That Kid From Austria – Ottawa’s Marco Rossi Impresses On OHL Day In Cornwall

Fall has finally made its warm greeting into Canada and you know what that means. It’s hockey season! After a dreadfully hot summer it felt great getting into the crisp atmosphere of a hockey arena again. And I started my 2018/2019 season with quite the barn burner.

The Ottawa 67s and Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League graced the City of Cornwall with their exhibition presence on Labour Day. It was the first time the OHL had returned to Cornwall since 1993 when the Royals moved to Newmarket.

I didn’t think I was going to hop into scouting mode for an exhibition game but after a couple minutes into the first, I was kicking myself for not bringing a notepad.

Only one player really stood out to me and that’s unusual. I’ll usually pick a couple guys on each team to look at but this time was different. I could only focus on one kid because he was just that good.

I went into this game blind. I’ve been away from the major junior world for a bit now so I didn’t know who was who on the roster. I didn’t know who to look for and I didn’t know if any of these kids were drafted. What I do know is that one kid stole the show.

Mf131db750823a6f50d71d513d4fd0be2arco Rossi is a 16-year-old centre from Feldkirch, Austria.

You read that right.

Austria.

And you know what? This kid is going places.

Unbeknownst to me, Rossi was selected 18th overall in this year’s import draft by this 67s. He committed early which tells me he’s serious about his future. Picking the OHL at an early age is a hard-enough decision to make for North American skaters let alone somebody from across the pond. Commitment is half the battle.

What I saw on the ice was something I’ve seen lacking a lot in today’s junior game. One is hunger and the other is a hockey mind. Marco Rossi was the hungriest guy the ice. He never stopped from puck drop to the game ending horn. Lazy he is not a word in his vocabulary.

He created space if needed and played with his head. Always thinking. He was constantly moving, looking for any opportunity to present itself. He went hard to the net and was one of the only few on both teams who consistently got in the front of it.

It seemed to me that his hockey knowledge is vastly wise for his age. The maturity of play from this 16 year old is astounding. I mean, he still looks like a baby. Even with that white turtleneck tucked underneath.

Rossi_OTT-1024x600

At 5’9 and according to Elite Prospects, 156 pounds, Rossi just flew up and down the ice. There is no worry about cement skates here. His skating ability is right up there on the list of his greatest assets. His edges are so clean, crisp and full of speed. Don’t even get me started on his back check. Which brings me back to the hunger. His hunger for the game made everybody else look a couple speeds slower then normal. Kingston was slow to begin with so they looked like molasses out there whenever Rossi was around.

Another thing I liked about him was that he really wasn’t afraid to throw a check and follow through. So many guys don’t finish their checks these days so it was refreshing to see. There is definitely a hint of the North American style play in his game already.

Rossi clocked in the first goal of the 3-2 shootout win for the 67s. Again, Rossi made the space and the play for himself and provided quite the stick handling procedure and accurate shot. Rossi liked to shoot in this game so it will be interesting to see how he adapts in the OHL. Last season he notched 51 points in 34 games with the GCK U20 Lions in the Elite JR. A league over in Switzerland. That looks great on paper but it might be difficult to translate that into high numbers on North American soil.

Hockey prodigy’s coming out of Austria are not unheard of but they are few and far between. Austria has been a member of the International Ice Hockey Federation since 1912 when they introduced their men’s team. They haven’t claimed a medal since the men claimed bronze in 1947. They are at almost 10,000 players registered with 75 outdoor and indoor rinks in the country. Compare that with Canada who has 631,000 registered players and 8,300 outdoor and indoor rinks. You do the math.

 

 

The National Hockey League is home to a few Austrians. Thomas Vanek, Michael Grabner and Michael Raffl were likely dreamt about by a young Rossi as he skated on the rink. Is it premature to compare him to these fellow Austrian greats? I’d say yes if we were comparing styles of play. But if we’re just talking chances of making a GOOD career out of if? This early snapshot says he’s definitely on the radar. He’s already being lauded as a high pick in the 2020 draft.

