St. Stephen Aces Jr. A Hockey Club

Aces opt for variety at draft table

Griffin-Hefford traded to Amherst, Aces land goalie from Woodstock

 MIRAMICHI – The St. Stephen Aces added eight draft picks to the system at the Maritime Hockey League draft in Miramichi on Saturday and the team made two major trades, including sending last season’s leading scorer, Brady Griffin-Hefford, to the Amherst Ramblers.

In exchange for Griffin-Hefford, St. Stephen got F Ryan MacDonald, a 2nd round pick and future considerations.

“We are very happy to have Ryan MacDonald coming to the Aces. He will be a fan favourite right away and will be able to step in and fill that hole,” said Head Coach and General Manager Josh Hepditch.

Hepditch said Griffin-Hefford asked for a trade for school purposes.

“This was a tough one for us in the sense we really liked Brady,” said Hepditch. “Obviously he was a very good player for us but Brady requested a trade for school purposes and we helped him with that. We are committed to kids and education and we didn’t want to hold him back from that.”

In another trade, the Aces sent Nick Hodd and a 4th round pick to Woodstock for goaltender Jack Grant.

“We are really happy to have Jack with the Aces. We feel Jack has a huge upside and will grow to be one of the top goalies in this league,” Hepditch said. “He is a great person off the ice – the type of young man we strive to have in St. Stephen. He has hopes of playing in the NCAA and we hope to help him pursue that and achieve that goal.”

Hepditch feels that Grant and returning goaltender Levi Denny, give the Aces a solid tandem.

“I think with Levi and Jack next year we will have one of the best goalie combinations in the league. They are both competitors and hungry to succeed.”


Hepditch said the organization feels positive about the draft day activity and the roster.

“We are really happy with the draft. We got a very good mix of players and are excited to see them all in August,” he said.

The Aces made a major step last season when the third-year franchise made the playoffs for the first time. Hepditch said the team has loftier goals entering 2017-2018.

“We want to build on what we accomplished last year and feel we added some players to do that. With such a good core of players returning there’s going to be competition for spots come August.”

Hepditch said draft day is critical to long-term success and he said the organization was well prepared and executed well on Saturday.

“In order to have success in this league you need to draft well, all of our picks come highly recommended and I think the future in St. Stephen is bright.”

Here are the St. Stephen Aces 2017 draft picks with assessments from Hepditch:

1st pick – 5th overall – Evan Gallant

Evan is a true leader. He was drafted to Charlottetown of the QMJHL and will have an opportunity to play there. He is a heart and soul player who plays hard on both sides of the puck. He has a great compete level and will be a great addition if he is with us next year.


1st round – 6th overall – Aiden Fillmore

Aiden is a big power forward. He affiliated with Woodstock last year and his presence was felt every time he was on the ice. His family also just moved to St. Stephen so we are really excited to have him with us and look forward to seeing him progress over the years.


2nd Round – 17th overall – Aiden Macintosh

Aiden was a draft pick of the Saint John Sea Dogs this year and had a really good year last year in midget. He played with Moncton last year and went to the midget Atlantics and he was a big part of that team. He has a great shot and has proven he can score at every level he has played.


2nd round – 20th overall – Kyle Robinson

Kyle had a great year last year in Western Newfoundland. He is a very good skating defensemen with a high hockey IQ. We had really good reports on Kyle and really look forward to seeing him in camp.


2nd round – 1st territorial – Cole Fraser

Cole is a big body forward who has a major upside. He was a draft pick of Blaineville this year and has potential to play at that level. I had the opportunity to coach him at the U-16 and really liked his game. He has the ability to be a great player in this league.


3rd round – 2nd territorial – Connor MacGregor

Connor is a very offensive power forward. He is a kid who plays with an edge and can score. He has a great offensive upside and will bring big things to our team.


5th round – 59th overall – Ashton Paul

Ashton is a very skilled player. I coached him in the National Aboriginal Championship and he played very well. He is one of the shiftiest players I have seen. He is a kid who wants to learn and always improve. He has the ability to be a good offensive player in this league.


6th round – 65th overall – Zach LeBlanc

Zach is a very good young goalie. He is very competitive and a great kid. He has very good feet and plays the puck well as a goalie. We’re really happy to have him with us and look forward to seeing him progress over the next few years.