Battalion selects Coe third overall

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion made right winger Brandon Coe of the Toronto Nationals minor midgets the first of its 16 picks Saturday in the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.

Coe was taken third overall in the 15-round process, conducted on the Internet for the 17th year. He was the first player the Battalion has chosen among the top three picks since left winger Wojtek Wolski went third in 2002.

The Battalion chose nine forwards, comprising three centres, four left wingers and two right wingers, five defencemen and two goaltenders. All were born in 2001.

A resident of Ajax, Ont., who turns 16 on Dec. 1, Coe, six-foot-three and 166 pounds, scored 17 goals and added 16 assists for 33 points in 31 games. He contributed five points, including three goals, at the recent OHL Cup.

“I’m really honoured to be selected by North Bay,” said Coe. “It has always been a dream of mine to be drafted in the OHL, and I’m really excited to start with North Bay and happy I got picked this high. I’m excited to meet the guys there and join the program.”

Coe saw a busy offseason ahead which includes the Battalion’s orientation camp May 13-14.

“I’ll hit the gym five days a week and get stronger and faster so I can keep up with the guys out there.”

The Troops used their second-round pick, 35th overall, on left-shot defenceman Simon Rose of the Pembroke Lumber Kings minor midgets. Rose, a resident of Renfrew, Ont., who turned 16 on March 23, produced 10 goals and 11 assists for 21 points in 39 games. Rose, five-foot-11 and 161 pounds, also appeared in five games for the junior A Pembroke Lumber Kings of the Central Canada Hockey League.

“It feels great to be drafted to an amazing organization like North Bay,” said Rose. “I bring a fast, puck-moving, reliable defensive game to the team. The next step for me is to train hard this summer to get bigger and stronger for the next level. I think it will be hard work and dedication this summer and a lot of battling to try and get a spot on the team next year.”

The Battalion exercised the Oshawa Generals’ choice in the round, received from the Kitchener Rangers on Nov. 30, 2015, in exchange for defenceman Miles Liberati. The Battalion’s own second-round pick was dealt to the Saginaw Spirit on Jan. 4, 2015, for right winger Nick Moutrey.

In the third round the Troops tabbed right-shot centre Kurtis Evans of the Central Ontario Wolves minor midgets with the 43rd overall pick. Evans, who hails from Uxbridge, Ont., scored 14 goals and added 18 assists for 32 points in 35 games and also contributed two points, including one goal, in three games for the Stouffville Spirit, a junior A club in the Ontario Junior Hockey League. Evans, six-foot-two and 182 pounds, turned 16 on March 3.

The Battalion stayed close to home in the fourth round, choosing right-shot defenceman Payton Vescio of the North Bay Trappers midgets with the 72nd pick. The six-foot, 157-pound Vescio produced 26 points, including six goals, in 36 games, with five goals on the power play. Vescio, a North Bay native who added two assists in four OHL Cup games, turned 16 on March 20.

“I believe I think the game very well and bring a real strong defensive game to the team,” said Vescio, one of three Trappers chosen by the Battalion. “The next step for me is to continue to work hard, get bigger and stronger, and be as prepared as possible to make this team.”

The Battalion didn’t have a fifth-round pick, having sent it and defenceman Stephen Templeton to the Hamilton Bulldogs on Jan. 9 for blueliner Jesse Saban and the Kingston Frontenacs’ 10th-rounder, after the Troops acquired Templeton from Oshawa on Jan. 6 for a 10th-round selection.

The Troops picked their first goaltender of the process with the first of two sixth-round selections, choosing Christian Cicigoi of the Thunder Bay Kings under-16s with their own pick at 103rd overall. Cicigoi, who turns 16 on July 6, played 13 games and posted a won-lost-extended record of 5-6-0 with a 2.63 goals-against average. The five-foot-11, 155-pounder from Thunder Bay, Ont., made two appearances at the OHL Cup, compiling a 2.54 GAA.

