With the introduction of last season’s inaugural OHL Under-18 Priority Selection Draft, the focus on the talent level in Midget hockey began to be highlighted even more. There are plenty of success stories from this age group of those who have moved on to the next level of hockey while others continue to play for the love of the game.
One of the key focuses on the Midget year is how it gives players extra time to grow physically and increases their time on the ice to develop their skills. Some players will get an opportunity that they may not have been ready for in previous years and end up thriving in the new environment.
With options for playing increasing once players hit their Midget year, sometimes it’s best not to look too far for an opportunity.
“There’s a lot more ice. I thought it would be better for my development if I stayed home, played Midget, get a lot more ice,” said Jonathan Yantsis, a Midget forward who signed with the Kitchener Rangers halfway through last season. “Just develop my skills in somewhere where I could get a lot of ice.”
While Yantsis went undrafted during his Minor Midget season, he did not let that deter him from continuing to work hard and hone his skills. The new OHL Midget Draft is the perfect chance to see just how much players have improved over the one season.
“For late bloomers, it’s really disheartening not getting drafted because Minor Midget to Midget, the one year you could grow. For me, I grew four inches, put on another 50 pounds. That’s something teams would look at, so the OHL Midget Draft helps open up pathways for kids that didn’t have that early growth spurt or didn’t have the abilities that they would have a year after.”
“I was always one of the smaller guys in my age group. My Minor Midget year, I kind of had time to prepare and grow a little bit,” echoed Victor Hadfield, who was selected in last year’s Midget Draft. “Then the Midget year came and I got bigger, gained a little bit of weight and overall just got better.”
As the game moves towards a faster pace, the emphasis on the size of a player has been decreased. The focus on skill development allows for players of all make ups to be given a chance.
“A lot of guys take a little more time to develop than others,” said Hadfield. “Midget is a really good option for those guys who take a little bit to mature and to grow and get more skilled.”
|Teams to Watch|
|Central Ontario Wolves|
|Niagara North Stars|
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