Ottawa 67’s are not just in a one-year mode of championship contention in the Ontario Hockey League. With a team of veterans slated to return in 2019-2020 — including five defensemen — Ottawa will be in position to properly develop first-round draft pick Jack Matier as the 67’s again pursue a title next season.
Through careful planning, good drafting and a few pickups along the way, 67’s general manager James Boyd and head coach Andre Tourigny have set the table for a good run in Ottawa.
And with the aforementioned Matier as a prize addition with the last pick in the first round of the 2019 OHL priority selections draft, the 67’s are in a good place to bring along the big right-handed shooting, 2003 birth-year defenceman from Sault Ste. Marie and have him develop around a crew of seasoned blue-liners.
Ottawa stands to return five defenseman from the 2018-2019 team in 2019-2020. The five are Kevin Bahl, Merrick Rippon, Nikita Okhotyuk, Lucas Peric and Alec Belanger.
Bahl, Rippon and Okhotyuk were all born in 2000, Peric has a 2001 birth date and Belanger was born in 2002.
Additionally, there is a possibility that the 67’s could return one or both of 1999 birth-year defensemen Noel Hoefenmayer and Hudson Wilson as overager players for next season.
As Boyd as the 67’s GM and Tourigny as the head coach have both noted, Matier — who played the past two years with the Soo Minor Thunderbirds of the Great North Midget Hockey League — is going to have no shortage of veteran defensemen to guide him in his rookie OHL season in Ottawa.
To be sure, it seems as though Ottawa has panned out as the perfect fit for Matier as he gets ready to begin what is being projected as a splendid four-year OHL career in the nation’s capital.
PHOTO: Sault Ste. Marie’s Jack Matier dons his Ottawa 67’s apparel.