With five local players being selected in this years 2022 OHL Priority selection last month, it could mark a turning point for hockey in North Bay, specifically the Trappers program.
The last time multiple players from the North Bay Trappers were selected in the same draft was the 2002 birth year class in 2018 when five players were selected (Pacey Schlueting, David Campbell, Jesse Kirkby, Reece Proulx and Jack Stockfish) all by the North Bay Battalion.
In this year's class, Masen Wray, Zachary Major, Marshall McCharles, Kaleb Papineau and Jesse Lefebvre were all chosen by different Ontario Hockey League Clubs including; Hamilton, Owen Sound, Sudbury, Saginaw and North Bay respectively.
The 2018 and 2022 draft classes have another similarity as, in fact, both had players drafted who moved to North Bay to play U16 here in David Campbell (Sault Ste. Marie) and Kaleb Papineau (Cochrane).
Many believe the fact that all five Trappers went to different teams makes the 2006 draft even more special.
Guy Blanchard is a coach with the North Bay AAA Trappers program and he had a big hand in helping the five players in getting selected to their various OHL clubs.
“I would like to congratulate those who went to the 2022 OHL draft and would also like to congratulate the rest of the team members who helped them get there and complete a successful year. It was a team effort for sure,” says Blanchard.
“As a coach I believe these guys were players that made a difference in a game when they were required to. We had other players who did the same but were overlooked this year,” says Blanchard who adds, it’s nice to see players who supported the program they grew up in, and have it pay off.”
He says this past year's experience is hopefully looking to open some eyes to people staying in the north to play their U16 hockey before their OHL draft eligibility.
“We had 20 percent of our players go in the selection and will have many more move on to play juniors after their U16 year and the parents were able to watch them regularly play at home in their own bed,” says Blanchard.
“Some players left to go play in the south and those parents may have spent thousands and thousands of dollars to get the same results from a player who stayed home and played here with his friends, and continued his education in familiar surroundings,” says Blanchard.
He says there is a big perception that people think in order for them to be seen they feel they need to play in the GTA.
“That is incorrect. They will find you. Our guys made noise all year especially after we won the Kitchener tournament,” says Blanchard.
“We told players if you win people will notice and others got the curiosity and reached out as well.”
Blanchard admits that there are more kids that get drafted out of the GTA but he says, “they grab them from everywhere as well and they draw from a large population.”
He adds, “I just want to caution those parents. Do you want your son to be a big fish in a big pond or a big fish in a little pond where u play in all situations? We have local players who played 3 years in the GTA and never got drafted. Unless you’re an elite player and need to play with elite players, stay home to the program that got u there.”