Top Prospects Hayton and Sandin proud to be part of something special
It’s no secret the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds have been the cream of the crop this season, and two rising stars are more than happy to share their experiences in red and white.
Teammates Barrett Hayton and Rasmus Sandin will remain in red Thursday night, teaming up on Team Cherry at the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in Guelph before a mass of NHL scouts and general managers.
“It’s been quite an experience,” said the 17-year-old Hayton of his journey as an OHL sophomore on the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League. “Winning is fun and I’ve been fortunate to be able to play on a team with a lot of great players.”
A storied franchise that produced the likes of Wayne Gretzky and Ron Francis among others, the Greyhounds have made some new entries in their franchise record book this season.
Currently 37-5-2-1, the Hounds won 23 consecutive games from October 28th to December 30th and remained undefeated in regulation over a span of 29, coming within two games of an OHL record.
“A couple of the guys joke about it, but I don’t think I had a lot to do with it,” said Swedish defenceman Rasmus Sandin who lost his first game in a Hounds uniform but proceeded to help his new club win the next 23. “Everyone on the team brings something and makes a difference. That’s what’s special about it.”
Sandin, who started the year playing against grown men in the Swedish Elite League, decided to join the Greyhounds in late October and just a few months later is one of a handful of Swedish players to ever compete in the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, an opportunity he’s been looking forward to.
“It’s great to be here and it’s awesome that I can have a teammate like Barrett here to experience all of it too. We are both proud to represent the Greyhounds.”
Though he speaks fluent English and has quickly adapted to the furious forechecking on smaller North American ice surfaces, Sandin was quick to acknowledge a few names in Sault Ste. Marie for assisting him in his transition to the OHL.
“I think my coaches Drew Bannister and Joe Cirella who are both former defencemen have helped me a lot,” he said. “When you get to be able to play with Conor Timmins you learn a lot too. He is effective in any situation and he sees plays before they happen which is a special talent.”
While Timmins and Boris Katchouk won gold with Canada at the World Juniors, Greyhounds leading scorer Morgan Frost has been dangerous offensively, racking up 45 assists along with 27 goals and 72 points in 44 games. The Philadelphia Flyers first round draft pick drew praise from his younger teammate Hayton.
“He’s incredibly talented, he has a knack for finding guys and he sees the ice really well. He led the league in points for awhile and his play this season has had a lot to do with our team being as good as it is.”
The Greyhounds tie the 2000-08 Plymouth Whalers for the longest string of consecutive seasons sending at least one player to the Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, doing so for a ninth straight year. Past names in that stretch include current NHLers in two-time Stanley Cup champion Matt Murray of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Darnell Nurse of the Edmonton Oilers and Jared McCann of the Florida Panthers.
Hayton and Sandin hit the ice at the Sleeman Centre in Guelph as two of 18 OHL players competing in the highly anticipated contest.
Be sure to catch the action coast-to-coast on Sportsnet at 7:00pm ET/4:00pm PT.