An interesting training camp battle will have Kurtis Mucha and Linden Rowat trying to lock down the starting goaltender position, an area that hasn’t had a bona fide starter during conference play since Aaron Sorochan left at the end of the 2008-09 season. Alberta split crease time last season between CIS rookie Travis Yonkman and sophomore back-up Real Cyr, but with neither goalie expected to return, head coach Eric Thurston secured commitments from two more WHL-experienced netminders.
Mucha (Sherwood Park, AB) played in the WHL between 2004 and 2010, with stops in Kamloops and Portland. Last season, he became the all-time leader in minutes played (13,708), finishing his WHL career with a 76-134-17 record, an .893 save percentage and a 3.55 goals-against average.
Rowat (Cochrane, AB) played five WHL seasons, including four with the Regina Pats, and recorded a 92-80-25 portfolio while sporting an .899 save percentage and a 3.01 GAA.
Craige is joined on the Golden Bear blueline by two other CIS rookies, Jarrett Toll and Drew Nichol.
Craige (Edmonton, AB) played four seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and Chilliwack Bruins, and put up a single-season personal best of 37 points last season. Toll (Maple Ridge, BC) played five seasons with the Tri-City Americans, recording 55 points over the last two seasons, while also banking at least 40 minutes in penalties in every year. Nichol (Edmonton, AB) played for three years with the Edmonton Oil Kings, racking up 326 penalty minutes.
The three defencemen try to crack into a group that already includes two-time reigning Canada West defenseman of the year Kyle Fecho, who led the conference in scoring last season. Jason Fransoo, Ian Barteaux, and Colin Joe are offensive defensemen and regular starters. Mark Ashton and Reade Wolansky were also starters last season, with Wolansky finishing second in conference defensemen scoring. The Golden Bears will also see Ben Lindemulder join the fold for this season after the Edmonton blueliner sat out all of the 2009-10 season after transferring from Northern Michigan University.
The U of A recruitment list at forward includes Meropoulis, Johnny Lazo (Tri-City), Alex Rodgers (Kamloops, Vancouver, Prince George), Zack Dailey (Everett), Mitch Czibere (Vancouver, Regina) and Lindsay Nielsen (Seattle).