The Kitmart Dundee Stars have some exciting updates on our junior development pathway and it involves two of Dundee’s top junior talents.

For the upcoming 2022-2023 Elite League campaign, both Ben Brown and Jonathan McBean will be involved with the Stars team throughout the season, but the pair will also play regular hockey with other teams, as part of two-way deals.

Both of the 18-year-olds will train with Stars and if opportunities arise, then they can be called into action by Stars GM and Head Coach, Jeff Mason.

Discussing the opportunity to further develop and utilise two of Dundee’s top local talents, Mason said: “Both Ben and Johnny are going to train with us throughout the season and we are going to help them out in any way we can with their development, and if we need to call them up to play, then they will be available to us.

“Ultimately, we are trying to build for the future, as these guys can be the future of this club, so we are committed to helping them continue to progress and grow into the professional hockey players they can be.

“It is a great opportunity for us to aid in their development and for us to invest in hopefully the Stars of the future and for them it is an opportunity to learn and develop, whilst learning closely from myself and our players.

“It is a model that has worked well in the past and I saw the benefits of it during my time at Belfast for both the players and the team.”

 

Brown, who practiced with the team last season and also made his EIHL debut with the Stars, is back for more opportunities to learn and develop his game from the players and coaches in this year’s squad.

Ben went on to dress in 18 games for the club last year, whilst also putting up 32 points (13G, 19A) in 18 appearances for Dundee Comets in the Scottish National League.

The left-winger, who also has experience of playing in defence, has been capped 5 times by Team GB and made his World Junior Championship debut this summer with the Under 18’s, scoring one goal.

Brown can add that to his 22 games played for Scotland, where he accumulated 10 points (5G, 5A) and captained the team at Under 13’s and Under 15’s level.

 

Ben Brown (Picture: Derek Black).

 

Speaking about his continued involvement with the Stars, Ben said: “Last year was a huge learning curve for me.

“We had an unreal group of guys last year that I learned a lot from and getting that incredibly valuable experience definitely improved my game massively.”

Ben also expressed his delight to be working with Mason and what he feels he can take away from this opportunity.

He added: “Jeff has great visions for the club, and it is something I really wanted to be a part of again and when the offer came in, it was an easy decision to make.

“For me, playing for my hometown team was always a dream of mine as a kid and to finally be making that dream a reality is a fantastic opportunity.

“The plan of training and playing games, when possible, will really help me develop my game further and show Jeff that I will be ready whenever the team needs me.

“Also, being part of the team again this year will help me become a better version of myself as a player and as a person.”

Finally, Ben shared some of his goals for the upcoming season and he said: “My goals for this year are simply to become a better version of myself every single day I walk into the rink.

“I am really going to try and be pushing for that full time place throughout the course of the year.”

 

Meanwhile, Jonathan McBean will begin his first full season of training with Stars but will also play with Solway Sharks in the National Ice Hockey League Division 1, where he will be coached by Martin Grubb, who also leads Team GB’s Under 20 side.

McBean spent all of last season with the Comets and was the second highest point scorer in league play, with 30 points (21G, 9A) from 14 games, which was only one point behind Stars legend, John Dolan.

The centreman also added two more goals and two assists in five NIHL 1 North Cup fixtures and has spent one season over in Canada with the Ontario Hockey Academy.

 

Jonathan McBean (Picture: Craig Chalmers).

 

Speaking about his two-way deal with Dundee and Solway, McBean said: “I am delighted to get this opportunity to train with the team I grew up watching and I just need to work hard to show that I will be ready if they need me.”

He continued: “I am really excited to get started under both coaches!

“Martin has led Solway to many achievements and Jeff played a big role in the Belfast Giants success last year. so, it will be good to learn from them this season.”

Jonny then discussed his own personal aims for the season ahead and he said: “After seeing how successful Solway were last year, I would love to win a few trophies this year.

“For the Stars, my goal will be to give 100 per cent every session and hopefully make my debut for my hometown team.”

 

McBean’s new coach in Solway, Martin Grubb then added: “I know most people in Scottish hockey have known who Johnny is and known of the abilities he has.

“For a good number of years, he has been one of the shining lights coming through, along with the likes of Ben Brown and some of the others in the Stars and Comets youth development setup.

“I have had him with me in the Great Britain programme and last year he was unlucky not to make the team, but I saw something in him, and it is key for me that young Scots and Brits get an opportunity to go to the highest level they can.

“I have a previous relationship with Jeff from when he worked in Belfast, alongside Adam Keefe and we done a two-way deal with Kell Beattie and a bit with Mack Stewart and their development was incredible through the year with both teams.

“So, we felt it was important to look and find a way for Johnny to progress and go to that next level, then having spoke to Jeff, he was delighted to look at not only a young Scot but a local player, that has the ability to grow and who has huge potential.

“Johnny is now going to get the best of both worlds, where he will work hard, be around the Stars and learn how to be a professional and work with the great players they have and obviously be working with a great coach in Jeff, but he will also still get the game time and get to that next level in the NIHL with ourselves.

“It really is a great opportunity and I know he is excited about it, and Jeff is excited to work with him, as are we.

“So, it ticked all the boxes and like any other young player, if we can provide opportunities and open the door for them, then in the future I think they can become regular Elite League players.”

 

Solway Sharks and Team GB Under 20’s Head Coach, Martin Grubb (Picture: Solway Sharks).

 

The Sharks coach then discussed the benefits of two-way deals and his positive experiences of them in the past.

“Ultimately, the long-term the plan is to help Dundee and the Stars, and these two-way deals give both clubs the opportunity.

“If Johnny impresses, then we have already had that conversation that there will be opportunities to potentially get Elite League ice time and that is the carrot that is dangled for him.

“So, the opportunity is there for him, but ultimately he will still be able to play, rather than just training with no end product and as I said, that experience is invaluable for him.”

Martin continued: “I see huge potential in Johnny and if I am honest, he is my type of player because he is skilled and plays with his head up.

“We saw him in the NIHL Cup and the Comets did a great job getting to the final and were unlucky not to win it, but he was one of the shining lights, even as a young player.

“We have had experience of working with Glasgow Clan and the Giants, and my own experience through the game, but the way I look at it is, my job and my club’s job are to try and get these young players to the highest level they can possibly play.

“So, if we can do some deals that not only help us but more importantly help the player and allow them to go on to work with these Elite League teams, then it can only be of benefit to the game as a whole and certainly to the game in Scotland.

“I have no doubt, after working with Jeff before, that this will benefit us all and importantly, somewhere in the future I would like to think that Johnny McBean will be a regular feature in the Stars line-up.”

 

You can view the Elite Prospects profiles of Ben HERE and Jonny HERE.

You can also get your 2022-2023 Dundee Stars season tickets by contacting: [email protected]

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