A handful of local hockey players were among those taken in the Ontario Hockey League’s draft Saturday.
A total of 300 players born in the year 2002 were selected in the 15-round process from 98 different teams across Ontario and parts of the United States.
Locally, Brody Waters from Heidelberg, Reid Oliver from Elmira and Mathias Onuska from Waterloo were picked up by teams in the OHL.
Waters was selected first in the fourth round by the Owen Sound Attack. Having played for the Guelph Gryphons MMAAA team this past season, he ended the regular season with 49 points in 35 games. The right winger also was brought up for one game this past season with the Elmira Sugar Kings and played in the 2018 OHL Cup Showcase.
“Brody is a fierce, fierce competitor. He leaves it all out on the ice every shift. He can play up and down the lineup in any role, you can trust him in any zone, any situation – whether you need a goal or you’re up by a goal late in the game you know he is a key player in that situation,” said Water’s coach, Joe Amlinger. “He has a great skill set for a bigger player, really good hands and I think what makes him really good is his mixture of tenacity and his fierceness of play combined with his high hockey IQ.”
Keeping up to date on the draft at home, Waters says he watched alongside his parents and his grandmother when the good news rolled in.
“It felt amazing – hard to describe, just really excited for what’s to come. It’s just a really good opportunity that I think I have right now, and I am really excited for it,” he said, noting that the Attack was one of the teams who showed interest prior to the draft. “They are a great organization – I know they have a really good team this year.”
Amlinger coached Waters this past year, but due to his involvement in the Woolwich Hockey Academy he has known the young player since he was around peewee age.
“It was a very proud moment,” said Amlinger of the pick, noting that seven of the players on the Guelph team’s roster got picked in the draft. “I know how hard he has worked to earn that opportunity. He is a player who put in a ton of time and investment in himself last off season. He came to our team in August ready to go, in great shape and focused, and we saw his play get better as the year went on. For that to culminate in getting picked on Saturday was just a really cool moment.”
Although the Grade 10 Elmira District Secondary School student really put in the work himself he said he is grateful for all of the support he has had that got him to this point.
“I’d like to thank my coaches, my teammates my friends and my family because they have helped to get me to where I am right now.”
As for Onuska, he was selected seventh in the 13th round by the Kingston Frontenacs. A goalie from the Waterloo Wolves MMAAA team he ended the regular season with six shutouts in 25 games played.
Oliver was selected 14th in the 14th round by the Barrie Colts. The Elmira native played this past season for the Waterloo Wolves midget AAA team, scoring 18 points in 33 games. The defenseman was also brought up by the Sugar Kings to play in a game earlier this season.
The top draft pick of the day went to Sudbury, who chose Quinton Byfield of the York-Simcoe Express midget squad, where he put up 92 points in 34 games.