Bradley Belisle did not have to wait too long to hear his name called in the Ontario Hockey League's annual draft.
The 16-year-old Belisle was the first of three Thunder Bay Kings players taken off the board in Saturday's OHL Draft, being selected in the third round by the Sarnia Sting where he will look to follow in the footsteps of his new head coach Trevor Letowski, the Thunder Bay native who went on to an NHL career.
“It was pretty humbling with how early I went,” Belisle said. “I was ecstatic right off the start.”.
The Thunder Bay Kings minor midget forward, who was taken 53rd overall, is the highest drafted Thunder Bay player since winger Nathan Cull and goaltender Matt Murray were both selected in the second round of the 2010 draft.
He considers it an honour to get recognized in the early rounds and hopes to find similar success.
“Seeing those guys back then go so high and what they’re doing now, obviously with Murray signing an NHL contract, just seeing them do that I know I have the chance and opportunity,” Belisle said.
“I just have to put the work in.”
Belisle scored 44 goals and 84 points in 64 contests with the Kings this past season.
“He’s a very offensive player and put up a lot of points for us,” said Chris Whitley, the minor midget Kings’ assistant coach.
“He’s offensive but for him he thinks the game very well. He did a great job of coming through with his all-around game. He worked well defensively as the year went on and I think that helped his stock rise.”
Evan Krassey was the second member of the Kings to receive a call, being selected in the eighth round by the Niagara Ice Dogs.
Whitley had a helping hand in Krassey landing in Niagara, as the Ice Dogs coach used to be Whitley’s junior coach. Whitley received a call early in the afternoon asking about Krassey and the coach put in a good word.
“He’s a good power forward,” Whitley said. “Once he gets bigger and stronger he’s going to turn into a really good player one day.”
Krassey, a 16-year-old winger from Atikokan, registered 20 goals and 52 points while suiting up for 57 games with Thunder Bay.
He said his phone “blew up” with messages once the pick was announced.
“My physical play will definitely help,” Krassey said. “I’m not scared to go into the corners and I think that will play a big part in my career.”
The third Kings player to get picked was defenceman Troy Williams, who was pegged in the 11th round by the Saginaw Spirit.
Whitley described Williams as a smooth puck moving defenceman, adding his speed should be an asset in the major junior ranks.
The Dryden product recorded 14 goals and 35 points from the blueline in 59 games.
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