What is going to help is he got picked up by a great team. Last year Ottawa was running near the bottom rungs in the standings. That’s a terrible position for the team but it’s great news for a skilled player. More ice time to go around.

I’m hoping for the best with Marco Rossi. He got me excited not only about hockey again but major junior hockey in general. Let’s see how he gets settled with the atmosphere of being on a Canadian hockey team and everything that goes with it. Hopefully his energy and determination will translate well onto the scoresheet. He is a much-needed breath of fresh air on the ice.

 

Hey, has anybody made Marco Polo/Barber Pole joke yet?? Get at it Ottawa 67s fans!!

With OHL season over, Kingston Frontenacs Sam Bennett turns his attention to the NHL Entry Draft

Although the Kingston Frontenacs surprised most and bowed out of the first round of the OHL playoffs, most would seem to call it a day on this year’s hockey season. However, for a select couple of Fronts, they now turn their attention to the National Hockey League Entry Draft taking place at the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

This is a monumental time in a junior, heck, every hockey player’s career. It can justify all the decisions that were made soundly or made in haste. Three players on the Frontenacs squad are looking at being taken by teams in the first round. Roland McKeown, Spencer Watson and superstar Sam Bennett who seems to be in the race to be taken first overall.

A native of Richmond Hill, Ontario, Bennett has been with the Frontenacs for two seasons. His resume for the past year is an impressive one. He won double gold last summer for Team Canada at both the World U18 Championship and the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament over in the Czech Republic. Returning in the fall on a high for the Frontenacs, Bennett managed to put together an impressive 24 game scoring streak before a minor injury put him out of commission for a few games. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau ranked Bennett as the top North American player to be drafted in their mid-season ranking. I’m sure that rank hasn’t changed much.

Bennett managed to become almost a two point a game player. His final point total for the 2013-2014 season saw him notch 91 points in 57 games. Pretty impressive for a lad who suffered a mid season injury. He was an essential asset to Kingston as well in their limited playoff run. In 7 games against the Peterborough Petes, Bennett notched 5 goals and 4 assists.

There’s no doubt the Sam Bennett will be drafted into the National Hockey League this summer. The question now turns to what rank and to what team. He would be an essential asset to a club like the Buffalo Sabres or the already youngster filled Edmonton Oilers. We won’t find out where the teams fall for a few more weeks.

A look at the OHL’s current top 10 scorers

The 2013-2014 Ontario Hockey League season has barely just started but out of the gate we have a few surprises popping out in terms of point leaders. The Erie Otters, Niagara IceDogs, Guelph Storm and Kingston Frontenacs keep their fire power ahead of the rest of the league and notched into the top 10. This top 10 list is up to date as of October 24th.

1. Connor Brown, Erie Otters – 29 points in 13 games. (11 goals and 18 assists)

(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL Images)
(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL Images)

A right winger out of Toronto, Ontario, Brown was selected in the 6th round of the 2012 entry draft by his hometown Maple Leafs. He’s currently in his third OHL season with Erie and is looking to be on pace to be a point a game player. His strong hockey sense keeps him in the loop to set up teammates on promising plays. One more year in junior should help him tremendously as he’ll most likely turn pro next year.

2. Brendan Perlini, Niagara IceDogs – 26 points in 12 games. (12 goals and 14 assists)

(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL images)
(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL images)

A native of Sault Ste. Marie,  Ontario, but born in Guilford, England,  this left winger will be eligible for next year’s NHL draft. Currently in his third OHL season, (second with Niagara, first OHL season with Barrie.) he actually spent some of his early junior career in England with the Guilford Flames of the EPL. He was cut from this year’s Team Canada squad at the Ivan Hlinka tournament but don’t count him out. A hard shot keeps him on the scouts radar. I see him being selected in at least the top 20 at the draft.

