While no members of the Great North Midget League’s Majors were taken in Saturday’s 2019 OHL Priority Selection draft, one player with a Timmins connection did hear his name called.
With the 180th overall selection, in the ninth round, the Soo Greyhounds chose Mississauga Reps forward Rhys Chiddenton.
If that name sounds familiar, it is because the 5-10, 155-pound Campbellville native appeared in four regular season games (4, 2-2-4, 0) and six playoff games (6, 2-0-2, 0) with the Timmins Rock as an affiliate player.
Those would certainly be impressive statistics even if Chiddenton wasn’t a 15 year old at the time.
Information on Chiddenton’s Minor Midget GTHL season with the Reps is limited, but he did score five goals and add six assists during the regular season.
Exactly where Chiddenton will suit up for the 2019-20 campaign remains up in the air at this point.
Being selected in the ninth round of the 2019 OHL Priority Selection draft doesn’t guarantee he will be wearing the red and white of the Greyhounds.
The Soo selected four forwards ahead of him on Saturday and they have 14 forwards eligible to return in 2019-20.
In an interview shortly after Chiddenton joined the Rock, he described the different between Junior ‘A’ hockey and ‘AAA’ Minor Midget: “It is more intense and the game is faster, but the guys really put the puck on your stick a lot better. Everything flows better.”
As one might expect, the left-shot forward was a little bit nervous his first couple of games in the maroon, gold and white and the Rock.
“I had a few butterflies in my stomach my first couple of shifts,” he said.
“Other than that, it was pretty good.”
Chiddenton’s first two games in a Rock uniform were against the Rapids in French River and he had a couple of familiar faces in the crowd cheering him on throughout the contest.
“My dad (Ryan) and my grandpa (Ken) were in the stands,” he said.
“They were really thrilled. My dad played hockey up to Junior ‘A’ (Burlington Cougars), while my grandpa just played goalie for fun. When I was little, I would go out and shoot on him.”
Speed and skill with the puck are the two things that led to Chiddenton’s success with the Rock.
“I am a goal scorer, but also a play-maker,” he said.
Growing up, Chiddenton’s favourite team was the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I have been a fan pretty much since the time I was born,” he said.
“If there is one player I try to pattern my game after, however, it would be Alexander Ovechkin.”
Not a bad choice given the Washington Capitals star once again led the NHL this season with 51 regular-season goals and now has 658 career tallies.
“I really like how he plays a physical game in addition to being a goal scorer and a play-maker,” Chiddenton said.
His transition to Junior ‘A’ hockey at the end of the season was made easier by the fact the Rock iced three 16 year olds — forward Keegan McMullen and blue-liners Owen Shier and Carson Burlington — throughout the year.
“Obviously, I saw the young guns were doing pretty good,” Chiddenton said.
“I think I am capable of doing the same thing.”
The 15 year old was excited to be part of an impressive playoff push for the Rock.
“It was a great way to finish off my minor midget season,” Chiddenton said.
Rock captain Derek Seguin — who also left home at 15 to pursue his hockey career — took Chiddenton under his wing and was quite happy to hear he had been drafted by the Greyhounds.
“I called him right after I heard,” Seguin said.
“I can relate with what he was going through this season. I had some long chats with his dad and him as well about what he is looking for in the future … just trying to give as much advice as I could.
“He invited me to go train with him during the summer and I am super proud of the kid. He is an unbelievable hockey player. He has a great hockey IQ and he really works hard.
“He was arguably one of our best forwards in the playoffs as a 15 year old, so that just kind of goes to show you the extent of his talent.
“I can’t say enough about him. He is a great kid and he is really happy to be drafted into the Soo organization.
“I wish him all the best going forward.”
Like everybody in the Rock organization, Seguin will be pulling for Chiddenton to make the Greyhounds’ roster this fall.
With two years of Junior ‘A’ eligibility left, however, the Timmins native would be just as happy to see him back in the maroon, gold and white this fall.
“For sure,” Seguin said.
“For 16 year olds, it is tough to make an OHL roster. They usually only take their top couple of draft picks.
“Players usually benefit from a year or two in the Junior ‘A’ ranks.
“Obviously, I wish him the best, but if he doesn’t make it the Rock will welcome him back with open arms.”
While there were no Majors chosen in Saturday’s 2019 OHL Priority Selection draft, a number of GNML stars did hear their names called:
• North Bay Trappers goalie Benjamin Gaudreau was taken seventh overall by the Sarnia Sting in the first round;
• Soo Minor Thunderbirds right defenceman Jack Matier was selected 21st overall by the Ottawa 67s in the first round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Chase Stillman (son of OHL Wolves coach Corey Stillman) was selected 25th overall by the Sudbury Wolves in the second round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Max McCue was taken 34th overall by the London Knights in the second round;
• Soo Minor Thunderbirds left defenceman Tylar Dunbar was selected 44th overall by the Flint Firebirds in the third round;
•Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Zacharie Giroux was taken 57th overall by the Flint Firebirds in the third round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Mitchell Martin was selected 81st overall by the Kitchener Rangers in the fourth round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves right defenceman Joshua Kavanagh was taken 93rd overall by the Peterborough Petes in the fifth round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Cameron Walker was selected 164th overall by the Kingston Canadians in the ninth round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Devon Savignac was taken 171st overall by the North Bay Battalion in the ninth round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves left defenceman Chris Innes was selected 229th overall by the Sarnia Sting in the 12th round;
• Sudbury Minor Wolves forward Bradley Brunet was taken 259th overall by the Niagara Ice Dogs in the 13th round;
• North Bay Minor Trappers goalie Owen Wray was selected 291st overall by the North Bay Battalion in the 15th round;
• Soo Minor Thunderbirds right defenceman Stephen Pszeniczny was taken 299th overall by the Niagara Ice Dogs in the 15th round.