Vets, prospects shine on ice
NORTH BAY, Ont. — Coach Ryan Oulahen is on record that he wants veterans to lead by example at the North Bay Battalion’s Ontario Hockey League training camp, and several did just that Tuesday.
No one looked better than the forward trio of Pasquale Zito, Brice Cooke and Anthony Romani for Team White in the second intrasquad game of the day, although Team Green countered well with Liam Arnsby, Justin Ertel and Jacob Therrien.
Cooke, acquired Monday in a trade with the Mississauga Steelheads, saw his first camp game action in the second matchup. Originally chosen by the Niagara IceDogs in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, he joined Mississauga last season after scoring 18 goals and earning 10 assists for 28 points as a rookie with Niagara in 2021-22.
“We’ve had a lot of insight into Brice and his background,” noted general manager Adam Dennis. “Obviously, (assistant GM) John Winstanley knows him quite well, having coached him in minor midget. With Ty (Nelson) and Dom (DiVincentiis) having played with him, we felt that this was definitely a risk that we had to take.
“He’s a guy who was a second-round pick, and we agreed with that. He scored 18 goals at 17, which is no easy feat, and we feel there’s a lot left in a guy like that. He skates well, he’s a big body and he’s got some good skill, so we feel he’s going to complement our group nicely, and the change of scenery is something we hope can help him a lot.”
Dennis, who said camp play has spurred optimism for the future after two consecutive Central Division titles, pointed to two forwards who debuted well in camp a year ago and now look to be on the verge of contributing at the OHL level.
“I think that two great examples are Nolan Laird and Lirim Amidovski, who came in last year as an eighth- and ninth-round pick and really put themselves on the map. They made an impact and they made sure that they were guys that we had to watch really closely going into the season. You see them both take it into Game 1, and I think they were both very impressive.”
Assistant coaches Scott Wray and Bill Houlder took the reins for the 60-minute intrasquad games, Wray directing White to a pair of victories while Houlder handled Green. Oulahen observed from the stands.
“I just like to watch during these games here and see some guys kind of jump out at me in a positive regard and start to map things out in my head,” said Oulahen, who acknowledged that he was impressed with camp newcomers.
“Our scouts do an unbelievable job in some of these young players coming in. Holy cow, are there some guys who have some talent, some speed, skill and everything that you’re just excited to get your hands on.”
Five games are to be played before the camp, which opened Monday, breaks at midday Thursday. Games Wednesday start at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with free admission to Memorial Gardens. The North Bay Food Bank has bins set up for donations.
SECOND GAME RECAP
Romani scored three goals to pace White to a 7-4 win as goaltenders Mike McIvor of White and Green’s James Meredith each went all the way. Paul Christopoulos had an empty-net goal for White.
White: Charlie Larocque, Mike McIvor, Andrew Lanni, Paul Christopoulos, Tnias Mathurin, Declan Gallivan, Carson Ricci, Davis Anello, Brice Cooke, Dylan Richter, Chase Thompson, Jesse Lefebvre, Anthony Romani, Kayden Buller, Stepan Chukharev, Reyth Smith, Landen Stevens, Caleb Dawson, Stef Forgione, Pasquale Zito.
Green: Charlie Robertson, James Meredith, Ryan Fairbairn, Matthew Darrigan, Tanner Lawson, Hunter Martell, Brayden Turley, Michael Kopcok, Jacob Therrien, Justin Ertel, Liam Arnsby, Kaedyn Long, Beckett Ewart, Ewan McChesney, Nolan Laird, Deke Osterhout, Adam Smeeton, Nate Gravelle, Brendan Boring, Ilya Chmelevski.
White goals: Romani 3, Cooke, Zito, Stevens, Christopoulos.
Green goals: Smeeton, Ertel, McChesney, Fairbairn.
FIRST GAME RECAP
Jesse Lefebvre’s second goal broke a third-period tie and sparked a four-goal eruption that sent White to an 8-4 victory. Amidovski had three goals and Stef Forgione two for White. McIvor got the win, allowing one goal in 20 minutes.
White: Charlie Larocque, Mike McIvor, Wyatt Kennedy, Andrew Lanni, Declan Gallivan, Carson Ricci, Davis Anello, Alex Cajkovic, Dylan Richter, Chase Thompson, Jesse Lefebvre, Dalyn Wakely, Owen Van Steensel, Stepan Chukharev, Reyth Smith, Landen Stevens, Caleb Dawson, Stef Forgione, Chase MacQueen-Spence, Lirim Amidovski.
Green: Charlie Robertson, James Meredith, Ryan Fairbairn, Matthew Darrigan, Tanner Lawson, Hunter Martell, Michael Kopcok, Tyson Rismond, Zach Wilson, Kaedyn Long, Beckett Ewart, Ewan McChesney, Carter Kostuch, Nolan Laird, Deke Osterhout, Ethan Procyszyn, Brett Bouchard, Adam Smeeton, Nate Gravelle, Brendan Boring, Ilya Chmelevski.
White goals: Amidovski 3, Lefebvre 2, Forgione 2, Van Steensel.
Green goals: Boring 2, Laird, Procyszyn.