Generals bolster Roc City Connection with trade ahead of training camp

When you think of August, for those not lucky enough to understand the value of this time in the junior hockey landscape, you do not instivively think trade

For the Northeast Generals, they lost a player that they developed. Payton Felix is heading to the Corpus Christi IceRays. The veteran forward has one final season to make an impact and earn a scholarship and a spot at the Division One level. The speed and jam he brings wherever he goes will be what any team who offers him a spot most likely sees on the ice first.

As Head Coach Bryan Erikson said of the trade on Felix’s departure, keeping in mind that the team has a plethora of returning forwards, and players in the USHL that could come back to Attleboro projected a bit ahead of him “This is a tough trade to make. Payton has been with our organization for 2 full years. 1 year with our U18 team and 1 year with our NA3 team. He is a fantastic kid that works extremely hard both on and off the ice. His motor is amazing and speed is elite. As an 01 Forward he had a few wings in front of him and I think the trade to Corpus will help him get some more ice time and bring a veteran presence to the Ice Rays.”

When you look at the success the NA3HL Generals had in getting to their league’s final four, the Fraser Cup, Felix was an instrumental part in that, putting up 51 points in 40 games in the regular season, then four points in eight playoff games. He will provide speed and leadership to an IceRays group needing it in their first season back on the ice in two years. Erikson and General Manager Matt Dibble proved that their loyalty, as it has been, remains in giving their players the best chance to find a college home. For some players, that best chance does not present itself in Attleboro.

With that loyalty, the Generals get back two players they know well through Dibble. As Erikson says of one of their acquisitions ” As for what we are getting back CJ Zezima is a kid that has played Roc City for a few years that we are very familiar with. He played for our friend Ryan Cruthers with the Charlotte Rush and was a dominant player for them. We expect him to make a huge impact on Day 1 with us.”

Dibble added ” Zez is a player who I would have considered as in the family before he was even a general. He plays Roc City, and is represented by one of my trusted friends in this business, Ben Osborne. My affiliation with the Charlotte Rush (where Zez played last year) gave me a pretty good understanding of who he is as a player and person. Ryan Cruthers coached him and billeted him last year in Charlotte, and I trust no ones development more. Ryan instills discipline and culture both on and off the ice and I look forward to seeing CJ bring what he’s learned to Northeast. CJ is the second player who comes to us via Charlotte Rush, joining Jared Scott. CJ is a kid I expect draws a lot of college attention early after a dynamic yet under-the-radar year in Charlotte.”

As for the other player they aquired today, they got the rights of Shawn McEwen. As Erikson said ” And Shaun will most likely be in Tri-City this year but having his rights in case it doesn’t work out for any reason is huge. He is a very skilled D man that is from MA and is committed to UMASS. So having a local player as a potential high end addition is a big get… Our roster is now very settled as we gear up for Training Camp next week. Really excited about the opportunity to do something special this year.”

Dibble added ” McEwen (or Q) is a kid I have known for a while and plays with me (for the Roc City Elite program) in the summer. He is a UMass Commit and slated to play in the USHL next year. Should plans not work out, we would be happy to have him in Northeast. He is a kid with an NHL frame and ability. For him, I think it’s about challenging himself and allowing his hockey IQ to catch up to his natural ability. If he does end up in northeast, we would have big expectations for him right away.”

Training camp starts next week, the season begins early next month, and Erikson and Dibble have a veteran roster full of players they know coming back, and coming to Attleboro from teams both are familiar with, along with a lot of talent in the USHL that could make their way back to Attleboro. Regardless of the roster this group opens with next month, they will have a pipeline of talent at levels above their league, and at tiers leading into it that can help.

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