New ac­qui­si­tion suited to gritty Petes game

Coach says for­ward brings a new dy­namic to the Petes

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Di­rec­tor mike.davies @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

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.

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT EX­AM­INER

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.

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