3. Carter Verhaeghe, Niagara IceDogs – 25 points in 12 games. (10 goals and 15 assists)

(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL Images)
(Photo: TerryWilson/OHL Images)

Sitting one point below his fellow teammate Perlini, Veraeghe is in his third season with the IceDogs and was drafted in the third round by Toronto last year. (Catch the pattern here? Toronto is deep with prospects. Could end up scary.) Veraeghe ended up being fourth in points with the IceDogs last season and stuck a gold medal under his belt with Team Canada’s Under 18’s. An even better year this year could do tremendous things for his professional career. His stock keeps rising and Toronto could possibly have a secret weapon on their hands. Continue reading “A look at the OHL’s current top 10 scorers”

Kingston Frontenacs remain only undefeated OHL team

fronts-logoAfter last night’s battle between the Soo Greyhounds and Kingston Frontenacs, only one team left with the title of being the Ontario Hockey League’s only undefeated squad.

Over 3000 fans took in the big K’s game at the K-Rock Centre and it proved to be an outstanding matchup. The opportunity of being able to watch not only the power-packed Frontenacs but the finesse of Carolina Hurricanes’ Greyhounds prospect Sergei Tolchinsky and Edmonton Oilers prospect Darnell Nurse was a treat in itself.

Frontenacs goaltender Matt Mahalak kept the black and gold in tight the whole game. He earned himself the first star and notched an impressive win under his belt. The story of the evening was not even about the Kingston Trio of Sam Bennett, Roland McKeown and Spencer Watson, but that of Finnish sensation Henri Ikonen.

Ikonen. (Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Ikonen. (Photo: Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

Ikonen returned to the lineup last week after being away at the Tampa Bay Lightning training camp. He proved that the teachings under Yzerman and company paid off as he scored his second and third goals of the year in the win. New Jersey Devils prospect Ryan Kujawinski added assists on both of Ikonen’s goals which prove the depth caliber on this red hot Kingston roster.

The question turns now to how long will the Frontenacs be able to keep up this undefeated streak. This upcoming weekend is another home stand when the 3rd place Central Division Sudbury Wolves invade the K-Rock and then two nights later, the 3rd place Mid-West Division and stacked Guelph Storm come to town. It won’t be an easy 4 points that’s for sure but with the talent and depth on this squad, it can be done.

Ryan Kujawinski, Darcy Greenaway lead Kingston Frontenacs to victory in home opener

Ryan Kujawinski. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Ryan Kujawinski. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

After throttling the Peterborough Petes by a score of 11-4 on Thursday night during the season opener, the Kingston Frontenacs didn’t let up steam for their home opener on Friday.  After giving a moment of silence in honour of Acadie Bathurst Titan prospect, Jordan Boyd who passed away on the ice last month, it was time for to usher in another Kingston Frontenacs season.

A historical night for their opponents, the North Bay Battalion who played their season opener as residents of North Bay once again after the OHL had left the city for so many years. They returned however, not to form.

In front of a passionate crowd of 4412, the Kingston Frontenacs put on a show for the hometown fans. New Jersey Devils prospect Ryan Kujawinski and Darcy Greenaway led the show with two goals each. Kujawinski is such a joy to watch, great hands and stick handling ability. He will be within New Jersey’s line up in the next few years.

Greenaway. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Greenaway. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)

After scoring a hat trick in Peterborough the night before, Greenaway came back to Kingston and notched two in the home opener. Now with 5 goals on the season, Greenaway now leads the team in points. Remember, it’s still early in the season.

2014 draft prospects, Sam Bennett, Spencer Watson and Roland McKeown were a force on the ice as the Frontenacs seemed to over power the Battalion. The big lads used their body to their advantage against the somewhat smaller North Bay squad.

All in all, it was great to see the K-Rock Centre rocking again. An amazing and optimistic atmosphere filled the arena and made it a great game to watch. Kingston’s back folks. Hope the OHL is ready.

Kingston is back on the ice September 27th when head to Niagara and take on the Ice Dogs. Puck drop is 7pm.

