Skilled winger could go in first round
Phil Tomasino’s breakout season came as no surprise to Niagara IceDogs general manager Joey Burke.
The Mississauga native came to the IceDogs with a reputation as a gifted offensive player with plus speed after being taken in the first round (fifth overall) of the 2017 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection.
Tomasino stumbled through his rookie as most first-year players do, then exploded in 2018/19 with 34 goals and 72 points in 67 games.
He was particularly impressive down the stretch which helped increase his stock for the National Hockey League draft.
Tomasino saw his rankings improve from 24th overall for North American skaters to 14th and is expected to hear his name called Friday in the first round at the NHL draft in Vancouver.
“At the minor midget level he was the best skater in the draft class without a doubt and now at the OHL level, it’s the same,” Burke said. “He’s the best skater. He does everything at such a tremendously fast pace. It’s so dynamic and fun to watch the way he really exploded in the second half of this season was something I was waiting to see.
“The maturity he has on the ice, combined with the talents he has on the ice, I don’t know if I’ve ever been prouder of an IceDog and it’s a very exciting time for him.”
Even with all his natural gifts, Burke said Tomasino worked hard on his game.
“His sense for the game and his vision is something that comes naturally,” Burke said. “It’s a credit to Phil and our coaching staff that they really developed and honed his skill set.
“They really worked on his individual skills and it’s paying off in spades for him.”
Burke, who is in Vancouver for the draft, said he’s kept in touch with Tomasino.
“It’s a lot of pressure for these kids, but if anyone can handle it, it’s Phil Tomasino,” Burke said. “Vancouver is buzzing.
“I reached out to him wished good luck and told him I’m here for support if they need anything and he was certainly very appreciative of that. I don’t think these guys are spending a whole lot of time on their phones because it’s a big week and they want to keep as many distractions away as possible.”
Tomasino and IceDogs assistant captain Akil Thomas were among 43 players who were invited to Canada’s National Junior Team Sport Chek Summer Development Camp, July 27 to Aug. 4 in Plymouth, Mich.
Tomasino has previously represented Canada at the 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (Team Canada Black), and at the recent 2019 IIHF U18 World Hockey Championship, where he collected five points in six games.
Round 1 will be held Friday followed by rounds two through seven Saturday.
IceDogs import winger Kyen Sopa is also eligible for the draft.
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