‘Down on the farm’ is a bi-weekly feature series on Oil Caps prospects. Next up in this series: Hunter Andrew. Enjoy.
By: Lanny Stewart
For Virden product Hunter Andrew, the love for the game started at an early age while watching the Canadian hockey tradition on Saturday nights.
“We always watched Hockey Night in Canada as kids,” said the 16-year-old Oil Caps prospect.
That passion for hockey continued to grow as he worked his way up the minor hockey ranks, eventually joining the Southwest Cougars AAA midget program, following in his older brother Tanner’s footsteps. Last season, the two brothers got to play with the Cougars for most of the year and Hunter is hoping he’ll join Tanner once again with the Oil Caps in the not-too-distant future.
“It was a great experience that I’ll always remember,” Hunter said.
The duo even got to play on the same forward line last season, helping the Cougars reach the postseason.
“It was super cool and exciting,” said Tanner, who is enjoying a solid rookie season with the Oil Caps this year. “I’m hoping we can do that again in the future.”
First things first however as Hunter – a 2017 Oil Caps auto-protect who is in his second full season with the AAA Cougars – looks to continue a development path that has Jamie Hodson, director of business and hockey operations for the Oil Capitals, excited for what’s to come.
“He really blossomed this year coming into camp,” Hodson said. “Probably out of all the guys, he’d be one of the most improved. He’s shown a real offensive side to his game as well. He’s not just a north-south kind of player, which is great, and you want that, but he’s also showing a knack for the net.”
Hodson calls Andrew a versatile forward – and for good reason. The forward spent time as a blueliner in his first year of bantam hockey.
“He’s got a good hockey IQ,” Hodson added. “He’s got a lot of developed tools that certainly could lead him to being a very good hockey player at this level.”
Troy Leslie, Oil Caps head coach and GM, says it’s clear Andrew has worked hard at his craft.
“He has a good frame, good speed and shoots the puck well. I feel he has the chance to become a very effective power forward in our league.”
Listed at 6-feet and 165 pounds, Andrew is showcasing that effectiveness with the Cougars this season as he’s currently sitting in third in team scoring with three goals and 12 points in 14 games thus far (as of Nov. 11).
“Hunter is a very important player for our club,” said Dennis McNish, head coach of the AAA Cougars. “He is very tough to defend one-on-one, has a great shot and is dangerous around the net. He plays in all situations for us and can play the wall or up the middle.”
A ’really unique’ prospect
Tyson Ramsey, Oil Caps assistant coach, saw first-hand Andrew’s progression on the ice last season while behind the bench of the AAA Wheat Kings during battles with the Cougars. Ramsey was quick to point out Andrew’s unique playing style in that he brings so much to the table night in and night out.
“He has skill and has the ability to put up points but can also play a grinding in-your-face type of game and he can be really tough to play against for opposing players,” Ramsey said. “We’re really excited to see how he develops on a real good team in Southwest and we look forward to seeing him at camp in the spring and next fall.”
A scout’s take
“Hunter is one of those guys where we’re thankful to have him in the fold,” said Brian Elder, Oil Caps scout. “I was coaching him when he was in Bantam AAA and just where he was and where he is now, we could see all the tools. He’s a big body and everything he does is very smooth. He has a nice, hard shot and he thinks the game well. The other big part that we really try and focus on is his character. Him and his brother have always been character individuals.”
‘He’s a pretty easy-going kid’
Hodson describes Andrew off the ice as a player who is well-liked by his friends and teammates.
“He comes from a great family with the Andrew and Murphy family bloodlines. I think that means a lot to this team and to this community. We know we’re getting a good kid and we look forward to the day he’s hopefully in our lineup.”
What he enjoys away from the rink
When he’s not playing hockey, Andrew looks forward to an annual family skiing trip to Fernie, B.C.
“It’s just a trip that my whole family looks forward too every year and I have some great memories of skiing with buddies and family there.”