A pair of Manitoba Junior Hockey League (MJHL) grads are headed to the mountains as they transition into post-secondary with the Selkirk College Saints.
Blake Sidoni and Tristen Cross spent their final season of junior hockey with the Virden Oil Capitals. With impressive resumes of success at the junior level, the pair will help fuel the Saints at both ends of the ice during the 2019-2020 British Columbia Intercollegiate Hockey League (BCIHL) season.
“These are two players with dynamic skills that will be able to make a quick transition to the BCIHL,” says new Saints head coach Dave Hnatiuk. “Both Tristen and Blake have been part of teams in junior that know what it takes to win in big games, traits that we expect will be an important asset at this level.”
Sidoni grew up in the West Kootenay, playing for both the Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Trail Smoke Eaters prior to heading east to finish his junior career with Virden. The 21-year-old forward started last season with the Smoke Eaters before joining Virden for the last 45 games of the regular season where he scored 15 goals and added 32 assists.
A gritty winger, Sidoni was a member of the 2016-2017 Nitehawks team that won the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) championship, the Cyclone Taylor Cup and came an overtime loss away from capturing the Keystone Cup that determines the top junior B team in Western Canada. When he arrives to the Saints dressing room, Sidoni will be greeted by former Nitehawks’ teammates from that season that include Tallon Kramer, Nolan Percival, Dylan Heppler and Evan Gorman.
“Selkirk College is close to home and I’m looking forward to returning to play for the Saints,” says Sidoni, who grew up in Trail and will be a student in the School of University Arts & Sciences. “I will bring determination and hard work on the ice. I’ve been fortunate to be part of winning teams in the past and want to help the Saints win another championship this season.”
Cross grew up in Virden, a town of 3,200 on the western edge of Manitoba along the Trans-Canada Highway, and played four seasons for his hometown team. A second-team MJHL all-star in the 2018-2019 season, the 20-year-old defenceman scored 15 goals and added 30 assists during his final campaign with Virden.
“My game is a fairly offensive when I get the chance,” says Cross, who will also be a student in the School of University Arts & Sciences. “I love to jump into the rushes and make myself the fourth man in from the back end. I like to play a fairly aggressive game and leave it all out there.”
With a career goal of becoming an environmental engineer, Cross is looking forward to getting his post-secondary start at Selkirk College.
“I chose Selkirk College because it's in a beautiful area with plenty to do and see,” he says. “The school has all the programs that I need to further my career and gives me those important first steps for my education. I’d like to start at Selkirk College and move my way into a university furthering my courses in a year or two.”
Cross and Sidoni join a recruiting class that includes Darian Bamber, Garrett Hilton, Evan Gorman and Jack Karran. The team hits the ice starting in September with the BCIHL 2019-2020 regular season getting started in October.
PHOTO: Defenceman Tristen Cross was named to the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s second team all-star in the 2018-2019 season. The 20-year-old is attending Selkirk College this coming season where he will be a student in the School of University Arts & Sciences.