Wolves prospects shine at Gold Cup

Club’s draft choices ex­cel at Gold Cup

The Sudbury Star - - FRONT PAGE - BEN LEE­SON

It’s very likely that 20 gen­eral man­agers liked a lot of what they saw from their prospects at the OHL Gold Cup in Kitch­ener, Ont. last week­end, but few may have been as thrilled as the Sud­bury Wolves’ Rob Pa­p­ineau was with the per­for­mance of his lat­est crop of draft picks.

Not only did de­fence­man An­dre Ana­nia (fourth round, 71st over­all) and for­ward Ryan Gillespie (sev­enth round, 137th) win gold with Team GTHL Blue, but cen­tre­man Lan­don McCal­lum (first round, 15th) and eighth-rounder Ryan Burke (eighth round, 155th) were stand­outs for the Al­liance team that won bronze.

For­ward Chase Still­man (sec­ond round, 25th over­all) was a leader for Team NOHA which, de­spite in­juries, pulled off an up­set of Team GTHL Red, which in­cluded such stars as Shane Wright and Brandt Clarke.

“We were very happy with the way our guys per­formed at the Gold Cup,” Pa­p­ineau said. “They all did very well for their teams, we had some of them lead their teams in scor­ing. Lan­don was out­stand­ing for the Al­liance, we had two guys who won a gold with the Blue team. Alex Pineau was, in our opin­ion, the best player for HNO and Josh Simp­son played ex­cel­lent for the Black team. All eight of our guys had very good show­ings.”

The OHL Gold Cup is a key step in Hockey Canada’s Pro­gram of Ex­cel­lence and an iden­ti­fi­ca­tion tool for the national un­der-17 pro­gram.

While solid out­ings were cer­tainly ex­pected from the likes of McCal­lum, who col­lected four points in four games with Team Al­liance, or Ethan Lar­mand, who had five points in four con­tests with OMHA White, the event was an op­por­tu­nity for later se­lec­tions, such as Burke, to grab a share of the spot­light.

The Lon­don, Ont. na­tive cer­tainly did that, col­lect­ing seven points to fin­ish be­hind only Clarke and Bren­nan Oth­mann in tour­na­ment scor­ing.

“You look at the last two games Ryan Burke played and he showed why held his team in scor­ing,” Pa­p­ineau said of Burke, a prod­uct of the El­gin-Mid­dle­sex Chiefs or­ga­ni­za­tion. “There’s a guy who played on a team that didn’t have the re­sults, I’m sure, that they wanted, but he was in on something like 70 per cent of their goals. He showed how in­tel­li­gent he is, how smart he is, and how, when he gets the time and space, he makes very good de­ci­sions.”

Though Still­man’s tour­ney ended with a bro­ken wrist that will keep him off the ice at the Wolves’ ori­en­ta­tion camp this Satur­day and Sun­day, the son of Sud­bury head coach Cory Still­man played some of his best hockey all sea­son.

The skilled sec­ond-rounder fin­ished with a goal and four as­sists to lead Team NOHA in points.

“We have liked Chase all sea­son, ob­vi­ously, but that could be the best I have seen him,” Pa­p­ineau said. “He was skat­ing bet­ter than he was, even dur­ing the play­offs with Ray­side. Ev­ery time he was on the ice, he was a presence, you no­ticed him, he was mak­ing out­stand­ing de­ci­sions. I got a text from one of his coaches last night, let­ting us know how well he did on the ice, which we saw, and also the lead­er­ship he was pro­vid­ing to the team and how pleased they were. It was def­i­nitely an un­for­tu­nate col­li­sion that he had and that hap­pens in hockey some­times, but he’ll be fine, he’s re­silient. But he was def­i­nitely out­stand­ing.”

