D-day is looming in the Ontario Hockey League. As in the annual priority selections draft that is slated for this Saturday.
It will, as it has been for many years now, be conducted via the Internet, beginning at 9 a.m.
Sudbury Wolves will pick first in the first round and the Soo Greyhounds will have the last pick of the opening round, 20th overall. The draft will extend through 15 rounds.
As we strive to brighten our northern sky — in a hockey sense, in this instance — a number of players from the Great North Midget League are up for possible selection on D-day.
Hulking defenseman Pacey Schleuting from the minor midget North Bay Trappers is expected to be the first player from the Great North loop to be drafted.
In fact, the hometown North Bay Battalion is said to be poised to select Schleuting in the first round.
Among the more highly-touted players from the north who could follow Schleuting, high-scoring forward David Campbell is at or near the top of the chart.
A Sault Ste. Marie native, Campbell left home to play in North Bay and was a teammate of Schleuting this past season.
As for Soo boys who actually stayed home and played for the minor midget Thunderbirds, forward Justin Mauro, defensemen Nate Headrick and Mateo Perri and goalie Noah Zeppa all have fair to partly cloudy chances of being picked at Saturday’s draft.
Working against the Soo boys are that the Thunderbirds had a lowly record of 2-18-4 within the Great North league this season and that the “Joe Average” OHL scout may not have done due diligence on any of them.
Of the four from the T-Bird midgets, Zeppa is probably the most intriguing.
With superb technique, cat-like reflexes and a natural penchant for staying calm under pressure, the knock — for lack of a suitable word — on Zeppa is his size.
But I happened to see Zeppa standing side-by-side North Bay goalie Reece Proulx at last month’s minor midget championship tournament banquet that was held in the Soo. They were standing within a few feet of where I was seated — and they are exactly the same height.
So, if Proulx is 5-foot-8, so is Zeppa. And if size is not a factor with Proulx, then it should not be with Zeppa, either.
As for other forwards from the Great North who could become property of OHL teams at Saturday’s draft, the list includes Jesse Kirkby, Jack Stockfish and Joe Jordan of North Bay, Dario Beljo, Hunter Brazier and Gavin Brown of the Sudbury Wolves and Kobe Barrette of the Timmins Majors.
Other defensemen who could get picked include Ben Brunette of North Bay and Ryan Maynard of the Kapuskasing Flyers.
Dark horses from the lot?
There are a few, led by Zeppa and Barrette.
PHOTO: Soo Thunderbirds minor midget goalie Noah Zeppa. (Photo by Ali Pearson.)