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Two earn All-Rookie nods

NORTH BAY, Ont. — Goaltender Joe Vrbetic and defenceman Paul Christopoulos of the North Bay Battalion have been voted to the Ontario Hockey League’s Second All-Rookie Team for the 2019-20 season, the league announced Wednesday.

OHL general managers voted in two stages, the first within their conferences and then on a league-wide basis.

The First Team consists of centre Shane Wright of the Kingston Frontenacs, left winger Brennan Othmann of the Flint Firebirds, right winger Chase Stillman of the Sudbury Wolves, defencemen Brandt Clarke and Ruben Rafkin from the Barrie Colts and Windsor Spitfires respectively and goaltender Brett Brochu of the London Knights.

Joining Vrbetic and Christopoulos on the Second Team are centre Mason McTavish of the Peterborough Petes, left winger Martin Chromiak of Kingston, right winger Oliver Suni of the Oshawa Generals and rearguard Mitchell Smith of the Saginaw Spirit.

“We’re proud to have both young men in our organization, and we look forward to their continued development,” Adam Dennis, the Battalion’s general manager, said of Vrbetic and Christopoulos.

Vrbetic, a second-round choice in the 2018 OHL Priority Selection from the Don Mills Flyers minor midgets, posted a won-lost-extended record of 14-25-1 in 42 appearances last season with a goals-against average of 4.23, a save percentage of .881 and two shutouts. He saw action in one OHL game in 2018-19.

Vrbetic, six-foot-six and 180 pounds, is a Hamilton native who turns 18 on Oct. 24.

“Joe had a great year of development and was able to gain a real understanding of what it takes to be a starting goaltender in the OHL,” said Dennis.

“He’s very deserving of this recognition, and we look forward to watching Joe develop into one of the premier goalies in our league.”

Christopoulos, who turned 17 on March 26, was a second-round pick in 2019 from the Don Mills minor midgets. In 53 games as a rookie, he scored four goals and earned seven assists for 11 points with 31 penalty minutes. The five-foot-10 187-pounder is a resident of Richmond Hill, Ont.

“Paul was leaned on heavily in his first season to play big minutes against more experienced players,” noted Dennis.

“He was able to show that he’s a very tough competitor and will be a very difficult person to play against for years to come.”

Ten different teams were represented, with North Bay and Kingston leading the way with two apiece.

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