Goalie first Niagara player chosen in OHL draft
Isaac Gravelle and his parents, Eric and Jessica, are shown after the OHL draft.
Isaac Gravelle’s dream became a reality Friday night when he was chosen in the second round, 27th overall by the Oshawa Generals in the 2023 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
“It is every kid’s dream and growing up watching the IceDogs, I just always wanted to play with them or against them.”
His parents started taking him to IceDogs games when he was three or four years old.
“They had their own little IceDogs jerseys and when he played in Pelham we got to go skate between periods of an IceDogs game,” father Eric Gravelle said. “We got to meet Ryan Strome, Alex Pietrangelo and all those guys and I think there are pictures of him shaking their hands back in the day.”
The newly minted General is looking forward to the day he arrives at the Meridian Centre to take on his former rooting interest.
“That will be really exciting for me because all my family will be able to come.”
Eric is not surprised his son has been drafted into the OHL.
“It was his work ethic, his never give up attitude and his determination to make it to the next level. It is not taught, not parented, just in him.”
Isaac followed the draft in the living room of his Fenwick home, along with parents, Eric and Jessica, and his aunt and uncle, Jacqueline and Nick Vaccaro.
Watching the draft with his parents was fitting.
“They have supported me through my whole journey and have always been there for me in the ups and downs,” the 5-foot-11, 167-pound goalie said.
That help has been critical in his development.
“You need that support to succeed because without it you will get too down on yourself or you will get too high and you won’t succeed on the ice.”
His advisor was Facetiming him when Oshawa selected him Friday night and then the Oshawa Generals GM Roger Hunt called him while his name was being called.
Isaac’s reaction was muted.
“I don’t even know. It was just so much to process because it was such a big accomplishment for me,” the E.L. Crossley student said.
Eric wasn’t expecting any big emotional outbursts from his son.
“He is a very even-keeled kid. He just wants to show he can go to the next level and prove himself day after day.”
Not much changed with his excitement level on the day after.
“I’m just trying to process it because it was my dream and it had come true.”
The 16-year-old wasn’t surprised by which team ended up selecting him.
“I kind of thought they were going to just because of what my coaches and advisors had told me over the year.
Hunt’s conversation with him was short.
“He was just saying congratulations and it was a big accomplishment that I had been selected.”
The Southern Tier Admirals player was the second goalie chosen in the draft and was the first player chosen from the Niagara Region.
“I didn’t think about that but I guess it is pretty cool,” he said.
Gravelle fashioned a strong season for the Admirals with a 1.22 goals-against average and five shutouts in the regular season before registering two more shutouts in four playoff games. He realized he had a great chance to be drafted into the OHL midway through this season.
“I felt like I had had a good year and my advisers were telling me stuff and bringing up the possibility.”
He is not resting on his laurels and is already preparing for training vamp.
“I just have to work hard with my trainers on and off the ice to try and be the best that I can be.”
Gravelle, who is coached by Ben Vanderklok and Jason Barron, has big goals for the fall.
“I want to make the team and play in the OHL next year That is my main goal,” he said. “I have to work as hard as I can all summer.”
He will attended the Generals orientation camp May 12 and 13.
Other locals taken in the draft were: Southern Tier defenceman Dryden Allen, selected in the second round, 32nd overall by Flint; Southern Tier defenceman Kaleb Dietsch, taken in the third round, 46th overall by Ottawa; Niagara North Stars centre Liam Beamish, picked in the eighth round, 151st overall by Sarnia; Southern Tier defenceman Trent Vaillancourt, selected in the ninth round, 168th overall by Mississauga; Southern Tier left winger Easton Lynds, taken in the ninth round, 173rd overall by Peterborough; Oakville Rangers goalie and St. Catharines native Finn Moffett, picked in the 10th round, 183rd overall by Niagara; Southern Tier centre Noah Reid, picked in the 10th round, 188th overall by London; Southern Tier defenceman Carter Timmins, chosen in the 10th round, 197th overall by Sarnia; and, Niagara North Stars defenceman Dustin Lariviere, selected in the 13th round, 244th overall by Erie.