While Still­man won’t take part in on-ice ses­sions this week­end, the Wolves will have much of their fu­ture on dis­play at ori­en­ta­tion camp, with picks from the 2018 and 2019 OHL Pri­or­ity Se­lec­tions and un­der-18 drafts, as well as sev­eral free agents, tak­ing part in prac­tices on Satur­day, at 5:15 p.m. and 6:15 p.m., and a scrimmage on Sun­day, at 8:15 a.m.

For­ward Quin­ton By­field and de­fence­men Jack Thomp­son and Isaak Phillips, who played for the Wolves as rook­ies in 2018-19, will at­tend the camp. Goalies Jonathan Le­maire and Mitchell Weeks, who each suited up for a few games last sea­son, will join 2018 13th-round pick Ni­cholas Hein­zle in guard­ing the crease.

Other prospects from the 2018 OHL Pri­or­ity Se­lec­tion in­clude for­wards Blake But­ler, Michael Tiveron, Si­mon La­belle, Ryan Smith, Gior­dano Biondi and Luke Strick­land and de­fence­men Dar­ren Beat­tie and Rob­bie Ste­wart. Blue­liner Nathan Ribau was set to take part, but he’ll be in Brooks, Alta., vy­ing for a National Ju­nior A Cham­pi­onship with Oakville of the On­tario Ju­nior Hockey League. De­fence­man Kyle Au­coin, com­mit­ted to an NCAA pro­gram at Har­vard, is not ex­pected to at­tend.

Par­tic­i­pants from the 2019 OHL Pri­or­ity Se­lec­tion in­clude for­wards McCal­lum, Lar­mand, Ryan Gillespie, Burke, Jaxon Bedard, Cameron Ko­surko, Cole Wat­son and Owen Hollingsworth and de­fence­men Ana­nia, Pay­ton Robin­son, Pineau and Simp­son.

Sud­bury’s 2019 draft picks who won’t at­tend camp in­clude for­ward Red Sav­age, a com­mit to Mi­ami Univer­sity and the U.S. un­der-17 pro­gram, and de­fence­man Trevor Mitchell, a Western Michi­gan com­mit. Goalie Justyn Ross, the brother of Wolves de­fence­man Liam Ross, will miss camp while try­ing out for a ju­nior A team.

“We re­ally be­lieved, like I’m sure a lot of other teams did, that we had other guys from our draft who should have been at the (Gold Cup),” Pa­p­ineau said. “We re­ally thought Robin­son be­longed there for sure and felt he was a much bet­ter player than some who were there. Same with Hollingsworth out of Ot­tawa and Cam Ko­surko from Cen­tral On­tario. We felt that more of our guys could have been there, but it’s go­ing to be ex­cit­ing to see them this week­end. We’re also re­ally look­ing for­ward to the guys com­ing back. As ex­cited as you get about a draft, it hap­pens ev­ery year and we were hav­ing the same con­ver­sa­tion one year ago about a lot of the players who have now gone away, got­ten big­ger, stronger, faster, more ex­pe­ri­enced, and bring­ing in those guys is something we’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to.”

Among that group of re­turnees will be Weeks, the reign­ing OJHL rookie of the year and Sud­bury’s only pick from the 2018 un­der-18 draft who will at­tend camp this week­end. For­wards Nick DeGrazia and Sa­muel Va­chon, for­wards taken in the 2019 U18 draft, will also be in at­ten­dance.

Round­ing out the field is a group of free agents that in­clude for­ward Niko­las Camp­bell and de­fence­man An­thony Biniaris, DeGrazia’s team­mates from the Thun­der Bay midgets, as well as for­wards Philippe Daoust, from the French River Rapids, Joseph Jor­dan, from the North Bay Trap­pers, and Shel­don Pryce, from the El­gin-Mid­dle­sex Chiefs, and de­fence­man Carter Ge­of­froy, from the Ni­a­gara North Stars.


Sud­bury Wolves prospects do bat­tle as Chase Still­man (cen­tre) of Team NOHA takes on Lan­don McCal­lum (right) of Team Al­liance dur­ing the OHL Gold Cup last week­end.

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