Whether local fans like to admit it or not there are geographical limitations that the Greyhounds have to deal with when recruiting players to Sault Ste. Marie. With large distance between the Soo and the GTA where a large portion of the provinces population resides it can be difficult to sell families on the advantages of playing for the Hounds over such issues as travel and cost to come and watch their kids play. This was apparent when Dave Torrie was the GM with the team. While there were some good years including a trip to the conference finals one year his draft record wasn’t the greatest which ultimately lead to his demise.
One thing that has been apparent with the Kyle Dubas régime in Sault Ste. Marie is the vision the team has for drafting and development. While a vision can only take you so far he has done a great job of surrounding himself with those can help him move that vision to a successful team building strategy. With director of player development Wes Clark keeping an eye on those young Hounds already drafted and director of player personal Victor Carneiro coordinating the scouting staff and finding those players who will develop and fit the system put in place by Kyle and coach Sheldon Keefe.
The fruits of the hard work laid by those mentioned above has already started to show both on the ice and with the recognition current Hounds have been getting. Not are the results showing up in the win column but you are also seeing Hounds signing NHL contracts whether it be by the team that drafted them or a free agent contract. Not only does this serve as recognition for hard work it also makes the recruiting effort easier as you now have quantifiable results. A lot of fans like to come out and make jokes about the London Knights and how the somehow bend the rules and pay players. The best pay day a player can get is an NHL contract and when a team has success in allowing players reach that goal more want to take their talents to that team. For every Max Domi and Michael McCarron there is a Josh Anderson or a Tommy Hughes. A free agent passed over by every other team in the OHL only to develop in London and land an NHL contract. The more success the Hounds have at targeting the players they want and developing them into NHLers the easier it will be to recruit higher end players.
Kyle now has 3 OHL drafts under his belt as an OHL GM. 2011 has so far seen 8 players drafted by the Hounds make it to the OHL with varying degrees of success as well as atleast 3 players receive division 1 scholarships to NCAA schools. The 2012 draft has seen 9 players either sign or play for the Greyhounds, most of which have had a fairly large hand in the Hounds success to date. But that brings us to the 2013 draft. So far 3 from that class have suited up for the Hounds but where are the rest playing? Past years you have had the likes of Miller and Jenkins developing in the OJHL, Ganly and Hughes spent their 16 year old seasons playing midget hockey. Coming up is a list of some Hounds prospects and where they have been playing so far this year. This isn’t a complete list but it will give you an idea on what some of your potential future Hounds have been doing so far this year.
Jr A and Jr B
Chris Klack – Ancaster Avalanche 6th Round 108th overall 2013
Picked up from the Halton Hurricanes minor midget program Chris was one of 3 Hounds draft sleepers named by intheoradio following the OHL priority selection. Playing a key offensive role for Ancaster as he is 5th among the teams forwards in scoring but is the youngest player on the team. While his offensive production has slowed down a bit from a hot start he is still a coveted player. One of the top uncommitted ’97 born players in the province he will be an important player to sign as he is sure to generate plenty of interest from NCAA schools.
GP 27 G 4 A 20 P 24 PPG 0 PPA 9
Hayden Verbeek Chatham Maroons 4th Round 71st overall 2013
Hayden was drafted out of the Sun County minor midget program and has really blossomed this season playing Jr B in Chatham. Playing in the highly competitive Western Confrence where 6 of the 9 teams have winning records he is putting up better offensive numbers now then as a MM. Hayden is they type of player who leaves it all on the ice. He is a bit on the smallish side but he hasn’t let that hold him back as he has made the step up in competition this year. May not have as high a ceiling as some but he definitely has a higher floor.
GP 18 G 5 A 15 P 20 PPG 0 PPA 2
Patrick Desjardins Welland Canadians 9th Round 2012
A big defenseman who comes in at 6’3” 195lbs has been playing a key role for the Welland Canadians this season. He has been seeing a fair bit of PP time this season for Welland he has shown an ability to use his big size to neutralize opposing forwards. Faces an up hill battle to break through with the Hounds due to the teams depth on the blueline.
