Kidd, a seventh round pick of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2007 amateur entry draft, went to Manchester on an amateur tryout late in the 2007-08 season and earned a one-year contract from the Kings last year. But he wasn’t offered a contract for this season. He went to AHL camp with the Manitoba Moose, but was released. Faced with the choice of playing at the ECHL level or returning to school, his agent contacted MacDougall last week. And presto! He’s been here since Monday, has one practice under his belt, and will be in the lineup Friday.
“I think our reputation helped us out in this case,” said MacDougall. “The agent had players who had been here in the past and knew about players who had been here in the past and went to the pro level. He called us.”
MacDougall, who lost three blue chip defencemen from last year’s group in former captain Dustin Friesen, David Bowman and Justin DaCosta, and saw rookie Ben Wright opt for the ECHL Elmira Jackals after a brief stint here, was only too happy to oblige. He believes Kidd “will fit with any of our D.
“I haven’t seen him in a game situation, but from people we talk to in the OHL, he skates very well for a big lad,” said MacDougall. “He brings a big physical presence. He shoots the puck very well, so I think we can develop the offensive part of his game as well. It’s a good opportunity for him here. Our defence is going to be very young, but he’s going to be part of it.”
Kidd, a native of Sundridge, Ont. had been to Kings’ training camps with Reds rookie Matt Fillier, and played midget hockey with Ben Shutron, another rookie on the UNB blueline.
MacDougall is confident he’ll be able to catch up academically despite missing the first month of classes.
“I think he’ll be able to make the adjustment to the academics and proceed forward,” said MacDougall. Winger Jeff Lee, meanwhile, is practising with the team, but “he has to finalize a few courses to be eligible,” said MacDougall, and so won’t be available to play until later in the first term or perhaps early in the second, said MacDougall.
“He’s got some academic work to catch up on. He’s in a situation where he left part way through the year in the NCAA when he went back to the Western League, and he’s got complete some of those courses. It’s a short term disappointment, but I think he’s going to be a great long term addition to our club.”
The V-Reds hosted a reception for alumni and supporters to meet the team last night at the Colter Room and awarded the Ross “Punchy” Walker scholarships to veterans Hunter Tremblay, Luke Gallant and Kyle Bailey.
MacDougall earned a prestigious award of his own recently, named a winner of the 2009 Paul Harris Fellowship, as awarded by Rotary Clubs International. The award is given by Rotary International to salute “outstanding service to community.”
MacDougall’s teams have won two CIS gold and two silver medals in his nine years at the helm. The award will be presented at a formal dinner at the Fredericton Inn on Wednesday, Oct. 14. Tickets are $40 each and can be reserved by contacting Shyanne Keith in the athletics department office at 453-5001.
While MacDougall takes his team to Providence to face the Friars Friday, the St. Thomas Tommies hook up with the Dalhousie Tigers in their final preseason tilt at 7 p.m. at the Lady Beaverbrook Rink.
Both teams start the regular season Atlantic University Sport Men’s Hockey Conference schedule a week from Friday, Oct. 16. The V-Reds are home to the University of Prince Edward Island Panthers for the raising of their CIS championship banner at 7 p.m. that night while the Tommies are in Moncton to face the Universite de Moncton Aigles Bleus.