Mitchell Hoelscher remembers skating on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa when he was younger.
Now he has the chance to skate for the Ottawa 67’s after being selected by the team in last weekend’s Ontario Hockey League (OHL) draft.
Hoelscher, 16, of Elora, was watching the draft with his parents, brother and two grandmothers on April 9 when he saw his name come up in the third round (56th overall).
“It’s incredible, I can’t describe it. It’s probably the best feeling of my life,” he said to the Advertiser.
“My one grandma was actually crying, she was so proud; they were cheering and clapping … it was really special.”
Ottawa 67’s general manager and head coach Jeff Brown said he likes Hoelscher’s “brain, his vision and he makes people around him better.”
Brown added he has high hopes for Hoelscher.
“We expect him to be a top six forward for us, probably not this year but the following year, and that’s why we drafted him. We think that he has that ability to be a difference maker and a top six for us eventually.”
After performing all year, being drafted was a sweet reward.
“It’s a tough year for sure. There’s scouts at every game, you’ve got to perform, with that being said, it was a fun year,” said Hoelscher.
The centre played for the Waterloo Wolves minor midget ‘AAA’ team this season, registering 92 points (45 goals and 47 assists) and a plus-34 rating in 80 games. In the past he has also played for the Centre Wellington Fusion.
Pat Higgins, head scout for the Ottawa 67’s, said Hoelscher is a very talented player.
“He’s very, very smart; very competitive, skilled, so I think down the road, like you know he’s only 140 pounds right now and 5’11”, so he’s just a young guy that we see over the next couple of years, once he starts to get a little bit stronger … can grow into being a very good OHL player, hopefully a good Ottawa 67’s (player),” said Higgins.
“He likes to have the puck and he makes good plays with the puck, but he’s also very responsible without it. He’s one of those kids that can find different ways to help the team win.”
Hoelscher has been playing hockey since he was just three years old.
“My dad’s always played (hockey); him and his brother grew up playing it and … ever since my dad put skates on me, I’ve always loved it and loved coming to the rink,” he said.
Hoelscher has some hard work ahead of him, with summer camps starting at the end of May.
He added he’s excited to experience the great hockey community in Ottawa.
“I’m excited for the summer to put in all the work that needs to be done; obviously my spot’s not guaranteed just because I was drafted,” said Hoelscher. “It’s a special day, Saturday was, and I really look forward to becoming a 67.”