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Brunton overcomes obstacles as the OHL draft approaches

'Whatever they see out of me, is what they are going get as I am going to give it all every game'
Ben Brunton in action for the U18 AAA Trappers.

Ben Brunton has come a long way in the past 12 months. 

In mid-February of 2023, the 5'9" and 140-pound forward with the North Bay U18 Trappers had a ruptured appendix. 

That medical issue caused the young hockey player to lose over 25 pounds.  

"I lost a lot of weight from that but I kept on the grind," said Brunton. 

However, Brunton was determined to get back on the ice remarkably within two weeks, and five weeks later he was playing playoff games with his AA U15 Trappers team even though the weight loss dropped him to just around 100 pounds.  

"I did not let it get to my head, I kept working hard and I knew what I wanted to do. I kept hitting the gym and getting on the ice as much as I could," said Brunton.  

"Then I got on the ice with the Voodoos and I had a good camp there and that really gave me the confidence to get where I am at right now," noted Brunton about attending his first Junior 'A' camp.  

Brunton has taken off from there. The skilled forward who models his game after Mitch Marner is coming off his first four-goal outing with the North Bay U18 Trappers in a 7-6 win over the Sudbury U16 Wolves on Sunday in Sudbury. 

Through 28 games played, the 2008 birth year forward has 22 goals and 17 assists for 39 points sitting sixth in Great North U18 scoring. 

"He is a skilled guy, he has good skating and puck-handling abilities," said Vitali Yachmenev, the U18 Trappers coach who has taken over head coaching responsibilities from Guy Blanchard in 2024 while he is away in Florida.  

"He can score, he can make the plays. He does pretty much everything on the ice. He has good hockey sense too, he reads the game, he plays smart every game and that is his strongest part."

Brunton's numbers don't show it, but he says he's more of a set guy than a goal scorer. 

"I am a pass-first kind of guy," he says.  

"I come back in the defensive zone so I am reliable defensively. I can create offense and put the puck in the back of the net." 

Rob Graham, who runs the Mental Hockey Life Skills Program, has worked with Brunton on his mental game as well as running him through dryand training in the summer months. 

"Ben is an athlete that I think is a leader in many ways, on the ice, on the bench and in the dressing room," said Graham. 

"He is a special athlete who has incredible vision on the ice, he is a good teammate. He is focussed on getting better individually and getting better collectively as a team and I think that has really showed in Ben's game in the second half of the season." 

With the OHL Priority Selection approaching this spring, OHL scouts are taking notice. 

"He possesses good offensive skills and has the natural ability to find the back of the net," one OHL Scout told BayToday. 

"He has been an offensive threat all season for his team and is the type of player whose vision and awareness allows him to set up just as many goals as he scores."

Brunton admits it is hard to not think about the OHL Draft this spring, but right now he wants to make the most of his season with the U18 AAA Trappers. 

"I try not to think about it too much, I obviously want to get selected but it is a team sport so all I want to do is win this league first for the team so that is the most important thing to me in my head right now," said Brunton. 

"Whatever they see out of me, is what they are going get as I am going to give it all every game that I play and hopefully I get selected but it is not the top of my mind.". 

Chris Dawson

About the Author: Chris Dawson

Chris Dawson has been with since 2004. He has provided up-to-the-minute sports coverage and has become a key member of the BayToday news team.
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