67’s prospects: Giusti leading OMHA GAA charge, Hill earning high praise & more
For those fans in tune with the Ottawa 67’s, the health of the club’s future can be equally as important as what happens today. An emphasis on drafting and developing has created numerous examples of late-round picks playing with the Barber Poles, many of whom have spent a year playing junior or minor hockey elsewhere before making the jump.
Here, you’ll find a guide to the pipeline, and hear about who is making noise in their pursuit of the next level.
Giusti setting sights on Telus Cup
Modern goaltending places importance on size, but Daniel Giusti stands contrary to that trend, listed at five-foot-seven on his OHL Priority Selection profile. With the Ajax/Pickering Raiders of the OHMA U18 ‘AAA,’ Giusti tops the charts among all goaltenders with a goals-against-average of just 1.31.
With a 29-2-1-0 record, the Raiders sit at the top of the OMHA standings, 14 points clear of the second-place Markham Waxers, partially thanks to Giusti.
“He makes up for his lack of size with aggressiveness and agility,” said 67’s Scout Tristan Whitley. “He is a high-end puck tracker, and he gives his team a chance to win every game. His current goal is the Telus Cup in Sydney, Nova Scotia.”
Prior to the Barber Poles selecting Giusti with the 302nd overall pick last spring, he held a .937 save percentage and a 2.22 GAA with the Mississauga Rebels U16 en route to a 2-1 record in the OHL Cup.
Hill turning aside shooters
Like Giusti, Aidan Hill boasts a GAA of under two, currently sitting in ninth in the Alliance with a mark of 1.94. The Huron-Perth Lakers have a 15-11-4-1 record, good for fifth in the league, with a heavy reliance on their goaltender to get them there.
“He’s putting up big numbers in the Alliance on a middle-of-the-pack team,” Whitley said. “He’s a reason that team gets a lot of their wins. His pace and confidence have improved since training camp, and he’s continuing to work on his edgework. He’s looking to make a big impact in the playoffs, and he wants to play junior next season.”
Hill was selected by the 67’s in the 12th round of the 2023 OHL Priority Selection.
Brassard doing the little things
You wouldn’t be able to tell from stats alone, but Ethan Brassard has been playing, and playing pretty well, at that. The Brampton native has been in the range of a point-per-game with the Toronto Marlboros this season, scoring 18 goals and 39 points, standing at a plus-17 on the year.
“Brassard is a chippy two-way forward with a nose for the net,” Whitley said. “Despite his size (five-foot-nine), he can find strong sides of the puck and compete in the dirty areas. He was putting up close to a point-per-game at Christmas time.”
Brassard was the 67’s 10th-round draft choice in the spring’s OHL Priority Selection.
Houben munching minutes
The Komoka Kings have struggled this season, winning just six of their 41 games, but Zach Houben has benefitted from the extra ice time. Scoring three goals and 11 points in 29 games has been a good start to his junior career, but what makes the Stratford, Ontario native intriguing is size.
Standing at six-foot-five, Houben impressed the 67’s brass at training camp, earning himself a scholarship and development agreement. He was reassigned at the start of the year to continue his forward progress.
“He may be the biggest prospect in junior ‘B’ physically,” Whitley said. “He’s getting a lot of ice time, where his physicality has improved. His goal is to come and compete for a routine lineup spot with the 67’s next season.”
Drafted in the fifth round of the most recent draft, Houben made his OHL debut on December 30th against the Kingston Frontenacs.
Barnett a steady force
The 67’s took some swings on American talent in the most recent draft, including Asher Barnett, a big-bodied defenceman from Wilmette, Illinois. Playing with the US National Team Development Program, Barnett has five points, all of which have been assists, in 20 games, but plays a complete defensive game.
Despite a previous commitment to the University of Michigan of the NCAA, the Barber Poles continue to track Barnett’s development with keen interest.
“He’s physically mature,” Whitley said. “Barnett is a good skater who plays a two-way game, and he’s really physical, players shy away from him. He’s one of the most well-rounded defencemen at his age in the country.”
Abe Barnett, Asher’s younger brother, is OHL draft-eligible this spring.