Year in Review: The Rookies
The 2022-23 season saw several young rookies break out of their shell and shine in the Steelheads lineup.
In his rookie season, Lucas Karmiris has added value to the Steelheads while furthering his development. The Brantford native was drafted in the first round (#13 overall) by the team in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection and signed with the club shortly afterwards.
Just weeks into the start of his OHL career, the rookie also had the opportunity to represent Team Canada at the 2022 U17 Hockey Challenge alongside fellow Trout Ryerson Leenders this past October. Karmiris finished the tournament with 2 points (1G, 1A).
Upon returning to Mississauga, Karmiris scored his first OHL goal on December 18 versus the Kitchener Rangers. Following the trade deadline the centreman had an increase in playing time, giving him a chance to shine. The Steelhead significantly upped his scoring pace from 0.14 points per game in the first half of the year up to 0.41 points per game. Karmiris was also very reliant in faceoff draws and finished the regular season with 202 faceoff wins, fourth amongst all OHL rookies. The Steelhead finished the season with a solid 18 points (6G, 12A).
After being the first goalie selected in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection (#32 overall), Ryerson Leenders looked to make a splash in the Steelheads lineup. The young goaltender wasted no time showing his skill-level in between the pipes with a great pre-season, posting a 2.00 goals against average and 0.931 save percentage.
The regular season kicked off on a high note for the Nanticoke native. On October 16th, the rookie earned his first OHL victory with a 3-2 win against Sarnia Sting, stopping 32 out of 36 shots and earning the First Star of the game. A short time later, Leenders was selected to represent Team Canada at the 2022 World U17 Hockey Challenge, playing 6 preliminary games from Nov 3-11.
After earning the starting goalie role for much of the season, the rookie set a new franchise record for most games played by a 16-year-old goaltender with 35 games played. The Steelhead finished off his rookie season with a 3.48 goals against average and a 0.879 save percentage. Leenders was relied on as Mississauga’s full-time netminder for their playoff match up against the North Bay Battalion. With determination, hard work, and perseverance, Leenders held his own in a fierce goaltending battle against the OHL Goalie of the Year, Dom DiVincentiis.
Parker Von Richter
Parker Von Richter, the 6’01” Steelheads rookie defenceman was selected by Mississauga in the third round (51 overall) in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection. The Mississauga native takes a lot of pride in having the opportunity to represent the Steelheads organisation. The blueliner plays a very physical game that allows him to break up attacking chances and create breakouts in his own zone.
Von Richter got on the scoresheets early, scoring 3 points (1G, 2A) in his first four games in the Blue and White, including his first career goal on October 8. Throughout the course of the year, he continued to put up impressive numbers as a rookie. By the end of the season, the hometown defender tallied 15 points (2G, 13A), ranking him tenth amongst rookie defenders in points in the OHL.
The Toronto, Ontario native was selected by the Mississauga Steelheads in eighth round (#151 overall) in the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. After playing the 2021-22 season with Toronto Jr. Canadiens in the OJHL, Harding was signed after a strong performance during the Steelheads training camp in 2022.
Playing most of the season alongside veteran defender Kasper Larsen, Harding had the opportunity to learn and develop his game. The rookie blueliner scored his first OHL goal on November 11 versus the Kitchener Rangers. He did not wait long to net his second, scoring the next day versus the Hamilton Bulldogs. He finished the season with 10 points (2G, 8A) in 63 games.
Off the ice, Harding earned league-wide recognition for his academic excellence, being named the OHL Central Division Academic Player of the Month for November. Turning heads of NHL scouts, the Toronto native hopes to hear his name called in Nashville at the upcoming NHL Draft. Harding’s return to the Steelheads next season will truly be important in the team’s defensive depth.
The Oakville native was selected by the Steelheads in the eleventh round (#208 overall) of the 2021 OHL Priority Selection. After finishing an impressive season in the OJHL recording 21 points for the Oakville Blades in 49 games, Zebeski looked to carry on the momentum into the OHL. Following a successful training camp, the left-winger signed a contract to join the lineup for the 2022-23 season.
Zebeski did not wait long to score his first career goal, netting one against the Owen Sound Attack on October 8. Becoming a solid addition to the Steelheads third and fourth lines, the rookie consistently utilised his skills to drive hard to the net and create challenges for opposing teams. By the end of his first season, the winger posted 11 points (5G, 6A), including his first multi-point game on February 24 versus the Kingston Frontenacs.
After an exciting rookie season, these young Steelheads have shown they have what it takes to become key players in the lineup. As the rookies transition to their sophomore season, look for them to have a significant impact on the team’s ability to produce wins. Start the anticipation, because the Steelheads will look to make a statement in the 2023-24 season.