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2022 Hamilton Bulldogs Training Camp Wrap-Up

The Hamilton Bulldogs closed training camp for the 2022-23 Ontario Hockey League season on Thursday afternoon as the defending champions get set for their opening pre-season tests on the weekend.

FANTASTIC FORWARDS

Starting camp, the returning members of the 2022 OHL Champions picked right up where they left off with 2022 OHL Playoff MVP Logan Morrison and leading goal scorer Avery Hayes picked right up where they left off weaving magic in the split-team scrimmages while shift disturbing linemate Ryan Humphrey drove veterans and rookies alike crazy trying to stop him. Cole Brown, returning for his sophomore season had a chance to work with the Morrison/Hayes dynamic duo and continued to impress in his development while fellow sophomores Patrick Thomas & Braeden O’Keefe each got their chance to show they can carry their own lines as centers. Veteran middleman Lawson Sherk returned to camp with experience, poise and the edge to his game that made him such a big piece of the Bulldogs run to the 2022 OHL Championship while towering winger Brenden Anderson continued to show development throughout camp as he looks to take another step forward in the 2022-23 and become a key part of the Bulldogs offense. Call-ups a year ago, Noah Nelson & Noah VandenBrink each displayed their skill sets through camp with Nelson amping up his physical presence with the ability to play through the middle or on the wing, while VandenBrink much like O’Keefe twirled his tremendous stick skills after a brilliant season in the GOJHL.

The young talent pushing the veterans is led by 2022 1st round selection Marek Vanacker who looked like a player far beyond his years in skill and poise through the scrimmages against veteran opposition. Masen Wray, 2022 3rd round selection, joined Adrian Rebelo, 2020 10th round selection, and Florian Xhekaj, free agent signee, as an impressive trio playing with speed and physicality while all 3 showed a deft touch in tight spaces.

The story of camp could be the rise of 2021 11th round draft selection Jamie Darlison. After spending the 2021-22 season with the Ajax-Pickering Raiders U18 squad, the Whitby product went on a goal scoring tear through both development and training camp leading to his opportunity to join the Bulldogs for the opening week of pre-season.

DYNAMIC DEFENSE

On the blueline Gavin White, coming off a brilliant season and playoffs that included a Game 4 overtime winner in the OHL Finals and a draft selection by the Dallas Stars, looked outstanding through camp. Flying up and down the ice, White was involved all 200-ft of the ice, starting transition from his own zone and flying up and down the frozen river. Skating alongside White, the Bulldogs tower of power, Noah Van Vliet brought his physically imposing style right from the start of camp. Jorian Donovan, coming off his draft selection by the Ottawa Senators, was joined on a pair by Lucas Moore who impressed in his rookie season in limited minutes with his all-around skill set from the blueline each looked set to take the next step in their development in bigger roles in the 2022-23 season. Noah Roberts after a season learning from the likes of Nathan Staios, Arber Xhekaj & Colton Kammerer appeared to take a lot of the knowledge passed down to him well, clamping down the defensive zone in camp while making clean, crisp transition passes out of his own zone.

Callum Cheynowski was the lone new signee on the blue line for the Bulldogs and spent some time on a pair with both Roberts & Moore and looked right at home in black and gold. The fleet-footed newcomer brings a great skating game combined with a physical presence that impressed everyone watching the camp scrimmages.

If Jamie Darlison wasn’t the story coming out of camp for earning an opportunity than it has to be Graydon Finch. The 7th round selection in the 2022 OHL Draft from the Markham Waxers U16 accomplished what can be so difficult for young defensemen, playing strong, steady and poised in their own zone against older, more experienced competition. Finch, like Darlison, earned another look and will join the Bulldogs to open pre-season action.

GREAT GOALTENDING

Between the pipes Marco Costantini and Matteo Drobac each opened camp in form. Coming off a season in which the Bulldogs two returnees formed the top tandem in the OHL with Costantini leading the league in GAA, SV% & shutouts and Drobac running a 19-2 record the Bulldogs have a tremendous foundation. Pushing in the incumbents was Tristan Malboeuf whose first OHL start in the 2021-22 season was his first OHL shutout and after a strong showing the Oakville Blades wants to take the next step to being a full time OHL netminder.

The fourth goaltender in camp was the Bulldogs 2022 4th round selection, David Egorov. The highest goaltender ever drafted by the Bulldogs put on a display that made not the just rookies, veterans, or staff jaws drop but Bulldogs alumni who returned and shot on the young netminder during camp believe there is something special in the Ottawa product.

DECISION TIME

The Hamilton Bulldogs close 2022 Training Camp with depth in every position which makes the job of President & General Manager Steve Staios, Assistant General Manager Matt Turek & Head Coach Jay McKee, and staff, so difficult. With pre-season opening in Erie on Friday, September 2nd against the Otters and Saturday, September 3rd against the Saginaw Spirit, also being played in Erie, the Bulldogs will get a good look at what they have in live action with less than a month before the puck drops to open the 2022-23 season for the defending OHL Champions.

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