Gerrior sees huge growth through 150 games with Barber Poles
It happened a little later than he would have hoped after COVID-19 delayed the start of his OHL career, but Will Gerrior surpassed the 150-game milestone with the Ottawa 67’s in Wednesday’s School Day Game.
Drafted in the ninth round of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, Gerrior’s path to the league wasn’t straightforward. He had to earn his way onto the roster, which he did for the OHL’s return season in 2021-22, but the battle had only just begun.
It took until mid-November for Gerrior to score his first point – a secondary assist. He went into the Christmas break with two points, yet to score his first goal. He admitted later in the season that hockey had become a little bit stressful, as he squeezed his stick a little too tight looking for a goal.
In his time off, however, he took part in 20 on 20 games on the outdoor rink at Fisher Park with his buddies, which he says helped settle him down, and even boost his confidence. The pressure was off, and he was having fun, and before long, he realized that should be how the game is played, even at the OHL level.
When he returned to the big stage of The Arena at TD Place, his game took off to the tune of eight more goals, and another 10 assists in the second half. Gerrior had become a different player, seemingly overnight.
Fast-forward to now, Gerrior has earned the nickname “The Generator” thanks to his relentless work ethic and ability to turn the most mundane scenario into a legit goal-scoring opportunity. In a league designed to help develop kids into good young men, Gerrior has seen plenty of growth in a plethora of areas.
“I started my career at 17, and I’m now 19,” Gerrior said. “I can for sure see progression, not only in my game, but in my physical development, as well. It’s cool to look back.”
In a world where such a small percentage of youth are good enough to make it to junior hockey, 150 games is a milestone Gerrior is immensely proud of. The pot was sweetened for the Ottawa native spending the moment at the Canadian Tire Centre, a place he grew up watching some of his favourite players.
“It was honestly pretty cool, I always loved those games growing up,” Gerrior said. “I used to go all the time as a kid, so I remember being in those seats enjoying it. Playing in that atmosphere for my 150th was really cool, especially being from Ottawa.”
Time in the OHL is finite, and it goes by quickly. Many players leave and remember it as the best time of their lives. Some win championships, some win scoring titles, but everyone leaves with stories they’ll tell their grandkids one day.
Whether it’s his 28 goals to date, his 96 penalty minutes, his game-winning goal in the Soo earlier this year, or the friendships he’s made along the way, Gerrior has no shortage of such tales. He has seen the ups and downs, from finishing seventh in the East and being swept in the first round, to winning 51 games, the most in franchise history.
Nothing stands out more than his first game. Skating out onto the ice at the Leon’s Centre in Kingston, and looking across the ice to see Shane Wright – a true ‘welcome to the OHL’ moment.
“The biggest thing for me was my first game,” Gerrior said. “Playoffs last year are another, but my first game was shocking. It was such a big change from where I played before, especially with the COVID year.”
Up to six goals this season, Gerrior is finally starting to see his offensive role increase. The confidence he now wields has never been as obvious as when he scored a highlight reel goal last Friday night, against the Oshawa Generals.
He stole the puck, pulled a spin-o-rama to beat the defender, and then bested the netminder with a smooth finish. Goal-of-the-year material.
“That’s something I have been working toward,” Gerrior said. “I never would have tried anything like it in my rookie year, so for me, it shows how much I’ve developed, whether it’s mental, physical, or my skills.”