New acquisition suited to gritty Petes game
Coach says forward brings a new dynamic to the Petes
Michael Little says he was ready to leave home.
The newest member of the Peterborough Petes was still living at home playing for his hometown Mississauga Steelheads. He’d just left his house 15 minutes from the rink to catch the Steelheads bus for a northern road trip when he got a call shortly before noon on Thursday. He learned he’d been traded to Peterborough. Coincidentally, the Petes shipped Mississauga native Nick Isaacson back home in the deal.
“I liked it,” said Little, of his reaction to the trade. “I really like the coaches. I really like the guys. They play kind of a physical game, hard in the corners, which is how I play … a gritty game.”
The six-foot, 187-pound left wing was Mississauga’s thirdround selection in the 2016 OHL draft off the Toronto Marlies minor midgets.
When asked if it was tough to leave home, he replied: “I’m getting older. I’m almost 19 years old. Change is good. I’m excited about living away from home and to do things on my own now and mature a little bit more.”
Little’s family has ties to the area. His father Jeff grew up in Havelock where Michael’s grandmother Elizabeth Little lives.
“I’ve been around here my whole life,” Little said.
The Steelheads dealt stars Owen Tippett and Ryan McLeod prior to the deadline and appear to be taking a different direction than the Petes who hope to move up the standings and achieve playoff success the next two seasons. The 2000-born Little has one more year of junior eligibility and could return as an overage player in the 2020-21 season.
“Mississauga sold a lot of their top players at the end there and Peterborough has a really strong team,” Little said.
“We played them three times in the last 10 days so knowing how they play and the players they have they have a lot of potential this year and a really strong team. I’m excited for what the future holds here.”
The Petes also hold one of Little’s best friends. Recently acquired defenceman Ryan Merkley was Little’s teammate for 11 years in minor hockey starting at tyke.
“I’ve known Merkley since we were three years old so we’re almost like brothers. I had my pre-game meal at his house and then came here to meet everyone and play the game,” Little said. “We work out together every summer. We’re really tight.”
Petes head coach Rob Wilson said Little brings a dynamic the team needed.
“He likes to bang bodies and he fits in well with some of our guys,” Wilson said.
“He has some talent, too, so when we get him understanding what we’re doing he’ll be a guy who is important in the playoffs.”
Considering he arrived in Peterborough at 3:30 p.m. and was thrown into a game with no practice, Wilson was impressed by what he saw.
“That’s a really tough situation,” Wilson said.
“I liked that he was really banging in the third period and it was an important part of the game for us. We’ll look forward to seeing more but it was a good start.”
NOTE: The Petes host the North Bay Battalion at 7:05 p.m. Saturday at the PMC. It’s also the seventh annual Saves 4 CF game. Saves 4 CF is a program initiated in partnership with former Petes netminder Andrew D’Agostini. GM Financial and John Newman Contracting donate $1 to Cystic Fibrosis Canada for every save made by a Petes goalie. There will be a silent auction and chuck-a-puck in support of Saves 4 CF. Prizes include concert tickets, CHL memorabilia, gift cards, gift baskets, lunch with the Petes and more.
New Peterborough Petes foward Michael Little in action against the Oshawa Generals during OHL action on Thursday night at the Memorial Centre. The Petes host the North Bay Battalion on Saturday night.