The Wanderers have chosen Cory Bent as the first overall selection in the 2019 CPL-U Sports draft, which also saw the club pick Jake Ruby.
22-year-old Bent is a winger who has built a reputation of creating and scoring goals in his four years with the Cape Breton Capers.
“I think he is the brightest prospect coming out of University,” said Wanderers coach Stephen Hart. “He has the ability to play wide left and wide right and not only score but also assist. He’s the player I wanted.”
Bent scored three goals in the U Sports championship in Montreal, including a penalty-kick which sealed a 3-2 win for the Capers, in the bronze medal game on Sunday.
“It’s just an overwhelming feeling of gratitude really, I have been hoping to get a chance to play professionally and this is where I was hoping,” Bent said.
The 5 ft. 6 in. winger, who is originally from Preston in the UK, previously played for Preston North End’s academy team.
Hart has been aware of his speed and finishing skills at the University level for some time.
“He’s a player I’ve seen over the last four years and I’ve spoken to him before and he’s very level headed with his feet on the ground,” Hart said.
While goals are a big part of his game, Bent wants the fans to know he’s also someone who works hard to win the ball back.
“As much as I like to score I like to defend as well and hopefully I can bring that to the Wanderers Grounds,” he said.
The young prospect is trying to follow in his father’s footsteps.
Junior Bent, who is now a coach, played more than 300 games as a winger in the English Football League — most notably for Huddersfield Town, Bristol City and Blackpool.
As well as feeling lucky with the ongoing guidance of his dad, Bent is giving a shout out to Capers coach Deano Morley who brought him to Cape Breton.
“I took a plunge coming over here and without Deano this wouldn’t even be possible, he’s been a great mentor and figure for me,” Bent said.
After picking Bent first overall, the Wanderers then had to wait to the very end of the U Sports draft to make their second choice.
Stephen Hart picked defender Jake Ruby, from Trinity Western Spartans, in 14th place.
Ruby, who is 19, is a former Vancouver Whitecaps academy player and also played for Vancouver TSS Rovers in the Premier Development League.
He won a starting role with the Spartans in his rookie year, going on to play every game.
“He has the ability to play on both left and right side of defence and he came from the Whitecaps academy,” Hart said. “Various coaches in his region said he has a huge capacity to physically cover a lot of ground and is technically quite good.”
Vancouver-born Ruby is excited to be travelling to the East Coast having heard all about the passion of the Wanderers fans and atmosphere at the stadium in Halifax.
“I would consider myself an energizer, a player who does anything for the team. I can get up and down the field quickly and look to get in crosses in,” Ruby said.
Coach Hart said he was pleased with the club’s draft choices.
“These are the positions we need to fill so I’m happy. There are no guarantees with either player and we will have to see how they do in preseason training,” Hart said.
Bent and Ruby will be invited to the Wanderers training camp where they will try to earn spots on Hart’s squad next March.
One of the team’s U Sports picks from last year’s draft will be there alongside them.
Since being drafted, Christian Oxner, signed a pro deal and went on to become the team’s starting goalkeeper last season.
He has re-signed with the club, along with striker Akeem Garcia who finished the season as the Wanderers top scorer.
The Wanderers will be making more signing announcements in the coming days as Stephen Hart continues to build his team for the 2020 season.