GP 24 G 1 A 11 P 12 PPG 0 PPA 7
Zachary Senyshyn Smith Falls Bears 3rd Round 51st Overall 2013
A fast and mobile skater that the Hounds plucked out of the Ottawa Senetors minor midget program last season. Was invited to the final U17 Ontario camp at the end of the summer. Currently playing in the CCHL where statistically speaking he has started to pick up after a slow start and helping his team as they sit 2nd in their division. Has picked up half of his points in the last month.
(Note: While I was writing this Zachary picked up his first career CCHL Hat Trick as his hot play in November seems to have carried over into December)
GP 27 G 5 A 5 P 10 PPG 1 PPA 0
Already signed by the Hounds he played a handful of exhibition games with the team before being assigned to the affiliate franchise the Soo Thunderbirds. Playing for one of the top Jr A teams in the country as they are ranked 5th in the in the CJHL top 20. More of a steady stay at home defenceman he has added some nice depth to the Thunderbirds blueline while playing plenty of minutes that has only furthered his development.
GP 21 G 1 A 4 P 5 PPG 0 PPA 0
Prep School Hockey
St Andrews College
St Andrews College is one of the top private schools in the province. The hockey team competes in both the CISSA (Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association) as well as the MPHL (Midwest Prep Hockey League based out of the USA). Some notable alumni of this high school include actor Keifer Sutherland as well as New York Rangers defenseman Michael Del Zotto. Currently 3 Hounds 2013 draft selections are plying their trade at St Andrews College. Education is clearly a priority to these 3 so it will be interesting to see what they plan to do with their hockey careers after this season.
JD Falcnor 7th Round 131st Overall
JD became just the 3rd player to score 10 goals during a single OHL cup last year. A bit on the smallish side but he hasn’t let that slow him down at all. Playing in 2 leagues one based in Ontario and the other in the USA the travel heavy schedule has not been a deterrent. The team just recently lost its first game of the year an exhibition match against a team from Massachusetts.
GP 14 G 10 A 9 P 10
Justin Fregona 13th round 251st overall
If JD Falcnor is a bit on the smallish side then Justin is all the way on the smallish side. Coming in at 5’5” 142lbs when he was drafted he was still someone who was able to put up good offensive numbers while playing for the Toronto Marboros MM team last year that came 2nd in the OHL cup. Currently 2nd on his team in PIMs so you know he isn’t the type of player to shy away from a challenge.
GP 14 G 6 A 9 P 15
Austin Cho 12th Round 231st Overall
A MM teammate of Justin Fregona with the Toronto Marlboros last season was in my opinion one of the better Dmen at the Hounds prospect camp last May. Has shown a knack for offense so far this season for St Andrews College as all 3 Hounds prospects are averaging more than a point per game.
GP 14 G 4 A 14 P 18
Midget stats are a little harder to come by so I will just be leaving a list of 5 picks currently playing midget hockey to keep an eye on.
Jake Behse Thunder Bay Kings AAA Midget
Highest Hound pick playing in Midget. Currently in a league that includes the famed Shattuck’s St Mary’s program out of Minnesota that boasts Sidney Crosby and Jonothan Toews as alumnus.
Adrian Clark Vaughan Kings AAA Midget
After playing for the Oakville Rangers last year he has moved on the the GTHL and Vaughan Kings AAA midget program. I believe he has signed to AP with the Stouffville Spirit of the OJHL although nothing is official based on the leagues website.
Will Scott Whitby Wildcats AAA Midget
A dynamic offensive player at the midget level. Currently playing for one of the top ranked midget teams he is averaging more than a point per game. Failed to make it to the playoffs at the recent Kitchener Blueline Tournament as their only lose was to the eventual champion Halton Hurricanes.
James Thomson York Simcoe Express AAA Midget
Captain of the YSE midget team that has not had the greatest season (team not the player). A strong skater who looked very intriguing at the Hounds prospect camp from the backend.
Travis Campbell Windsor Jr Spitfires AAA Midget
Started the season playing for Wheatley in the Great Lakes jr C loop. Has since returned to a strong Windsor team where he has 3 points in 4 games to go along with 28 PIMs