Tyson Doucette, a late developing forward who has grown seven inches in height over the past three years, has signed with the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League as an undrafted free agent.
It has been quite the rise for Doucette.
As a 15-year old while skating for the Soo Jr. Greyhounds of the Great North Under 18 Hockey League, Doucette was a mere 5-foot-4, 115 pounds. And his numbers were rather modest during that 2019-2020 season with two goals, 11 assists, 13 points in 28 games. Thus, he was bypassed at the 2020 OHL priority selections draft.
Still, Doucette impressed the Soo Thunderbirds of the Northern Ontario Jr. Hockey League enough to make the team for the 2020-2021 season as one of their two 16-year olds. And as Doucette grew to 5-foot-9, 145 pounds, his numbers were more impressive with five goals, six assists, 11 points in 20 games as one of the NOJHL’s youngest players during a ’20-21 season that was severely shortened by COVID-19.
His play from the ’20-21 season earned him a tryout with the OHL’s Peterborough Petes last fall only to be cut. Undaunted, Doucette returned to the Thunderbirds for a second season as a 17-year old in 2021-2022. He had 15 goals, 12 assists, 27 points in 23 games for the Soo before he was traded to the Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Jr. Hockey League where he netted seven goals, seven assists, 14 points in 24 outings.
Doucette’s overall play in ’21-22 led Sarnia to invite the speedy forward to its recent training camp and the 18-year youngster, who now stands in at 5-foot-11, 170 pounds, impressed the Sting enough to be signed to a standard OHL player contract.
There was a surprise when Doucette first reported to Sarnia, however. A natural centre, Doucette said he didn’t know until he stepped on the ice for the first day of training camp that the Sting had him slotted in as a left winger.
“I was definitely hoping to make the team, but when I realized I was playing left wing, that changed my mood because I’d never played left wing,” Doucette told the Sarnia Observer. “I didn’t know if I’d be good. But it happened to turn out good. It’s a little bit different but I adapted to it. I have some stuff to learn obviously still because it’s a new position, but it wasn’t that bad switching over.”
To be sure, Doucette made a believer out of Sarnia general manager Dylan Seca.
“Each and every day he proved his worth,” Seca said. “The intra-squad game is when he played his best hockey and we realized that he’s just a real serviceable kid. Tyson has been a very pleasant surprise. He’s a great skater and can read the ice well. We like his work ethic and character which fall directly in line with our core values in Sarnia.
“I think this year we’ll see a lot of Tyson’s versatility. We think there’s some offence there. I’m sure as we go forward in the next couple years, he’ll be a pretty impactful kid for us,” Seca added in further praise of Doucette.
As a team heading into the 2022-2023 campaign, Sarnia will be out to try to improve on its showing of the ’21-22 season when it snuck into the Western Conference playoffs with a record of 27-36-5. Then, backed by the goal-tending of Ben Gaudreau, the eighth-place Sting gave the no. 1 seed Windsor Spitfires all they could handle in the first round of the playoffs before losing in six games. With the 19-year old Gaudreau, who hails from the northeastern Ontario town of Corbeil, between the pipes for another season in ’22-23, Sarnia has arguably the best goalie in the OHL as it looks to move up in the Western Conference standings.