A handful of London area teenagers were selected in this year’s Ontario Hockey League draft, but not nearly as many last year.
The 2001 age group has been strong in the area for a number of years, and it showed at last year’s draft. 11 players from the London Junior Knights were selected in the OHL draft, and a pair were drafted out of the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs program.
The Junior Knights actually had 12 players drafted to a Canadian Hockey League (CHL) team, but one of those players was taken by a team in the QMJHL. It’s the most off a single team in the program’s history.
Eight of those 12 players have already signed with their CHL team, with seven of them already playing in their first games.
From the Junior Knights
After being named the ALLIANCE Hockey Minor Midget Player of the Year, Ryan Suzuki was taken first overall by the Barrie Colts. He skated in 64 games with the Colts this season, scoring 14 goals and 44 points. He also had seven points in six games with Canada Red at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He’s the younger brother of Vegas Golden Knights first rounder Nick Suzuki, who’s currently playing with the OHL’s Owen Sound Attack.
Aiden Prueter was also invited to represent his country at that tournament, he suited up for Canada Black. Prueter, a 24th overall pick by the Saginaw Spirit, had 11 points in 63 games with the Spirit this season.
Luke Drewitt got a taste of the OHL this season, the 94th overall pick of the Kingston Frontenacs, spent the year with the GOJHL’s London Nationals. He’s currently on a lengthy playoff run with the Nats, and suited up in six games with Kingston earlier in the year.
Jeff Burridge and Liam Van Loon were taken with back-to-back picks in the third round. Burridge was taken 49th overall by the Flint Firebirds, he has yet to sign with the OHL club in order to keep his NCAA eligibility in tact. He spent the season with the OHJL’s Wellington Dukes.
Van Loon was was selected by the Hamilton Bulldogs with the next pick, and even skated in in a pair of games with the OHL club during the regular season, and has been in the lineup for one playoff game. He led the GOJHL’s Ancaster Avalanche in scoring, and was the Golden Horseshoe’s Rookie of the Year.
Peter Fleming enjoyed a successful season with the GOJHL’s St. Thomas Stars, scoring 11 goals and 39 points in 42 games. He was a selected by the Barrie Colts 101st overall.
Mason Millman also played with the Stars, he was the Western Confernce’s top rookie defencemen, scoring 22 points in 49 games. A 124th overall selection by Saginaw, he signed and played six games with the Spirit this season.
The team’s starting goalie Owen Say was taken 157th by the London Knights. He played last season with the Junior Knights’ Major Midget team.
Mason Howard, selected 185th overall by Niagara, didn’t play with the IceDogs this season but he has signed. He had 9 goals and 48 points with the GOJHL’s Thorold Blackhawks.
Levi Siau was taken 227th overall by the Sudbury Wolves. He spent the season with the NOJHL’s French River Rapids, scoring 22 goals and 48 points in 51 games. He signed with the Wovles and played in nine games with the team this year.
Another selection of the Wolves, Bryce Lewis, was taken 247th overall. He spent the season with his teammate Owen Say with the Junior Knights Major Midget team.
Brett Budgell was a unique case. Born in St. John’s, Budgell wasn’t eligible for the OHL draft. It didn’t take long before he was snatched up in the QMJHL draft, 30th overall by the Charlottetown Islanders. After starting the season in the USHL, Budgell made his way to Charlottetown, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 32 games with the Islanders.
From the Elgin Middlesex Chiefs
The Chiefs had a pair of players taken in the 2017 draft, and both spent the season playing full time in the OHL
Mark Woolley was taken in the third round, 54th overall by the Guelph Storm. He spent the season in Guelph, suiting up in 66 games, scoring a pair of goals to go along with nine points.
Navrin Mutter was the other player selected, he went 83rd overall to the Hamilton Bulldogs. Injuries limited his games during his rookie season, but he did dress in 28 contests, scoring a pair of goals and adding an assist.
Mutter tells 980 CFPL about the anxious moments on draft day as he waited for his name to be called.
“You start watching your buddies go, and start wondering when it’s your tune. I was watching on the computer with my dad, and when I finally saw my name pop up next to Hamilton jumped up and gave him a hug, and there were quite a few not so dry eyes there,” said Mutter, who grew up playing with and against a majority of the players who were drafted.
“It was cool seeing guys I’ve known since I was really young, even know we still keep in touch talk about what each team is like, and what the organization and fans are like.”
Mutter who grew up playing minor hockey in Lucan, says he was thrilled to see his hometown win the Kraft Hockeyville competition.
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