By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
Another member of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team, 20-year-old Matthieu Gomercic is joining the UOIT Ridgebacks men’s hockey team for the upcoming season.
Gomercic, a 6’3 forward, joins Bryce Fiske, another member of the Broncos team who signed with the Ridgebacks in June. Both Gomercic and Fiske were among the 13 people who survived the horrific crash in Saskatchewan earlier this year when the bus carrying their junior hockey team collided with a semi-trailer truck at a rural intersection. The crash claimed the lives of 16 people.
For Ridgebacks head coach Curtis Hodgins, he says he made several trips to Saskatchewan earlier this year to view both Gomercic and Fiske in action, and he’s excited to have them both committed to the university team.
“Both of these guys are character guys,” he says. “I think they’re great guys to build around and they’ll fit in nicely with our program.”
Gomercic spent the last two seasons playing for Humboldt where he managed 47 points over 96 regular season games, also amassing 89 penalty minutes. His strength at both ends of the ice is something that attracted Hodgins to signing the young player.
“He plays well along the walls and does all the little things, and I like those players,” he says.
“I’m very excited to join the Ridgebacks this upcoming season,” says Gomercic. “Playing university hockey is a goal that I set for myself and UOIT is now giving me the opportunity to fulfill both my hockey and academic goals.”
Looking at Fiske, Hodgins says the diverse play of the right-handed defenceman will fit well on the Ridgebacks’ blueline for the upcoming season.
“He has a little bit of everything in his game, which will fit nicely,” he says.
A native of La Ronge, Sask., Fiske was traded to the Broncos from his hometown La Ronge Ice Wolves in October. In 41 regular season games with Humboldt he tallied six goals and 22 assists before adding two goals and two assists in the postseason.
“I’m excited, obviously, it’s been my goal (playing university hockey) since day one of training camp when I was 17 and like I said – I’m excited. It was my goal and I’m excited to see where the future takes me,” said Fiske in a news release announcing his signing. “I grew up in a small town and started my career in La Ronge, my hometown and later traded to Humboldt this year, which are two small junior hockey towns. When I flew in yesterday it was a bit of a shock, but I’ll adjust and I’m excited and happy to be here.”
Ahead of signing the two players, Hodgins made several trips to the Saskatchewan to see the players for himself. And while Gomercic was dealing with injuries on both of his visits, Hodgins says they were still valuable opportunities.
With that said, the news of the bus crash in April came as a real shock.
“I’d really gotten to know their head coach over the last six months, a lot of dealings with him, and I’d been out two weeks prior to the accident and met with three of the players. It was really shocking to see it all unfold and really just an unfathomable tragedy,” he says.
Now entering his third full season with the team, Hodgins is building off a season that saw the Ridgebacks eliminated in the first round of the OUA playoffs, but post one of the best records in program history with 21 wins.
Training camp for the team opens in September.