Griffins add to solid recruiting class with Dragons captain, former Oil King

Drumheller Dragons captain Andrew Kartusch, left, and Battlefords' Garan Magnes, who previously played for the Edmonton Oil Kings, are joining the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey program (Photos courtesy Drumheller Dragons and Battlefords North Stars).
Drumheller Dragons captain Andrew Kartusch, left, and Battlefords' Garan Magnes, who previously played for the Edmonton Oil Kings, are joining the MacEwan Griffins men's hockey program (Photos courtesy Drumheller Dragons and Battlefords North Stars).

Jefferson Hagen / MacEwan Athletics

EDMONTON – Leadership, reliability and versatility are all attributes that successful hockey teams can never have enough of.

The two-time defending Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men's hockey champion MacEwan Griffins added two more players on Friday that exhibit those characteristics successful programs have.

Head coach Michael Ringrose announced that Andrew Kartusch – who captained the AJHL's Drumheller Dragons last season – and Garan Magnes – who previously played locally for the WHL's Edmonton Oil Kings and AJHL's Spruce Grove Saints before finishing his junior career with the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars – will join the Griffins for the 2018-19 ACAC season.

"When you're a captain, you understand how important it is to include everyone and have a cohesive group in the dressing room," said Ringrose of a growing Griffins tradition to recruit Junior A leaders into the fold. "To me, the more guys who have been in those leadership positions that you can recruit on your roster, the better you're going to be for it.

"This is a team that leads by committee. If you look at our team last year we had five guys who wore letters, but you could go through the dressing room and the leadership that, to a man, they displayed was impressive down the stretch and, in my opinion, was a big reason why we won."

Kartusch is a bruising 6-foot-2, 195 lb. right shot defenceman who found his scoring touch with the Dragons in his final season, netting 13 goals and 42 points in 57 games, while adding a gritty 102 penalty minutes. The Red Deer product added six points in 10 playoff games for the Dragons.

"Hard to play against - that's the biggest thing," said Ringrose, who, as the former head coach of the Spruce Grove Saints, had to go against Kartusch on a regular basis. "He can play a heavy game. He plays an in-your-face game, but he also has some offensive skills that makes him effective. He's very good at stepping up and snapping pucks through on the offensive blueline, makes a very good first pass out of the zone.

"He's another guy who can come in and play in any situation. These are the type of guys that we try to build our roster with. We've shown in the past that we win with depth. He's another guy who's going to be able to step in and make our team stronger."

Magnes, meanwhile, was on Ringrose's side when he coached the Saints in 2016-17, but the Griffins bench boss has known the Edmonton product dating back to his days with Vimy Ridge Academy. Initially, Magnes went to the WHL, playing 62 games for the Edmonton Oil Kings from 2014-16 and another 18 contests with the Seattle Thunderbirds.

But Ringrose stayed in touch and when Magnes was 19, he returned home to play Junior A for his Saints (recording 19 goals and 35 points in 53 games) before being traded midway through the 2017-18 campaign to the SJHL's Battlefords North Stars. He finished his junior career with 15 points in 18 games, netting another two goals in 10 playoff games.

"Very similar story to Tyler (Morrison's)," said Ringrose of the current Griffins defenceman who logged 208 WHL games before finishing his junior career in the AJHL. "Garan was a dominant player in Junior A as a 19 and 20 year old and is poised to be an impact player now at this level."

The versatility the 6-foot, 205-pound Magnes brings is key as he can play both forward and defence.

"He can play up the middle, on the wall or on the back end and has a world-class level shot," said Ringrose. "He can beat a goalie clean from the blueline and can play the top on the powerplay. By the same token, a lot like Andrew, he's big and strong and can play a heavy game if he needs to, and stand up to the rigors of a playoff series that goes three games in three days."

Kartusch and Magnes join a solid, growing Griffins' 2018 recruiting class that includes former Camrose Kodiaks Ryan Hartman and Nic Correale, introduced earlier this month.