York signs with Colts
Tai York is one step closer to his dream of playing in the Ontario Hockey League.
The 17-year-old Niagara-on-the-Lake native recently signed with the Barrie Colts after being drafted in the sixth round (109th overall) of the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.
York is expected to start the season with the Cobourg Cougars of the Ontario Junior Hockey League where former Erie Otters assistant and Niagara Falls native Wes Wolfe is the head coach.
“It’s really exciting,” York said. “It’s nice because I can play that 10 games (for Barrie as an associated player) and play in Cobourg at the same time.”
Barrie head coach/general manager Marty Williamson said York has all the tools necessary to play at the OHL level.
“Tai impressed us at our training camp with his speed and growth in his game since we drafted him in 2020,” Williamson said. “We knew we had a deep hockey team this year so we weren’t quite sure if he was a year away but he had a great camp. In the Blue-White game he was one of the better players on the ice.
“He continued that and he’s kind of really in between right now. If it was a different kind of year and we were a bit of a weaker team he probably be on it right now but we think the best development for him is to get as many games as he can with us and then play a lot with Cobourg.”
Williamson loves York’s offensive potential.
“His offensive game is extremely strong. He just reads the game and his overall game is good too. There’s a learning process with the young kids, but there’s less of a learning process with scoring goals. He just seems to know the right area to get into to get a rebound and a lot of it’s stuff that isn’t real coachable. Either you have that or you don’t.”
York played in a pair of exhibition games for the Colts and did not look out of place.
“I think it’s fine, it’s a good tempo,” York said. “Marty wants me to just play those games and get me ready, develop in Cobourg and then I’ll be ready for the OHL next year.”
Wolfe plans to work with York fine tuning his overall game.
“Tai is naturally gifted with offensive instincts that have allowed him to produce at every level he has played,” Wolfe said. “He brings a genuine enthusiasm about the game that is infectious to people around him. Our challenge as coaches will be to encourage him to improve his level of detail without the puck to transfer his skill to success at the OHL level. He has already displayed his commitment in our short time together.”
York, who is attending school in Cobourg, also looked at NCAA options before committing to the Colts.
“I thought when I went to camp I could have made it but I wanted to go to the NCAA so I had to pick and choose,” he said. “I thought I had a good chance of making it because I knew they’re high on me.
“I didn’t know (what to expect) so I just gave it my all and they ended up signing me.”
York had to do some serious soul searching before putting pen to paper in Barrie — once a player commits to the OHL he loses his NCAA eligibility.
“I had a long talk with my parents about that, but I got the package I wanted so I made it official,” he said.
York, whose uncle Steve Lidstone is Brock University’s Associate Director of Sports Performance, played the 2020-21 season for the Charlotte Rush in the United States Premier Elite League where he accumulated 40 points (19 goals, 21 assists) in 23 games. York went on to lead the Rush in playoff scoring, compiling 12 points (6-6–12) in six games as the Rush captured a championship.
“I thought it helped me but it got my name out too,” York said. “I thought I would have a big role coming in but I had no clue. I didn’t know anyone so I just played my game and whatever happened, happened.
“It was nerve wracking but exciting at the same time. We won the nationals so it was pretty exciting.”
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