The Belleville Bulls sent a pair of skaters to the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Kelowna, though it could have been more if not for the bite of the injury bug.
Forward Brendan Gaunce, from Markham, Ontario, arrived in Kelowna along with teammate Daniil Zharkov. Bulls goaltender Malcolm Subban had been invited, but was replaced due to a groin injury suffered in practice back in December.
Gaunce, whose older brother Cameron was selected by the Colorado Avalanche at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and currently skates with the Lake Erie Monsters of the American Hockey League, leads the Bulls in scoring this season with 22 goals and 23 assists in 47 games.
Gaunce, who checks in at 6’2 and 212 pounds, calls Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks his favourite player. A hard working two-way center, Gaunce is becoming a well-spoken leader in Belleville who will celebrate his 18th birthday on March 25. Last season, he was the Bulls nominee for the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year award.
Featured by HF early in January, Gaunce appears poised to join his brother in professional hockey. They both came up in the ranks as members of the Markham Waxers program. Given his size, it should come as no surprise that Brendan was named to the York Region high school football All-Star Team in 2012. However, with pro hockey aspirations, one would think his days on the gridiron are probably numbered.
HF spoke with Gaunce in Kelowna on opening night, shortly after the players arrived for the Top Prospects Game.