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Guelph Storm finds a late bloomer in Jacob Roach (8 photos)

Plucked from the junior B ranks, Roach finally finds an OHL home as an 18-year-old rookie

A year ago Jacob Roach had quit hockey. Now he's a top six forward on the Guelph Storm.

Roach, 18, was an eighth round draft pick of the Sudbury Wolves three years ago. After not being able to crack their team at three training camps, he headed to Brock University and hung up the skates.

"It seemed like every camp I went to, I just couldn't find a spot on the team," said Roach, who hails from Brooklin. "I played a year of junior A in Pickering and I just decided I was going to focus on school and headed to Brock University."

His retirement didn't last long.

The junior B St. Catharine's Falcons reached out through a friend of Roach's and he was back on the ice a couple of weeks into their season. Playing with former OHLers Christian Girhiny and Carson Edwardson, Roach went on to score 93 points in 47 regular season games and another 43 in 17 playoff games.

Roach's friend Chad Yetman had played with Girhiny and Edwardson in Erie.

Putting up 136 points in 64 games had some OHL teams interested.

Guelph's head scout Wade Branch had been involved in drafting Roach in Sudbury and Roach knew a couple of the Storm players. He also liked Guelph.

"I have a lot of friends going to university in Guelph and I'd played a couple of spring tournaments and a couple of hockey camps with (Cam) Hillis. I know a lot of them too and it seemed like a good fit here.

"New team, lot of opportunity, and I decided this would be the best place for my hockey career. Not the normal path, but I'm here now and that's all that matters."

Roach had his second goal of the pre-season Friday night, an empty netter, as the Storm downed the Hamilton Bulldogs 4-2 at the Sleeman Centre.

Jacob Maillet, Pavel Gogolev and Ty Collins had the other goals while Nico Daws went all the way in net.

Roach, who turns 19 in December, expects to be a top six forward despite being a rookie.

"I don't want to be known as a rookie, I want to be known as a presence. A top-six forward and put up some points."

Storm coach/general manager George Burnett shared that opinion.

"I don't look at him as a first-year player. We're treating him like a veteran and we're treating him that way," Burnett said of Roach.

"He's extremely hard working and it feels like he's been around for a year or two at least. He makes good choices, he's good in the gym and he's just a good guy," Burnett said.

"He's very determined to find his way in the game."

The Storm wraps up its pre-season in Hamilton at Mountain Arena on Saturday night.

Regular season opens Sept. 20 at home against Ottawa.



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