It’s been a wild start to the CCHL season, including many surprises for the pleasure of Ottawa hockey fans everywhere. Brockville and Carleton Place have rolled out of the gate, some new arrivals have drastically changed the shape of certain teams making this coming season’s unpredictability factor that much more prominent.

More importantly, parity and competitiveness appear to be at centre stage for now. Parity is often taken for granted in sports – a competitive league makes things that much better and that’s what the CCHL is.

A factor that comes into play for parity is the addition of top-level players to teams who weren’t projected to be near the top of the standings. This has indeed happened, and certain clubs have benefited from some kinks to their respective rosters.

The Cumberland Grads are among those teams, celebrating the addition of Dylan McDonald who was signed by the Ottawa 67’s in August.

McDonald came into 67’s camp as a question mark for making the team – he had an outside shot along with players such as Ben Fanjoy, however unlike the latter McDonald was brought onto the Barberpole’s preseason roster.

McDonald was eventually released and has since been assigned to the CCHL’s Grads, providing a boost on the offensive side of the puck. He racked up points at a Pt/G pace last year in the Upper Canada Cyclones organization. That wasn’t all, as he impressed many at the 67’s tryout camp, as well as in the preseason games where he was on the roster.

Another body that could potentially move his way down to Cumberland – and keep in mind that this is pure speculation – is Daniel Walsh, who was released from the 67’s last week. Walsh is a former Grad, which would lead one to believe that he could potentially find himself back in his old stomping grounds.

This seems especially possible given that many other notable 67’s camp releases (others that haven’t been mentioned are Zullo, Ngwafusi and Veronneau) currently have homes in the CCHL – however nothing is confirmed and there is a lengthy list of potential places for Walsh to land. We’ll have to wait and see what he decides; there is no doubt that he’d play a big role in any Tier 2 team that he joins.

Another member of last year’s 67’s team who has had his OHL roster spot stripped is Mathieu Desautels. Desautels was released after the main tryout camp ended and following a failed attempt at entering the QMJHL , he’s found himself back on the blue line for the Ottawa Jr. Sens.

Ottawa is already equipped with a powerful offense featuring Eric Clitsome, Hunter Racine and Ryan Collins – a defender with OHL experience is just what they need to put themselves at the top of the Yzerman Division championship picture.

The amount of time that Desautels will be around the CCHL is still a wonder, as he has made it apparent on social media that he would rather be in major junior. If he does stick around, look for the Jr. Sens to continue their rise up the Yzerman.

Speaking of dangerous acquisitions, Mark Petaccio is another OHL release who’s been directed to Eastern Ontario’s primary developmental league. Petaccio is another guy who may not find himself in the Jr. A ranks for very long being a 3-year OHL veteran of the Oshawa Generals, Soo Greyhounds and the Ottawa 67’s; but in the mean time he’s given his new Pembroke Lumber Kings team a significant spark.

If one could describe Petaccio, it would be a big, tough forward who isn’t easy to play against. This is a scary thought in the CCHL, especially on a retooling Lumber Kings team with a good amount of potential, posting a 4-3-0-1 record at this point of the season.

However the question of Petaccio’s future is relevant. If I had to pick a player out of the 67’s releases that would be the first to re-enter the CHL, it would be Petaccio given his 6’4” frame and the veteran experience that he brings. Petaccio already has a stat line of 2 goals and 11 PIMs in 2 games played for Pembroke.

These roster additions among others have bolstered the talent of the CCHL and hopefully will increase the visibility of the league as well. 67’s camp releases only bring good things to the CCHL’s calibre.

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