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Guelph Storm focuses on speed and skill in OHL draft

Draft nine players under six-feet tall in Saturday's draft
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Cameron Hillis was the Guelph Storm's second pick in Saturday's OHL draft. Aaron Bell/OHL Images

A year after a draft that saw size as a priority, the Guelph Storm was focusing on skill during Saturday's OHL Priority Selection draft.

The Storm drafted 15 players Saturday, with nine of the 13 position players standing less than six feet tall.

In total they took eight forwards, five defencemen and two goalies.

After announcing Ryan Merkley as the first overall pick on Friday, the Storm chose one of the most productive offensive players in minor midget hockey last season when they took centre Cameron Hillis, who captained the York Simcoe express to a championship.

Hillis had 25 goals and 47 assists in 33 games.

"Quite honestly we thought for sure he'd be a first round pick," Storm head scout Chris McCleary said Saturday of Hillis.

"He's probably the most skilled player in the draft. He generates the most offence of any player I saw this year. He was the best player on the best team in minor midget this year," McCleary said.

He compared him a little bit to former Storm star Martin St. Pierre.

"I think where Marty was as an overager in Guelph, Hillis will probably be there when he's 18 or 19," McCleary said.

Listed on the OHL site as 5-foot-8, 144 pounds, Storm general manager Mike Kelly said Hillis, a native of Enniskillen, is closer to 5-foot-10.

"We were looking for some skill down the middle. We followed him closely on that York Simcoe team and he has great speed and great skill."

Kelly said the team was looking for someone who not only wants the puck on his stick, but demands it.

"We think we got him," he said. "He still has to put weight on, but he's a speedster and has exceptional skill."

With the first pick of the third round the Storm took another centre, six-foot-one, 195-pound Luke Moncada, who had 24 goals in 61 games for the Toronto Red Wings.

"Bit different of a player: hard working, high compete, finishes his checks and wants to be a difference," McCleary said.

Kelly said Moncada reminds him a little of Tyler Bertuzzi.

Guelph didn't draft a goalie until the seventh round, when they took six-foot-four, 205-pound Nic Daws of Burlington.

They took their first American-born player in the seventh round, winger Phillipe Lapointe of the Chicago Mission. He is the son of former NHL star Martin Lapointe.

A pair of Guelph Minor Hockey products went in the opening 10 rounds: Mitch Morrison to the Saginaw Spirit in the fifth round and Keanan Stewart of Conestogo to the Owen Sound Attack in the sixth round.

Sam Rhodes, brother of Storm defenceman Kyle Rhodes, was taken in the sixth round by the Barrie Colts

Here's a run down of the Storm picks:

Rnd 1: Ryan Merkley, D, 5'10" 160lbs, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, 33 gp 7 g 37 a

Rnd 2: Cameron Hillis, C, 5'9" 150lbs, York Simcoe Express, 33 gp 25 g 47 a

Rnd 3: Luke Moncada, C, 6'1" 195 lbs, Toronto Red Wings, 61 gp 24 g 16 a

Rnd 4: Teth Wilson-Burles, RW, 5'8" 145 lbs, Mississauga Rebels, 52 gp 26 g 29 a

Rnd 5: Mitch Doyle, RD, 6'00" 167 lbs, Clarington Toros, 35 gp 12 g 17a

Rnd 6: Keegan Stevenson, LW, 5'10 161 lbs, Soo Thunderbirds, 21 gp 17 g 12 a

Rnd 6: Barrett Kirwin, C, 5'7" 180 lbs, Barrie Jr. Colts, 32 gp 21 g 14 a

Rnd 7: Nic Daws, G, 6'4" 205 lbs, Burlington Eagles, 34 gp 5-8-4-2 record, GAA n/a

Rnd 7: Phillippe Lapointe, RW, 5'10" 174 lbs, Chicago Mission, 21 gp 4 g 6 a

Rnd 8: William Mackinnon, LD, 5'11" 190 lbs, Detroit Honeybaked, 23 gp 1 g 6 a

Rnd 9: John Beaton, C, 5'10" 160 lbs, Kemptville, 45 gp 17 g 17 a

Rnd 10: Ryan Boon, LD, 5'8" 154 lbs, Toronto Jr. Canadiens, 19 gp 1 g 10 a

Rnd 11: Richard Ledek, G, 6'2" 170 lbs, New York Aviators,16 gp 1-11-0-0 4.62 gaa

Rnd 12: Matt Bridgewater, LW, 6'00" 173 lbs, Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, 36 gp 18 g 16 a

Rnd 13: Andrew Scott, C, 6'1" 175 lbs, Cambridge, 29 gp 4 g 2 a

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Tony Saxon

About the Author: Tony Saxon

Tony Saxon has had a rich and varied 30 year career as a journalist, an award winning correspondent, columnist, reporter, feature writer and photographer.
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