Kingston Frontenacs acquire Corey Pawley from London Knights

(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)
(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)

The Kingston Frontenacs are not fooling around this season. General Manager Doug Gilmour announced today that the team has acquired intense forward Corey Pawley from the London Knights. In return the Knights will pick up the Frontenacs fourth round selection at the 2015 OHL Priority Selection draft.

The 18 year old Sarnia native suited up for 27 games with the Knights last season and earned himself 7 points with 3 goals and 4 assists. The low point score doesn’t phase Gilmour however. According to the Frontenacs media release, Gilmour is thrilled.  “Corey plays with a lot of intensity in his game,” said Gilmour. “He’s competitive, with a lot of speed, and an offensively creative player. We’re excited to add him to our roster and can’t wait to see him at Training Camp.”

Ikonen. (Photo credit: OHL Images)
Ikonen. (Photo credit: OHL Images)

The Frontencs are bolstering their line up to help already famed players Roland McKeown, Spencer Watson and Sam Bennett. Other players to look out for is along with Pawley, is Finnish sensation Henri Ikonen. Ikonen was selected in the 6th round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft by Steve Yzerman and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The upcoming exciting season for the Kingston Frontenacs will start next Thursday, August 29th as training camps are set to open up. On-ice scrimmages will be open to the public on both Friday August 30th and Saturday August 31st.

Kingston open up their 2013-2014 OHL campaign on the road in Peterborough as they take on the Petes. That game is set on Thursday, September 19th and puck drops at 7:30.

Highlighting the Kingston Trio: Frontenacs’ McKeown, Bennett and Watson

fronts-logoThere are a few times in every team’s history where a full roster just seems to come together. Years of drafts picks and scouting seem to pay off. Coaches direct. Players gel. Goalies become brick walls.

This year could turn into just that for the Kingston Frontenacs. A historical year where everything just goes right. After going through a rebuilding year that only amassed 19 wins, the Frontenacs picked up 24 picks in 2012’s OHL draft. Those picks have become almost a full roster. A roster of players centered around a core of three; two forwards and a defenceman. 3 U18 World Champions.

(Photo: thescoutingreport.org)
(Photo: thescoutingreport.org)

Defenceman Roland McKeown was selected second overall in the 2012 OHL Priority draft. At 6’1”, he is a towering presence on the blue line; a Drew Doughty type player if you will. Collecting 29 points in 61 games, he was named to the OHL First All-Rookie Team. Now entering his second year with the black and gold he will enter with a gold medal under his belt after winning with U18 Team Canada back in April of this year. International competition experience can never hurt.
 

(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

Left winger Sam Bennett has an incredible eye for hockey. His hockey sense is what makes his game excel. Sharing his rookie year with McKeown, Bennett notched 40 points in 60 games leading him to be a part of the OHL Second All-Rookie Team. He not only comes into his second year with an U18 gold medal; he comes in with two. Within four months he’s been an U18 World Champion twice.

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

 

Then there’s Spencer Watson. An explosive and dynamite forward from London, Ontario. A sharp shooter with a keen eye for knowing just where to put the puck. He led the U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament in scoring for Team Canada while capturing his own gold medal.

 

All three players have had one year of playing time together to get used to each other on the ice and started to really gel at the end of last season. With Bennett and Watson playing on one Team Canada squad while McKeown and Bennett played on the other, there’s no reason to not expect exciting things from these three once the puck drops in September.

With Coach Todd Gill entering his third season and his second with the boys, they will already know what to expect from each other. I won’t be surprised to see a long post season run in the Limestone City. It’s time for optimism.

Get ready Ontario Hockey League. The Frontenacs are back to prominence.

Spencer Watson‘s Two Goal Performance lifts Canada over Slovakia

(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)
(Photo credit: Terry Wilson/OHL Images)

The 2013 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament opened up with exhibition games on Saturday in Piestany, Slovakia. The crowd was in for a treat at Zimny Stadion as Kingston Frontanacs forward Spencer Watson put on a dazzling display to help Team Canada secure its first exhibition win.

