Grizzlies Move Harpur, MacDonald to Cowichan Capitals

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From Cowichan Capitals with files from Christian J. Stewart (ISN)

May 20, 2015, Duncan, BC – The Cowichan Capitals have acquired forward Ayden MacDonald and defenceman Chris Harpur from the Victoria Grizzlies. The transaction completes an earlier trade which saw forward Thomas Gobeil head to Victoria in exchange for future considerations.

Ayden MacDonald’s size and strength were key assets to the Grizzlies last season and will be missed moving forward (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

Hailing from Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, the 1996-born Harpur just completed his rookie season with the Grizzlies with two goals and 13 assists in 56 regular season games adding a goal and an assist in Victoria’s first round playoff series with Powell River. At 6’3″ and 195 pounds, the soon-to-be 19 year-old adds some significant size and scoring ability to the Capitals’ blue line.

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Thomas Gobeil was a key pick-up for the Grizzlies at the end of last season, but now the team is paying the price, losing two highly touted prospects in Harpur and MacDonald (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

“Chris is a big, mobile, physical puck-moving defenceman that we think is one of the very best defenders in the BCHL,” said Capitals Head Coach and General Manager, Bob Beatty.

Also born in 1996 and coming off his rookie BCHL season, MacDonald is a Langley, BC native who at 6’3″ and 200 pounds adds a little bit of everything to the Capitals’ forward group. “Ayden is a solid physical force that finished his rookie season putting up good numbers offensively,” said Beatty. “He also put up an impressive amount of points the previous season for the Richmond Sockeyes in the PJHL. He has an excellent skill set for a big man and is a solid penalty killer.”

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Chris Harpur was a standout on the blueline for the Grizzlies in 2014-2015 and should help the Capitals immensely next season (Photo: Christian J. Stewart / ISN)

MacDonald finished his rookie campaign with five goals and eight assists for 13 points in 50 regular season games. A very impressive playoff series saw him score three goals while adding an assist in five games. Including the playoffs, MacDonald finished his rookie campaign with nine points in his final 11 games.

“We are extremely pleased to add the size, skill, and physical presence that Chris and Ayden bring to our team,” added Beatty.

The moves come as a bit of a surprise to Grizzlies fans and could be a steep price to pay for acquiring Gobeil.  Both MacDonald and Harpur were highly touted and were looking to be integral parts of the Grizzlies 2015-2016 campaign, that is, assuming one exists.  The team is currently embroiled in a lease renewal issue for The Q Centre with Westshore Parks and Recreation and rumours abounded last week that the team was going to fold if a suitable arrangement could not be made.  A big sticking point was a proposed $36,000 increase in rental fees, which given the financial status of the team over the past few years, would be, pardon the pun, the straw that breaks the Grizzlies back.

If that comes to pass, at least Harpur and MacDonald will have a place to continue what should be successful BCHL careers.

OTHER NOTES:  The Grizzlies also announced that forward Shawn McBride has committed to American International College for the 2015-2016 season.  Also of note, forward Brett Gruber was selected second overall in the USHL draft by Green Bay.  No word yet on whether Gruber will move to the USHL or stay here with the Grizzlies.  

Christian J. Stewart
Christian is a professional photographer and media professional based in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Currently working as the Assistant General Manager for Victoria HarbourCats Baseball Club, a Senior Contributing Editor and photographer at Independent Sports News (ISN) and operating his own freelance photography and media/pr company.