After the graduation of six players from last year’s team, head coach Greg Gatto has his work cut out for him to fill the gaps left behind but is excited to add three quality Western Hockey League graduates.
With the departure of five-year starting goalie and 2009-10 second team Canada West All-Star Scott Bowles, goaltending was a high priority in Gatto’s recruiting this off-season and with the commitment of Lethbridge Hurricane Damien Ketlo he believes that he picked up one of the best graduating goalies from the WHL.
“Damien is a guy to take over the number one position,” said Gatto. “He was the Hurricane’s MVP last season and he wants to be part of our program.”
“He gives us a bigger goaltender, who plays the puck well and it’s his job to lose.”
Ketlo, 6-foot Fort Fraser, BC native, played four seasons in the WHL and made 160 appearances over his career with the Regina Pats and the Hurricanes. This past season, his only one with the Hurricanes, Ketlo made 47 appearances, while sporting a 3.60 goals-against-average and a solid 0.902 save percentage. His was also credited with all but nine of the Hurricanes wins during his 20-year old season.
At the end of his season, Ketlo joined the Colorado Eagles of the ECHL, making 3 appearances, including a shutout victory in his pro debut.
Joining Ketlo, in the first group of recruits is a pair of defensemen and former teammates in Hayden Rintoul and Cason Machacek. Rintoul and Machacek played parts of two seasons together with the Kootenay Ice.
Lethbridge product Cason Machacek returns home to suit up for the Pronghorns next season after finishing his junior career with the Seattle Thunderbirds. Prior to being traded to Seattle, Machacek played parts of two seasons with his hometown Hurricanes and began his WHL career with the Ice.
The physical stay-at-home defenseman suited up in 245 career WHL games in four seasons, accumulating 6 goals and 22 assists, while amassing 536 penalty minutes.
“Cason gives us a hometown boy who wants to come back and make our program better,” said Gatto. “We needed a physical defenseman and that’s exactly what Cason is and he has more upside than a lot of people give him credit for.”
Rintoul, in addition to playing with the Ice, finished his WHL career with the Victoria Royals where he served as the team captain and set career highs this season in goals and points with 17 and 51 respectively.
In 260 career games, Rintoul amassed 36 goals and 108 assists and won a WHL Championship in 2011 with Ice.
“Hayden is an offensive minded defenseman and gives us that puck moving defenseman that are some important in today’s game,” stated Gatto. “He won a WHL championship and was a captain, which are always qualities we like to add to our dressing room.”
Head Coach Greg Gatto hopes to add to his recruiting class in the coming weeks and the ‘Horns will open training camp September 4th.
(From the University of Lethbridge Pronghorns)