IceDogs load up on forwards
The Niagara IceDogs selected forward Ethan Czata of the Mississauga Rebels fifth overall in the first round Friday. Czata, centres, poses with mom Jen and dad Mike. Photo by: BILL POTRECZ.
The Niagara IceDogs didn’t take long to turn heads at the 2023 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection Friday night.
The IceDogs chose forward Ryan Roobroeck of the London Jr. Knights second overall in the first round and forward Ethan Czata of the Mississauga Rebels fifth overall in the first round, selections with which owner/general manager Darren DeDobbelaer said he is thrilled.
“Ryan is going to be impactful right off the bat and so will Ethan. They’re two good players we’re going to put into our lineup right away,” DeDobbelaer said.
Roobroeck had 51 goals and 79 points in 30 regular season games before adding 17 more in 12 playoff games.
“Roobroeck’s been the consensus No. 1 forever,” DeDobbelaer said. “I’ve watched the kid since he was in novice, atom. Followed him around. He scored over 100 goals this year and he’s a late birth so we’re guaranteed to have him for three years. We think his ceiling is going to be very high and he’s going to be an all-star in this league.”
Forward Brady Martin of Waterloo, who was selected third overall by Sault Ste. Marie, had passed Roobroeck in the eyes of some, but DeDobbelaer didn’t see it that way.
“We’ve always liked Roobroeck to be honest with you,” he said. “The top players in this draft are real strong so it’s a tough decision but if everybody liked the same thing, everybody would be driving a blue car.
“We’ve like Roobroeck right from the start.”
OHL Central Scouting had high praise for Roobroeck.
“Ryan possesses a shot that many junior-aged players would love to have, it’s pinpoint accurate with great pace and he only needs a fraction of a second to get it off his stick. He is extremely dangerous on the power play as the shooter on the left wing and he has scored numerous goals there with his shot. He is a big-bodied centre that skates well for his size. He has a very good understanding for how to find and create space for himself in the offensive zone.”
PuckPreps.com saw Roobroeck in a different light.
“Ryan Roobroeck play at the OHL Cup exacerbated some of my concerns. His physical elements appeared to be less of a competitive advantage, and his play away from the puck isn’t noteworthy. Martin outplayed him so much at the OHL Cup. However, in the offensive zone and with the puck on his stick, Roobroeck is lethal. His shot is powerful and one of the best in the class. I have no doubt Roobroeck will be a useful top-six winger at the next level, but I question the potential beyond that. The players ranked ahead of him (Martin and Hopkins), I see a more straight forward path to becoming an OHL superstar.”
Roobroeck’s older brother, Dylan, played for the IceDogs two years ago before being traded to the Oshawa Generals before this season.
Ryan Roobroeck is slated to come to Niagara Saturday and meet with team officials.
DeDobbelaer explained the thought process of selecting Czata.
“We don’t think he’s off the board,” he said. “We had him very high on our list all along. He blocks shots, he scores, he backchecks, he never loses a face off. He’s just a complete player. He led the scoring in the Early Bird Tournament this year — people forgot about that — he’s always been very high on our list and kept moving up.”
Czata along with mom Jen and dad Mike were on hand at the Meridian Centre Friday.
“It felt unreal. I’ve worked for this my entire life since I was young. It’s just great that it paid off but the work is just starting now,” Czata said. “I’ve always wanted to come to the OHL since I was young.”
Czata had 22 goals and 37 points in 35 regular season games.
“As a player, I’m a fast power forward that has high compete and is physical and is a 200-foot player. Can score, can pass, can do everything on the ice,” he said.
He is looking forward to the competition of the OHL.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge but challenge is something I have faced throughout my whole career. I feel it’s just another challenge I have to pass,” he said.
Czata was impressed with the Meridian Centre.
“This facility is amazing. Everyone here is nice, everyone is amazing here. It feels like it’s home.”
The IceDogs selected defenceman Artem Frolov in the second round (28th overall selection).
The 6-foot, 184-pound native of Russia had nine goals and 31 points for the Vaughan Kings U16 AAA.
“He is mature beyond his years,” DeDobbelaer said. “We think he is ready. That’s the guy (when we talked the first time) we were hoping to get and no one picked him.”
With their fourth pick of the evening (third round, 50th overall), the IceDogs chose forward Hayden Reid of the Leamington Flyers of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League.
“He’s playing junior B as a 16-year-old. He didn’t get picked in the draft last year,” DeDobbelaer said. “He grew about five inches and he’s had an outstanding year.”
DeDobbelaer said Reid has a four-year scholarship to Colgate on the table.
“We’ve talked to the family and talked to the boy and they’d like to play in the OHL,” DeDobbelaer said. “He’s a top-nine player right now.”
The draft resumes Saturday at 9 a.m. with rounds 4-15.
The IceDogs have the following picks Saturday.
Fourth round – 1 pick
Seventh round – 1 pick
Eighth round – 2 picks
Ninth round to 14th round – 1 pick per round
15th round – 2 picks
Local players selected Friday were all from the Southern Tier Admirals: Goalie Isaac Gravelle, second round (27th overall) by Oshawa; defenceman Dryden Allen, second round (32nd overall) by Flint and defenceman Kaleb Dietsch, third round (46th overall) by Oshawa.
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