By Terry Doyle
The Ottawa 67’s are looking to take a run at their third straight OHL East Division title this season. It would mark the second time in the past decade the 67’s have won the division three straight years. They accomplished a similar feat from 2002 through 2004.
While this year’s club is led by Los Angeles Kings prospect Tyler Toffoli and Ottawa Senators pick Shane Prince, there are other big names NHL teams have not had the chance to draft yet.
Defenceman Cody Ceci is in his third year in the OHL, but his late-1993 birthday results in 2012 being his NHL draft year. He has parlayed his point-a-game pace from the blueline this year into an invite to the Team Canada selection camp for the World Juniors.
“I think I had a pretty good start to the season,” said the Orleans product. “I just need to do whatever it takes for our team to win every game. Sometimes that means chipping in offensively, other games I just have to play solid defence.”
Ceci is rated tenth in the Ontario Hockey League in NHL Central Scouting’s initial ratings for the draft, and he recently took part in the Subway Super Series.
After opening the season in first place, Ottawa has suffered through some injury woes and are now battling Belleville for the division lead.
“We had a really good start this season. We ran into some injury trouble, ever since then teams are catching up to us so we just need to get some guys back and keep on track and keep our team in first,” Ceci added.
Meanwhile, NHL scouts will have to wait another year to get a chance at Sean Monahan. The 67’s forward entered this weekend with an impressive 41 points in 23 games, but is not eligible until the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. By the time next year’s draft comes around, Monahan feels he’ll be used to the spotlight.
“Last year I think there might have been a little bit more pressure playing with two overagers (Thomas Nesbitt and Cody Lindsay) on the second line. I really had to step up to prove that I could earn my ice time on that line and stay up there,” explained Monahan.
“I think I came into this year with more confidence and getting more opportunity playing on the first line.”
Much of the Ottawa roster this season is made up of returning players, providing instant chemistry right from the start of the season. All of the club’s Top 10 scorers spent time in the nation’s capital last season.
“I think we were able to carry on from last season,” said Monahan. “We had a lot of the guys back. Just a great group of guys, it’s just such a big help for all the new guys coming in and some of the younger guys.”