Photo - (From left) Plymouth Whalers assistant general manager Brian Sommariva welcomes Zach Bratina to Plymouth. Photo credit - Pete Krupsky
PLYMOUTH – Plymouth Whalers general manager and head coach Mike Vellucci announced the signing 16-year-old left wing Zach Bratina, who was taken by the Whalers in the first round (19th overall) of the 2012 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Bratina will attend high school at the Plymouth-Canton Education Park next fall.
“It’s definitely a relief in signing the contract,” Bratina said. “I’m excited to start the season and couldn’t be happier with any other team.”
Bratina – 6-foot-1 and 163 pounds, from Lindsay, ON - scored 22 goals with 21 assists for 43 points and 60 PIM’s last season for the Central Ontario Wolves minor midget team.
“Zach has very good individual skill and an impressive scoring touch,” said Plymouth assistant general manager Brian Sommariva. “We are excited to have a player of his caliber choose the OHL and Plymouth.”
Bratina, with parents Dan and Karen, attended Plymouth’s Rookie Orientation last weekend at Compuware Arena. Bratina scored two goals in two scrimmages during the Orientation, playing with a smooth skating stride and going to the high traffic areas of the offensive zone.
“Zach’s a very smart hockey player. The puck really follows him around the ice," said Darrell Woodley, Director of Central Scouting for the OHL. "He has good vision and the ability to score, coming out of the corners or in tight around the net.”
After being selected by the Whalers in April, Bratina attended a couple of Plymouth playoff games – one in Kitchener and the other at Compuware Arena. He was introduced to the crowd at Compuware Arena before game 5 of the Western Conference semi-finals against Kitchener.
“It was a good experience,” Bratina said about the pre-scouting of his new team and meeting the Plymouth fans. “Plymouth looked really good last year (47-18-2-1, West Division Champions) and hopefully, we’ll be good again this year. The home crowd in Plymouth was really loud. I think I’m going to like that this year.”
Bratina patterns his game after Detroit Red Wing center Pavel Datsyuk.
Bratina is expected to report to Whalers training camp at the end of August.
Earlier this spring, the Whalers signed 17-year-old center Ryan Hartman, who was selected by Plymouth in the fifth round (95th overall) of the 2010 OHL Priority Selection.
The Whalers made the playoffs last season for the 21st consecutive year – a current OHL record – and captured their 10th West Division title over 22 years. Plymouth expects to be in thick of the Western Conference race again in 2012-13.