As an underage 15-year old during the 1976-1977 Ontario Hockey League season, Wayne Gretzky played in three games for the Peterborough Petes before the Soo Greyhounds took him with the third overall pick of the 1977 OHL draft.
But not even the Great One can top fellow forward Brian Drumm when it comes to being the youngest player to ever skate in an OHL game. That is, Drumm first suited up for the Oshawa Generals as a 14-year old local affiliate during the 1971-1972 season.
At age 14, Drumm is the youngest player to take part in an OHL regular season game. In fact, Drumm would play four more games for Oshawa as a 15-year old in the 1972-1973 season before joining his hometown Generals full time as a still very young 16-year old for the 1973-1974 campaign. (As an Oshawa native, Drumm was protected by the Generals as a local player and did not have to go through the OHL draft back then.)
A defensive minded forward, Drumm would play five full seasons in the OHL and score more than 20 goals on three different occasions. He finished up his OHL career as an overage player with the Peterborough Petes.
A National Hockey League draft pick of the Vancouver Canucks, Drumm would play parts of seven seasons in the minor pro ranks before retiring.
As he played in the OHL for Oshawa and Peterborough, he later became an assistant coach with both teams. Drumm was also head coach in Peterborough for one full season and he made it a successful one, leading the Petes to a record of 39-25-2 during the 1996-1997 campaign and taking them through two rounds of the playoffs.
As for first playing in the OHL in Oshawa as a 14-year old for legendary Generals coach Gus Bodnar, Drumm recalled the experience.
“I was in Grade 9 and I was playing minor bantam hockey in Oshawa and when I got home from school my dad told me that the Generals had some forwards who were hurt and they needed me for a few games,” Drumm told Hockey News North. “I thought he was kidding … but he wasn’t. So, I shrugged my shoulders and off I went to the game with my dad and mom.”
Funny thing was, Bodnar, as the Generals coach, had no idea that Drumm was only 14 years old.
“I was already six feet tall and weighed about 180 pounds and I looked older than I was and I later found out that Gus (Bodnar) had no clue I was only 14 years old,” Drumm recalled with a laugh. “He thought I was 15 or 16. But back then there were no minimum age requirements in the OHL and so it was okay for me as a 14-year old to play for the Generals because I was an affiliate player from Oshawa minor hockey.”
Years later, Drumm said he ran into legendary defenseman Bobby Orr, who had played in the OHL for Oshawa as a 14-year old in 1962. But since Drumm has a June birth date and Orr has a March birth date, the records show that Drumm was the younger of the two when he played his first OHL game.
“I remember Bobby joking with me that he no longer held the record of being the youngest OHL player because of me,” Drumm laughed.
Now 64 years of age and semi retired after more than 35 years with General Motors — he held his position with the company even while coaching in the OHL — Drumm owns his own pipeline security company and oversees a lot of work in northern Ontario while maintaining a home in Cobourg, Ontario with his wife.
Drumm said he misses hockey but as a husband, father and grandfather, he is not only enjoying his family but being in the pipeline security business.
“My wife (Carol) tells me I am too young to retire,” Drumm noted, with his trademark, friendly laugh.