NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, TX – The Lone Star Brahmas are pleased to announce the addition of two more skaters for the 2016-17 season. Oakland Jr. Grizzlies Under-18 forward Dalton Messina and defenseman Blake Evennou join teammate Julian Biondo by signing a tender contract with the Brahmas.
“Honestly I just heard great things about the coaching staff and how [the Brahmas] are a great program to play for,” Messina said. “Obviously the placement is perfect and one of my closer friends Julian Biondo tendered earlier in the year so that just made the decision a heck of a lot easier.”
Messina and Biondo played on the same line this season in Oakland, and as a result, they were one of the best forward lines in the Tier I Elite Hockey League. The 1998 forward went on to say that it is “going to be a special experience” to continue his hockey career with Biondo.
Messina, a 5-foot-11, 185-pound center, finished second on the team in goals (22), points (47), and game-winning goals (4). The native of Macomb, Michigan also led the Grizzlies with three short-handed goals and he could play during all situations on the ice.
“I think my hard work separates me from a lot of players. I like to consider myself really hard to play against. I have a little scoring touch, an edge to my game, and I think I see the ice pretty well,” Messina stated.
The future Brahma is looking forward to carrying his recent success into the North American Hockey League. Despite finishing with 14 multi-point games during the 2015-16 season and scoring at a point-per-game pace in the playoffs, Messina said he is embracing the opportunity to become a better overall player with the Brahmas.
“I’d just like to do whatever it takes to help the team win. If they need me to go in the corners, if they need me to score goals, whatever it is I’ll try my hardest to do it that’s for sure,” Messina said.
In 72 games with the Grizzlies U18 program, Messina has 66 points and 173 penalty minutes.
“I can become a better skate, work on my shot, improve my face-offs, and become and all-around 200-foot player.”
Blake Evennou becomes the third member of the Grizzlies organization and second defenseman to tender with Lone Star for next season. Evennou and Messina have known each other since they first started playing hockey and the defensive commit currently goes to school with Biondo.
“I’m very excited to play with [Biondo and Messina] next season. As you know it would be my second year with them and I feel like we all have good chemistry built up, being on the same power play as well as playing a lot with them in regular play,” Evennou said.
The 5-foot-9, 180-pound defenseman ranks second in T1EHL defensemen scoring (33) and power play points (10). Evennou recorded at least one point in 23 of 32 games this season and he has no doubt that Lone Star presents a great opportunity for him at the junior hockey level.
“I’ve heard nothing but good stuff coming from the organization. It’s a strong team with a solid D-core, along with good coaching. Plus I’ve heard the location is very nice right by Dallas,” Evennou said.
After nearly three seasons operating in the NAHL, the Brahmas will have moved on two players to the United State Hockey League, nine to the NCAA ranks, and one to professional hockey (as of March 3, 2016).
The scoring defenseman is eager to continue the legacy of having strong defensive teams in Brahmaland and he wants it to be known that he contributes in more than just one zone.
“I am a very offensive minded defenseman with the ability to lead the rush as well as having the speed to get back. I can also control the back end very well,” Evennou said.
The Shelby Township, Michigan native said he has worked hard this season to improve his blueline shot through traffic, which is what Brahmas Head Coach Dan Wildfong and Assistant Coach Jeff Potter have worked on this year with their defensemen. As a 1998 birth year, Evennou will have three seasons of junior hockey eligibility to continue to improve his two-way game.
“I feel like I can work on everything. I’m always working to break plateaus in my game. I’m never the one to thing its ‘good enough.’ No matter how good you are, you can always be better and find ways to get better.”
Prior to Oakland, Evennou played for the Glacier Nationals of the NA3HL. He finished the season with four goals and 13 assists in 42 games.
Biondo, Messina, and Evennou helped lead the Oakland Jr. Grizzlies to the T1EHL championship game, but they fell short 3-1 in the title game against the North Jersey Avalanche.
The Brahmas have already signed seven players via tenders for next season. Lone Star still has six tenders to help build their 2016-17 roster.
Also, be sure to follow Messina (@DMessina14), Evennou (@blakeevennou), and Biondo (@jbiondo24) on Twitter.