmins to host the Dudley Hewitt Cup hosts at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday, Aug. 22, also starting at 7:30 p.m.
Then on Friday, Aug. 28, the Rock will host the Rayside-Balfour Canadians at the McIntyre Arena, starting at 7:30 p.m., before travelling to Rayside-Balfour for a return engagement on Saturday, Aug. 29, starting at 7:15 p.m.
The Rock will open the 2015-16 NOJHL regular season at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex in Kirkland Lake on Friday, Sept. 11, before playing their home opener at the McIntyre Arena on Saturday, Sept. 12.