Sev­enth-round pick Lowe has high hopes

Six­teen-year-old cen­tre plans to open 2020-21 OHL sea­son with Ot­ters

The Standard (St. Catharines) - - Sports - BERND FRANKE RE­GIONAL SPORTS EDI­TOR

Cameron Lowe was dis­ap­pointed when COVID-19 crowd re­stric­tions can­celled the OHL Cup.

The 16-year-old from Chip­pawa, a cen­tre with the South Cen­tral cham­pion South­ern Tier Ad­mi­rals, had been look­ing forward to mak­ing one fi­nal last­ing im­pres­sion with scouts be­fore head­ing into the On­tario Hockey League draft.

“It’s such a big tour­na­ment, and you work all sea­son to get there,” he said. “It was just a heart­breaker not to play in it.”

A Grade 10 stu­dent at Saint Michael Catholic High School in Ni­a­gara Falls, Lowe hardly dropped com­pletely off the radar af­ter the much-an­tic­i­pated show­case for draft-el­i­gi­ble mi­nor-midget play­ers was can­celled. He wound up go­ing in the sev­enth round when the Erie Ot­ters took him with the 128th over­all pick.

“I feel like, if I had played in the tour­na­ment, I could have shown a lit­tle bit more, but over­all I am happy with my sea­son,” said Lowe, who had 12 goals and 13 as­sists in 30 reg­u­lar-sea­son games for the Ad­mi­rals.

The six-foot, 156-pound left­hand shot — one of seven Ad­mi­rals to be taken in the on­line draft Satur­day — fol­lowed the pro­ceed­ings on a big-screen TV in the liv­ing room with fam­ily mem­bers.

“I was get­ting a lit­tle bit more anx­ious as rounds went on, see­ing my bud­dies go,” the son of Jon and Leigh Lowe ad­mit­ted. “But, once I saw my name go in the sev­enth round, my stom­ach just had a bunch of but­ter­flies. I was so ex­cited.”

Lowe, who takes pride in play­ing a 200-foot game and in his work on both the power play and penalty kill, doesn’t in­tend to be pi­geon­holed as a midround pick when he at­tends Ot­ters train­ing camp, hope­fully in late Au­gust.

“I’m ex­cited to get down there and show them what I’ve got. Hope­fully, make the team the first year,” he said.

Lowe will be go­ing against older, big­ger and stronger play­ers should he crack the Erie ros­ter as a rookie, a tall or­der, to be sure, though not an in­sur­mount­able one.

“I feel like my height is good. I just have to work on get­ting heav­ier, bulkier. But that comes with time,” he said.

Lowe in­tends to im­prove his take­off as a skater by work­ing on his first three steps.

“I can al­ways work on my skat­ing, just get­ting faster, be­cause ev­ery­thing is faster at the next level,” he said.

The Cana­dian teenager isn’t fazed by the prospect of liv­ing away from home for the first time play­ing on a team based in north­east Penn­syl­va­nia.

“I feel like it will be a bit of an ad­just­ment, but I feel like I can do it,” Lowe said. “Erie is such a great or­ga­ni­za­tion, so I feel like it will be good for me.”

His role model is Chicago Black­hawks cap­tain Jonathan Toews.

“I feel like we play a sim­i­lar game. He’s a good 200-foot cen­tre. Can play any role, whether it’s penalty kill, power play,” Lowe said. “He just helps his team win, and he’s a good leader.”

Like the prospects hop­ing to increase their draft stock, the Ot­ters look forward to the OHL Cup. How­ever, the tour­na­ment is the cul­mi­na­tion of months of track­ing a player’s de­vel­op­ment, not a one-off show­case for scouts.

“All of the ground­work is done by then, and that’s just the cherry on top,” Erie as­sis­tant coach Wes Wolfe said. “From an or­ga­ni­za­tional stand­point, we want to make sure all of our home­work is done well in ad­vance of the OHL Cup tour­na­ment.”

Wolfe, a Ni­a­gara Falls na­tive who coached the Jr. B St. Catharines Fal­cons and then the Port Col­borne Pi­rates be­fore join­ing the Ot­ters, said peo­ple shouldn’t be too hung up on which round a player is drafted.

“Our team is cer­tainly one that doesn’t dis­crim­i­nate re­gard­less of what round a player is drafted in. Some of our best play­ers over the last five years were even free agent play­ers,” Wolfe said.

Erie’s two lead­ing scor­ers this past sea­son — Maxim Golod, with 25 goals and 53 as­sists, and Chat Yet­man, with 43 goals and 31 as­sists — were 13th- and 10th-round picks, re­spec­tively.

“They are just two ex­am­ples of guys who used the opportunit­y but, more im­por­tantly, put in the work,” Wolfe ex­plained. “I think for a player like Cameron, or any other guy for that mat­ter, the opportunit­y is al­ways there for those who are will­ing to put in the work and show the dis­ci­pline re­quired to be an OHL hockey player. If a player is will­ing to put in the work, then the opportunit­y is there.”

Lowe was a player who stood out early in the sea­son and

“From an or­ga­ni­za­tional stand­point, we want to make sure all of our home­work is done well in ad­vance of the OHL Cup tour­na­ment.” WES WOLFE ERIE OT­TERS AS­SIS­TANT COACH

con­tin­ued to im­prove as the year went on.

“That cul­mi­nated in his mi­nor-midget team ad­vanc­ing to the OHL play­downs where he had a tremen­dous tour­na­ment at both ends of the rink,” Wolfe said.

“His last­ing im­pres­sion that he was able to give to our scout­ing staff was in that tour­na­ment.”

Erie was im­pressed with

Lowe’s “abil­ity to play in all im­por­tant sit­u­a­tions.”

“He was a guy who was re­ally counted on by his South­ern Tier team to shut down the other team’s best play­ers,” Wolfe said. “His re­li­a­bil­ity in the de­fen­sive zone I think is prob­a­bly what en­abled him to chip in of­fen­sively, as well.

“He’s got a lot of skill and the abil­ity to tran­si­tion the puck from the de­fen­sive zone into the of­fen­sive zone against the other team’s best play­ers I think was one of the things that was re­ally im­por­tant to us.”

Lowe is av­er­ag­ing in the high 80s and lows 90s in his high school cour­ses at Saint Michael.

His ca­reer goals out­side of hockey in­volve some­thing in the ki­ne­si­ol­ogy field and per­haps be­com­ing a chi­ro­prac­tor.

BERND FRANKE TORSTAR

Six­teen-year-old Cameron Lowe of Chip­pawa had 12 goals and 13 as­sists in 30 reg­u­lar-sea­son games for the South Cen­tral cham­pion South­ern Tier Ad­mi­rals this past cam­paign.

Wes Wolfe

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