SUDBURY, Ont. – Fresh off representing the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, and the Blind River Beavers, at this week’s Canadian Junior Hockey League’s Prospects Game in Mississauga, Ont., Owen Robinson is still basking in the overall experience.
Selected by the CJHL, in conjunction with NHL Central Scouting, the 17-year-old Orangeville, Ont., product was one of 12 forwards chosen to play for Team East in the match-up vs. Team West at Port Credit Memorial Arena that featured 40 of the top CJHL NHL Draft prospects.
“It was an honour being selected by the CJHL and NHL Central Scouting,” offered Robinson on his selection to compete in the contest. “I was really excited to be picked and I’m definitely very proud to have been recognized.”
Suiting up in Tuesday’s game against Team West in front of a near capacity crowd that featured close to 200 scouts, that included representation from all 31 NHL clubs, the NCAA, U Sports and the CHL, the Beavers’ rookie forward was in awe of the pace of the game.
“It was probably the fastest game I’ve ever played in,” said Robinson. “Everything was done at such a high pace and it was pretty cool to be a part of. There was a big crowd and a lot of my family was there so I was happy they got to see me play. Playing in such a well-known event against so many good hockey players, it was a night that I will never forget.”
Possessing speed, skill and a good two-way game, Robinson was sure to have drawn attention from the plethora of scouts that were on hand.
“Owen certainly didn’t look out of place among all that talent,” surmised NOJHL commissioner Robert Mazzuca, who was among the throng in attendance.
“He played a strong game at both ends of the ice and represented the NOJHL and the Blind River Beavers with a high degree of speed, skill, pride and respect,” added Mazzuca. “This young man has a bright future ahead of him.”
Despite Team East suffering a 5-2 setback at the hands of a highly-talented Team West squad, that featured 10 players that won gold for Canada West at the World Jr. A Challenge in Truro, N.S., Robinson certainly noticed the talent level of all the players, who competed at such a high tempo.
“The biggest thing I definitely noticed about Team West’s players was their speed,” stated the first-year NOJHLer.
“Every player could skate fast and it was pretty impressive going up against players with so much speed.”
While being one of the top rookies in his league this season, Robinson has been pleased with his efforts in Blind River.
“I feel my year has gone very well so far,” stated the crafty forward, who has averaged over a point-per-game with the Beavers in 2017-18.
“I’ve been playing pretty well and our team has been winning. I’ve had the chance to play in the Eastern Canada Cup for Team NOJHL and then tryout for Team Canada East for the World Jr. A Challenge, so my first year of junior has given me opportunities that I didn’t imagine I’d be experiencing before the year started.”
Being recruited by Blind River head coach Kyle Brick, the Beavers’ bench boss has certainly been impressed with the efforts of one of his young standout skaters.
“Owen has been great for us,” stated Brick. “He is one of those guys that makes everyone around him better. He see’s the game so well; which allows him to be where the puck is going, not where it was. I believe Owen’s speed and vision are his biggest attributes; some of the passes he makes are unbelievable and he is able to create separation with his speed.”
Brick also knows that with Robinson earning the chance to represent both the NOJHL and the Blind River Beavers at such a high-profile event like the CJHL Prospects Game, it is certainly a big boost for Jr. A hockey in northern Ontario.
“It was great and I think that above all it’s a big positive for our league to be able to send a player to this event,” surmised last season’s NOJHL coach of the year, who was also on hand for the Prospects Game.
“Our organization is very proud of Owen and all he has achieved. We like to think of Owen as a model for our program and what we like to offer. He has had quite the season. First being selected to Team NOJHL, then being invited to the Team Canada East camp and now playing in the CJHL Prospect Game. Its definitely been a busy year for Owen, but he deserves it all.
After playing AAA midget hockey in southern Ontario, Robinson’s initial campaign in the Jr. A ranks has been solid.
He enters play this weekend sitting second in NOJHL rookie scoring with 44 points having scored 18 times and assisted on 26 others for the Beavers.
Competing at a higher level is something he is well aware of after having made the move from AAA midget to Jr. A.
“The biggest change that I’ve noticed from Jr. A to the other levels I have played is definitely the size of players and the amount of speed everyone has,” stated Robinson.
“In playing against a lot of older guys, it’s definitely challenging because they are much more physically mature than myself.”
As the Beavers’ coach, Brick knows the success the Robinson has achieved to date is something he tries to instill in all of his players, which has helped Blind River post a solid 27-16-2-0 record through 45 games and sit only five wins shy of matching the franchise-record 32 victories the club posted last season.
“Owen is a pro through and through. The routine is simple; practice; school; gym; homework – repeat. Owen is here for the right reason. He wants to become a better hockey player and make the next level. His dedication raises the level in our room. He leads by his habits and work ethic and it is awesome to watch.”
“The coaching staff, fans and team are lucky to have No. 9 in a Beavers jersey.”
Excited with all that has happened in his time in Blind River, Robinson remains pleased and is hopeful of ever better things as the Beavers hit the stretch run and enter the NOJHL playoffs.
“Everything that has happened to me is unbelievable. I’m happy that I’ve been getting exposure and hopefully it leads to more good things. I’m excited to be a part of a team that hopefully goes very deep into the playoffs.”
Photo credit: Kevin Raposo (OJHL Images)