It took a couple of days for Vancouver Canucks’ 2012 first-round draft pick Brendan Gaunce to get over the surreal experience of suiting up with guys that he had previously only seen as pixels or images on a TV screen. But it’s all part of the growing process for the 19-year-old centre and will help in his continued development as one of the OHL’s top players.
As a member of the London Knights, Dallas Stars’ draft pick Remi Elie had a guaranteed shot at the Memorial Cup this season. But the opportunity to play a much bigger role on a team much farther removed from championship contention has found the Green Valley, ON native suiting up in the black, gold, and red of the Belleville Bulls.
His father’s Jamaican, his mother’s Chilean, he speaks Spanish, has a dark complexion, and bears an Asian last name across the back of his jersey (thanks to a Chinese-born great grandfather who married a Jamaican woman). The Windsor Spitfires' Josh Ho-Sang stands out in a predominantly white sport, but he said that he hopes his may be the face of the game’s future.
In 2010, the year he was drafted 47th overall by the Los Angeles Kings, Tyler Toffoli scored 79 points. Over the next two seasons Toffoli would go on to earn 208 more points in the Ontario Hockey League, including 108 points in a 50-50 season in 2010-11. A bright future was set for Toffoli as he graduated from juniors in 2012, with his sights on the NHL.
The scene: The Prudential Center in Newark, NJ. The players: a 27-year-old ‘franchise’ goaltender and an 18-year-old London, ON-born forward who was coming off of an OHL playoff coming-out party and second-straight Memorial Cup appearance. And while the names Cory Schneider and Bo Horvat will long be linked together thanks to a Draft Day trade, the ninth-overall selection of the 2013 NHL Draft knows this will not be the climax of his story.