Pair of defencemen added

NORTH BAY, Ont. — The North Bay Battalion chose defencemen Andrew Lanni and Hunter Martell in the Ontario Hockey League Under-18 Priority Selection on Thursday night.

Lanni, who measures five-foot-10 and weighs 182 pounds, was taken in the first round, 18th overall, while Martell, five-foot-11 and 188 pounds, was selected in the second round at No. 38.

Lanni, a left shot who turned 17 on Feb. 25, played with the Vaughan Kings in 2021-22, scoring eight goals and adding 15 assists for 23 points in a total of 39 games. He also played 16 games with the junior A Markham Royals of the Ontario Junior Hockey League, earning three assists.

“Andrew is a versatile defenceman who plays both sides of the puck,” said general manager Adam Dennis. “He’s strong, with a great work ethic, and highly coachable. He’s a guy we felt should have been taken last year in the Priority Selection.”

Lanni, speaking by telephone from the Toronto area, said the buildup to the process came with apprehension but that it was a thrill to be selected.

“After I got the phone call and saw my name, it was pure joy, relief.”

Martell, who shoots right, turned 17 on Feb. 27. He scored eight goals and added 17 assists for 25 points in 42 games with the Barrie Jr. Colts and had one goal and one assist for two points in 19 games with the OJHL’s Stouffville Spirit.

“Hunter is a well rounded, mobile defender who we feel has some offensive upside,” said Dennis. “He played a significant number of games at the junior A level, which should give him a solid head start.”

Martell, who had just got off the ice at a Spirit camp, said he was delighted to be chosen by North Bay.

“I’m hugely honoured. I hear it’s a great organization. I’m just thankful that they had the faith in me or my skill, you could say, to select me.”

Both new recruits are expected to attend the Battalion’s orientation camp May 14-15, joining the 14 skaters and two goaltenders chosen last weekend in the Priority Selection.

The under-18 process, conducted online with the 20 OHL clubs connected to the league office in Toronto, consisted of two rounds, with each team required to select two players. If a team took a goaltender with either pick, it had the option of selecting another skater in a third round. Twelve goaltenders were chosen.

The Saginaw Spirit had the first pick by virtue of the lottery that determined the order of choosing for the four non-playoff teams in the Priority Selection. Saginaw took right winger Lincoln Moore of the Soo Jr. Greyhounds.

After the Erie Otters, Sudbury Wolves and Niagara IceDogs, the order of selection was the inverse of the overall regular-season standings.

The process, which dates to 2017, was developed with the Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Eastern Ontario and Hockey Northwestern Ontario to promote U18 AAA programs. All under-18 players not on the protected list of a Canadian Hockey League team who were carded with an Ontario-based U18 AAA club or an accredited Hockey Canada sport school within the OHF, HNO or HEO in 2021-22 were eligible for selection.

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