A pair of Sturgeon Falls players, friends and teammates realized their dreams together in the last weekend of April, when they were both picked in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection.
Defenceman Zach Major was taken in the ninth round (164th overall) by the Owen Sound Attack and forward Jesse Lefebvre went in the 13th round (261st overall) to the nearby North Bay Battalion.
“It was always a thought, that if you train hard enough you could get there” says Lefebvre on getting drafted. “It’s always in the back of your head but you never really think to yourself, that you can go that far and achieve that goal.”
Major and Lefebvre appear to be the first Sturgeon Falls players selected in the OHL draft since Mathieu Shank went in the 15th round to the North Bay Centennials in 1999, already 23 years ago.
“It’s a good feeling, but it’s to prove a point, that it doesn’t matter where you’re from,” says Major. “Everyone has the same opportunity; you’ve got to work just the hardest you can, and things can happen. You can’t really blame it on, ‘Oh I’m from a small town.’ It doesn’t work like that. Everyone has the same opportunity; you’ve just got to work as hard as you can.”
The two have been playing together since their minor hockey days in West Nipissing and Major credits Lefebvre’s dad Troy for really getting him into the game.
“Without him I probably wouldn’t be in this situation,” expresses Major.
This past season, the pair both played with the North Bay Trappers U16 AAA, a strong team that saw five of their players get their names called in the draft. The highlight of the Trappers’ season was winning the Kitchener Blueline Tournament, where they bested 12 other teams from across Southern Ontario. The team went 5-0-1 over the weekend, beating the Toronto Young Nationals in the final 2-1.
“That’s one of our biggest achievements as a team. It was a team effort, it wasn’t anything individual. I feel like I’m pretty proud of that,” says Lefebvre. “Our team overall is pretty good. I’m proud of them for going to tournaments and showing well, it brings our draft rates up, you know?”