The West Nipissing Lynx selected 16 players in the GMHL’s 2022 Entry Draft on Sunday May 29, as next year’s roster is starting to take shape heading into the summer.
The draft gives GMHL teams the rights to a player for the duration of their junior career, so if they opt to play in the league down the line, they must do so for the club that drafted them. Lynx President Pat Miron says they don’t expect anyone from this year’s crop to play for the team right away – if they do, it would be a bonus – as West Nipissing stuck to their strategy of “protecting local players,” getting the rights to 10 skaters from Northern Ontario.
That group includes Sturgeon Falls natives Zach Major and Jesse Lefebvre, who were also taken in the later rounds of the OHL Entry Draft in April. Though it’s unlikely their OHL teams will loan them out to the Lynx, Miron thinks they can at least make a convincing argument to do so thanks to their new head coach.
“With Moe Mantha Jr. now being our coach and with his connections in the OHL, can we not call that club and say, ‘Hey listen, instead of this kid playing Junior C in Stratford six hours away from home where he’s going to billet and be away from home for the first time in his life, why can’t he stay home, stay at his family’s, play for the local team under Moe’s guidance?’ It’s elite-level coaching, you know what you’re getting, and we’ll reassess after the season. It doesn’t mean it’s going to happen, but there’s a bigger chance that it could happen with Moe being behind the bench,” says Miron.
The other name that jumps out from the crop of Northern Ontario and Quebec players drafted by the Lynx is Anthony Rizzi, an Italian Canadian from Iqaluit, Nunavut. Rizzi sent his tape to a few teams in the hopes of getting selected and Miron says they liked what they saw, enough to pick him in the fifth round.
“As soon as we jumped in the car after the draft was done, he was the first guy that reached out… We’ll see how it shakes out and whether or not he’s going to join but, we took a chance, and we’ll see how it plays out,” he says.