The Battalion’s second pick in the round, No. 111, was acquired from Kingston on Jan. 5, 2015, as part of a trade for Ryan Kujawinski and was used to select left-shot defenceman Nathan Porter of the Whitby Wildcats minor midgets.  A six-foot-two, 184-pound resident of Whitby, Ont., Porter had three goals and 14 assists for 17 points in 35 games. He turns 16 on Nov. 2.

The club pegged left winger Owen Diodati of the Southern Tier Admirals minor midgets in the seventh round, 123rd overall. A six-foot-two, 193-pound resident of Niagara Falls, Ont., Diodati scored 14 goals and added nine assists for 23 points in 30 games. He turns 16 on Aug. 17.

The Troops had two picks in the eighth round, using their own, 143rd overall, on goaltender David Cunti of the Toronto Titans minor midgets. The five-foot-11, 220-pound resident of Woodbridge, Ont., made two appearances in the OHL Cup with a won-lost record of 1-1, a 1.89 GAA and a .935 save percentage. He turns 16 on Monday.

The club returned to Thunder Bay with its second pick in the round, 146th overall, and tabbed left winger Owen Belisle, a teammate of Cicigoi. The Thunder Bay resident played 23 games, producing eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points and tallied six points, including four goals, in four games at the OHL Cup. Belisle, six-foot and 196 pounds, was taken with an Ottawa 67’s pick obtained in the Liberati trade. Belisle turned 16 on March 2.

Left winger Harrison Caines, a teammate of Cunti with the Titans, was chosen in the ninth round, 163rd overall. A five-foot-11, 163-pound resident of Stouffville, Ont., Caines scored one goal in four OHL Cup games. He turned 16 on Feb. 14.

The Troops used Kingston’s 10th-round pick, 191st overall, on another North Bay product, Trappers left-shot centre Ryan Mills. A five-foot-seven, 154-pound resident of adjacent Callander, Mills contributed 22 goals and 15 assists for 37 points in 35 games and added two assists in four OHL Cup games. He turned 16 on March 15.

The Battalion didn’t have an 11th-round pick, having swapped it to the Guelph Storm for a 12th-round choice in 2015.

In the 12th round the Troops pegged another homegrown player, Trappers right winger Mat Hardwick, with the 223rd overall choice. Hardwick, a six-foot-one 166-pounder from North Bay, scored 16 goals and added 11 assists for 27 points in 34 games and scored one goal in four OHL Cup games. He turned 16 on March 23.

The Battalion chose left-shot centre Kyle Mandleur of the Mercer Chiefs under-16s in the 13th round at No. 243. A six-foot-two, 256-pound resident of East Brunswick, N.J., Mandleur had 14 goals and 15 assists for 29 points in 23 games. He turned 16 on March 2.

The Troops had two picks in the 14th round and used the first, 263rd overall, on right-shot defenceman Andrew Lukezic of the Titans, who scored one goal in four OHL Cup games. The six-foot-one, 160-pound resident of Mississauga turned 16 on March 9.

The second pick, 276th overall, was acquired Monday from the Guelph Storm for a 14th-round choice in 2018 and exercised on left winger Curtis Kuzmyk of the Barrie Jr. Colts minor midgets. A six-foot-two, 209-pound resident of Innisfil, Ont., he recorded 10 goals and 16 assists for 26 points in 29 games. Kuzmyk turned 16 on Jan. 12.

In the 15th round, left-shot blueliner Maxim Mulder was taken from the Huron Perth Lakers minor midgets with the 283rd choice. Mulder played 24 games last season, contributing four goals and five assists for nine points. A resident of Stratford, Ont., the six-foot-two 186-pounder turned 16 on March 23.

The Barrie Colts chose centre Ryan Suzuki of the London Jr. Knights minor midgets with the first overall pick as the 20 OHL clubs selected a total of 300 players.

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