With the 2021 QMJHL Entry Draft just a few days away, we look back at current players who were selected between the 2nd and 5th rounds. This year the team holds five draft picks in these early rounds, no doubt some exciting new talent will be added to the team with these selections.
Today we feature Jacob Stewart, a 3rd round pick in 2017, #43 overall. The 20-year-old has been with Moncton since his start in the QMJHL, playing in four seasons and over 150 games for the team.
When asked about Stewart’s impact on the team, Director of Hockey Operations, Ritchie Thibeau had this to say. “Jake is a Wildcat through and through. He has been with our program since he was 16-years-old. He always competes and gives it his all, and this season more than ever he provided key leadership to our younger players.”
A few current Wildcats who were also drafted in the middle of the pack are:
Francesco Iasenza – Round 3, #57 overall by Moncton in 2020
Mathis Cloutier – Round 4, 60th overall by Val-d’Or Foreurs in 2019
Nicolas Pavan – Round 4, 64th overall by Moncton in 2019
Anthony Hamel – Round 4, #67th overall by Charlottetown in 2018
Draft Day Journal – Jake Stewart, 2017
You were drafted by the team in 2017 in Saint John. What do you remember/ what were some highlights from that day?
- My parents and I went to Saint John the day before the draft and ended up staying close to the rink. I was pretty nervous the day of the draft since your never 100% sure what team you are going to be going to. Getting drafted was amazing, but sharing that experience with so many friends and teammates whom I had grown up with was pretty awesome. The post draft meal we had with the Wildcats was also a nice highlight…I remember being very hungry after being in the rink for a few hours! I felt fortunate to be joining such a great organization, which was also still very close to home. It was a great day for my family, and a great memory to have.
Being drafted to the same team, the same year as your cousin (Sean Stewart), what was that time like for both of you?
- The whole journey for Sean and I has been amazing. We have been playing together for as long as I can remember. We went through minor hockey/ spring hockey/ U15 / U18 / and even provincial teams together. Being able to play for the Wildcats together was a great time and made the transition a lot easier, I know our grandparents were very happy as well!
Growing up in Antigonish, how did you get started in hockey and what were your early minor hockey days like? How early did you start playing with Sean Stewart and Jacob Hudson?
- My dad was a big part of how I got started in hockey. He had me on the ice when I was very young and I fell in love with the game pretty quick. Sean and I have been on the same team since we were able to play hockey. Since Hudson was a year older, myself and Sean would play with him the first year, then he would move on, and we would join him again as we moved up the age brackets.
Looking back on the past few seasons, what stands out the most?
- My teammates! Over the past four season I’ve had the chance to meet and play with some very good hockey players, and great people. These guys made it fun to come to the rink everyday, and I was also able to learn a lot along the way. We’ve seen some pretty talented players come through this team over the years, and to learn from them and their habits has been fun.
You were part of the move to the Avenir Centre, what has it been like to play in the new building?
- Again, I feel very fortunate. Being here provides us all with the best facility that Major Junior hockey can offer, and we are all lucky to be able to go to the rink everyday to play the game we love. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to play in that rink when it’s sold out, it’s not something you’ll forget quickly and hopefully we can get back to that this season!
After a tough situation last season, and all the difficulties with COVID-19, the team impressed a lot of people. How was this past season from your perspective?
- Even with all the COVID-19 regulations, this past season was so much fun for me. We had an amazing group of guys this year and we tackled every obstacle/ challenge together as a team. We had a lot of fun, but we also loved playing with each other, and I think that showed. It was a unique year, something I won’t forget for a long time and I was happy to do it with the group we had.