Many prospects who get picked up in the OHL Priority Draft don’t end up playing in the Ontario Hockey League, but that hasn’t been the case for Mitch Hoelscher.
The West Montrose resident has played games for the Ottawa 67’s this season, while also playing for the Elmira Sugar Kings.
He was picked up by the Junior Ottawa team 56th overall in the OHL Priority Draft last year and has been called up six times to fill out their roster.
Hoelscher explains what it was like to make his debut in the OHL.
“I was probably more nervous. When I first got the call I was excited and when it got closer and closer I was nervous,” he said.
Before beginning his junior career with Elmira’s Junior B team, he spent the 2015-16 season with the Waterloo Wolves’ AAA Minor Midget team, where he accumulated 67 points (31 goals and 36 assists).
Taking a crack at a higher level of hockey has been a dream come true for the 17-year-old forward.
“I’ve been looking forward to this day for a long time. Growing up I always wanted to play in the Ontario Hockey League. To get that first chance at it was a pretty cool feeling.”
In his first regular season with the Elmira Sugar Kings he tallied 19 goals and 22 assists. He was third in terms of points for the team, behind Ethan Skinner and Jake Brown.
Thus far in the playoffs, he’s earned three goals and five assists.
While those points are all well and good, it’s hard to describe what it was like to score – twice – for Ottawa.
“It was probably one of the best feelings. I didn’t even think about scoring.”
He says he was more focused on just trying to not mess up.
“Luckily I was in the right spot at the right time and put the puck in the net, which is a pretty cool feeling.”
All of his family travelled to watch him play his first game in the OHL against Hamilton, and were thrilled when he scored.
“It was pretty special. One of the guys when I came on to the bench said ‘are those your parents still cheering?’ And I said ‘I guess.’ It was pretty funny.”
Making it that far is something he partly attributes to this season with the Sugar Kings.
“Ty (Canal) and Trent Brown, the coaches there, they just helped me to develop in practices and games. They’re all good players there too so they just help me improve and get better every day.”
Now, he’s focused on helping Elmira get as far as possible in the GOJHL playoffs.
“We want to get that Cherrey Cup. I think we’ve got the right group of guys here that can do it and hopefully we can make a good run for it.”