Watson opened the scoring eight minutes into the first period with help from Jake Virtanen and Ryan Pilon. The first period proved to be all Canada as 5 minutes later Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle added another. Up 2-0 heading into the second period, the Canadians were putting on a show.

The Slovakians however, had something to say about that. Four minutes into the second period, Ladislav Romancik cut the Canadians lead in half and it seemed that they were going to make a game of it. Team Canada seemed to not stay out of the penalty box as they took two early on.

Spencer Watson sealed the deal for Canada in the third period as he notched his second of the game. Dal Colle picked up another assist to the goal adding to both players impressive first game performance. Julio Billia and Mason MacDonald shared both goaltending duties stopping 17 shots. Slovakia was out shot as the Canadians threw 50 at their net minder.

Team Canada’s next exhibition game will take place this coming Monday, August 5th as the Czechs welcome into their city of Breclev. Czech Republic should give the Canadians a bit more trouble this time around.

Three Kingston Frontenacs make final Team Canada cut

Hockey Canada announced its final roster for the upcoming 2013 U18 Memorial of Ivan Hlinka tournament and all three Kingston Frontenacs selections have made the final roster.

Hockey_Canada_LThis year’s tournament, also known as the U18 World Cup, will take place at the beginning of August in Breclav, Czech Republic and Pietsany, Slovakia. Team Canada has been dominant coming home with gold the past 5 years. This year’s team is ready to make it 6. They open up the tournament with their first exhibition game August 3rd against host nation Slovakia.

Roland McKeown, Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson impressed the Team Canada brass at exhibition games over the past few days. The games showcased the best the Canadian Hockey League has to offer. Watson exploded in the 3rd period with 2 goals in Saturday night’s game and added 2 assists Monday afternoon. All three showcased there tremendous skills and hockey sense to help the big red machine as they head to the Czech Republic.

Upon returning to North America, all three will suit up into the black and gold of the Kingston Frontenacs as training camp opens up on August 29th. Pumped and still in hockey mode, the three will be eager to get back on Ontario Hockey League ice. The Frontenacs will be a strong team this year and will be looking to make a long trip into the post-season.

Team Canada’s roster also includes hard shooting Aaron Ekblad from the Barrie Colts and another strong forward Jared McCann from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds. 2014 will shape up to exciting draft year.

Kingston Frontenac Spencer Watson Impressive at U18 Camp

The past week Hockey Canada was holding a selection camp to form a team to head to Breclav, Czech Republic and Piestany, Slovakia to compete in the U18 2013 Ivan Hlinka tournament. A total of 3 Kingston Frontenac players made the selection camp and were proving themselves successful.

(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)
(Photo: kingstonfrontenacs.com)

Saturday night they played a Red versus White exhibition game at the MasterCard Centre in Toronto, Ontario. Showcasing some of the best talent the Canadian Hockey League has to offer, it was Kingston’s Spencer Watson who blew up with two goals in a 4 goal third period to put the White on top over the Red 7-4.

Watson is one a select few the scouts are keeping an eye on in this upcoming draft year. His on ice hockey sense and eye for the puck is something of astonishment. This upcoming season will be his second one in the OHL. He’s already seen international action as well having played in the U17 World Championships. In 5 games there, he put up 7 points, 5 goals and 2 assists. Standing at 5’10, Watson has more time to fill out and become more dominant with age. His twin brother Matthew, also suited up for the Frontenacs, playing in 8 games last year.

www.kingstonfrontenacs.com
http://www.kingstonfrontenacs.com

Kingston’s Roland McKeown also put up a goal in the win and Sam Bennett stayed off the score sheet. Watson and McKeown should be no brainers to apart of this U18 squad. With Bennett it will be a close call but no reason to feel like he shouldn’t be a part of them.

The Kingston Frontenacs are going to show up to play this OHL season. The rest of the league better be ready for them.