NORTH BAY, Ont. — Liam Arnsby, the North Bay Battalion’s first-round pick in the Ontario Hockey League’s Priority Selection, liked what he saw Thursday on his first visit to the Gateway of the North.
“It’s a very nice facility,” Arnsby said of Memorial Gardens. “The dressing room’s very nice, and it’s overall just a good feeling here.”
The Battalion made centre Arnsby of the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets and Ajax, Ont., the ninth overall pick in the OHL Priority Selection last Saturday.
“It was a dream come true,” Arnsby said of hearing his name announced in the 15-round process conducted over the Internet.
“You know, all these years playing hockey, just being selected on that day was awesome. And also coming here — one of my buddies, Brandon Coe, lives a couple of streets over, so it was good.”
Right winger Coe was North Bay’s first-rounder, third overall, in 2017 from the Toronto Nationals minor midgets and has played two seasons with the Troops.
Arnsby scored 21 goals and earned 49 assists for 70 points in 49 games with Don Mills, which won the Greater Toronto Hockey League title. He had one goal and five assists for six points in seven games as the Flyers captured the OHL Cup and, at the Canada Winter Games at Red Deer, recorded two goals and seven assists for nine points in six games as Ontario lost the gold-medal game 4-3 in overtime to Quebec.
“I played in the OHL Cup and Winter Games, so that experience will help, I think, next year,” Arnsby said of what lies ahead in his rookie OHL season.
Adam Dennis, a Battalion assistant coach, suggested that Arnsby, who turns 16 on Nov. 20, and his father, Walter, who also made the trip to North Bay, would prefer to get that season under way sooner rather than later.
“I think that they’d probably start the season tomorrow if they could,” noted Dennis.
“They were both pretty excited, and that’s what you want. It’s a great city, and we all know what we have in North Bay. We all know how good things can be, and it’s really cool when you get people up here to see it for themselves and have that same excitement like when you saw it for the first time.”
Dennis said the visit, which included a tour of Chippewa Secondary School, was designed as a good introduction to the city.
“Today is a low-key day. We want to show him around the town and get him used to it, get him to see what he’s going to be a part of for the next couple of years, and just make sure that comfort zone is there.”
Arnsby, who stands five-foot-10 and weighs 166 pounds, has shown no time for those who have questioned his size.
“I don’t really listen to all that. I just kind of go out there and play my game.”
He said he’ll work hard this summer to get ready for next season, with “a lot of skates and five days a week in the gym.”
“I like to say I play a good 200-foot game, hard on the puck, but also I can contribute to the offence, I think.”
Dennis praised Arnsby’s dedication.
“He’s a tireless worker. He’ll put his team before himself in every situation, and that’s what it takes to win hockey games.”