Hard work has paid off for a pair of members of the Great North Under-18 League’s Soo Jr. Greyhounds.
Forward Calem Mangone and defenceman Adam Barone were off the board very early Wednesday as the Ontario Hockey League held it’s annual U18 Priority Selection.
Mangone, 16, was selected second overall by the Saginaw Spirit while the Sudbury Wolves selected Barone, 17, sixth overall.
“They’re both great kids,” said Soo Jr. Greyhounds coach Jamie Henderson.
Henderson commended the attitude of both players on Wednesday and recalled a conversation with Mangone following the 2020 OHL Priority Selection.
“Last year at the draft, I called all the players, the drafted ones and the undrafted ones and Calem said ‘Hendo, nothing’s going to stop me,” Henderson said.
“He’s just one of those kids you root for,” Henderson added. “He had an unbelievable summer and true to his word, he’s not letting anything stop him. I think he probably would have liked to have made the jump to junior hockey (last summer), but he just used this U18 season, despite it’s challenges, to get better every day.”
“We challenged him, we pushed him every day at practice,” Henderson also said. “He’s just an unbelievable young man. He’s super skilled, but the biggest thing with Calem is that he has such a strong desire to make the highest level possible. He’s a kid I will never doubt.”
In discussing Barone, Henderson spoke of the young blueliner rising to any challenge put his way by the Jr. Greyhounds coaching staff.
“Adam was a little bit of an unknown in his minor midget year, and he was the first defenceman we signed, which kind of surprised some people,” Henderson said. “Same thing (as Calem), he’s a little undersized last year, but he grew and put on about 30 pounds of muscle and he’s become a man now.
“His game just skyrocketed this year,” Henderson added. “He controlled the play. At times it was a little bit easy for him this year. We challenged him at practice, and we challenged him to be a better player and to continue to work on his craft.”
Between the OHL Priority Selection over the weekend and Wednesday’s U18 draft, four members of the Jr. Greyhounds were ultimately picked.
Henderson credited the effort put in by Mangone and Barone in what was an uncertain season to put themselves in a position to get selected.
“It’s all about commitment,” Henderson said. “Whether we were playing games or just practicing or a combination, they brought it every day in practice. They led the way for us every single day. Without too much to look forward to some weeks when we would just practice for five or six times, they just stayed focused on what they were there to do. They were there to get better, and they did that. They had great attitudes and not they got rewarded.”