Local university hockey players earn first pro contracts

Austin Saint (left) and Jacob Paquette (right)

As their respective seasons came to an end in recent weeks, some of the top players on Queen’s University and RMC Kingston have inked their first pro deals.

Since last weekend, 4 Kingston based players signed contracts with teams in the ECHL, a professional league that is essentially two levels below the NHL.

RMC’s leading scorer Austin Saint and Queen’s forward Jonathan Yantsis both signed with the Greenville Swamp Rabbits, while defenceman Jakob Brahaney and Jacob Paquette signed deals with the Kansas City Mavericks and Trois-Rivières Lions respectively.

Jacob Paquette said it’s exciting to start a new chapter in his hockey career although it’s disappointing to have to leave his teammates at Queen’s, and he’ll always look back fondly on memories like the Carr-Harris cup and playing for the U-Sports All Stars against Team Canada’s World Junior team.

Paquette’s time at Queen’s was his second stop in Kingston, after previously spending part of his OHL career with the Frontenacs.

He says he’s come to look at Kingston as a second home and his connection with Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson helped sell him.

“I moved here when I was 16, played for three and a half years,” Paquette said

“Then when I went away and it was time to decide for a school, I really didn’t have many school in my Queen’s is always one I wanted to go… I just really love Kingston”

Jakob Brahaney also spent time with the Frontenacs, with all 5 of his OHL seasons spent in Kingston.

Queen’s head coach Brett Gibson praised all three outgoing Gales in releases from the team, and both teams gave thanks and best wishes to their players signing deals.

Of the players signed, only Paquette has yet to debut for his new team, and former RMC Paladin Austin Saint has gotten off to a hot start scoring 4 points in 5 games.

The contracts signed with their ECHL clubs last for the remainder of the 2023-24 season.