Defenseman Jack Matier heads a list of 2003 birth year skaters from the Soo Minor Midget Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League who have been tapped as potential prospects for the 2019 Ontario Hockey League priority selections draft.
A tall, rangy, right-handed shooting defender, young Matier is the son of Mark Matier, who played three OHL seasons as a defenseman with the Soo Greyhounds and was a key member of their 1993 Memorial Cup championship team.
This is Matier’s second season with the Soo minor midgets. He played with them in 2017-2018 as the only player with a 2003 birth date on a team otherwise comprised of those born in 2002.
The initial list of Soo minor midgets who have already been deemed as early bird prospects for the 2019 priority selections draft was compiled after consultation with a cross-section of OHL scouts and the independent Hockey North Regional Scouting Service.
Early returns on the 6-foot-2, 185-pound Matier have him pegged as a prospective first or second round pick at the 2019 OHL draft, citing his hard accurate shot, skating ability, skill level and a high hockey intelligence quotient among his attributes.
Two other defensemen with the Soo minor midgets also stand out in the eyes of some scouts.
They are Tyler Dunbar and Thomas Irwin and early projections are for them to possibly be middle round selections next spring in what is a 15 round, annual selections process.
Meanwhile, three forwards from the Soo minor midgets had their names mentioned as players of note to watch as the 2018-2019 Great North season plays out. The forwards in question are Stephen Pszeniczny, Theo Smith and Dylan Szabo.
Of note, both Dunbar and Szabo reside on the Michigan side of the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie.
The Soo minor midget program is coming off a past season in which only one player was taken at the 2018 OHL priority selections draft. He is 2002 birth year forward Justin Mauro, who was picked by the Erie Otters in the 15th round and who is developing this season with the Blind River Beavers of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League.
Notably, one player from the 2017-2018 edition of the Soo minor midgets who was bypassed at the 2018 OHL draft is goalie Noah Zeppa.
Zeppa stood out in spectacular fashion to those who got to see him play on a regular basis last season.
But the fact that he played on a lowly club that won only two regular season games coupled with him being overlooked by the partisan group that picked the Team NOHA tournament squad worked against the now 5-foot-10 puck-stopper being drafted into the OHL last spring. Of note, Zeppa has a late birthday, having been born on December 2, 2002.
PHOTO: Defenseman Jack Matier of the Soo Minor Midget Thunderbirds. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)