Teammates continue their hockey dream with draft
Emmett Sproule, 16, and Eric Lalonde, 15, have followed each other throughout their minor hockey careers from Collingwood to Barrie to the minor-midget AAA Grey-Bruce Highlanders, but the road ends here.
Both were selected in last week’s OHL draft selection, with Sproule, a student at Collingwood Collegiate Institute, going in the first round to the Erie Otters and Lalonde, from Jean Vanier Catholic High School, being selected by the Oshawa Generals.
“We have been teammates for a long time,” Sproule noted.
“This is the first time that we have been split up in six years of hockey,” added Lalonde, “though it’s pretty cool getting drafted and almost being like a semi-professional athlete.”
If the two play like the draft book describes them, they won’t be considering themselves semi-professional for long.
According to blurb in the guidebook, “Emmett elevated his game in big moments toward the end of the season. He became more and more noticeable as the year progressed, showing a lot of confidence with the puck on his stick. He was the big reason Grey-Bruce made it into the OMHA championships and had a wild card play-in game at the 2017 OHL Cup powered by Under Armour. The Highlanders’ offence ran through him and his increasing confidence level in the second half of the season got people’s attention.”
The guidebook describes Lalonde as a strong two-way defenceman who loves to compete and engage physically at both ends of the ice.
“It feels great to be drafted by Erie and in the first round. They have a pretty good team there. I’m looking forward to going down,” said Sproule. “I talked with the coach and the GM after the draft and they seemed pretty happy to have selected me. It’s an accomplishment, I think, but I can’t get too far ahead of myself. Now I have to get ready.”
Lalonde had already had the chance to go to Oshawa to meet with team officials and was surprised to find it was more than just a meeting in the office.
“They had us out onto the ice, introducing us to fans with the rest of the draft picks. My name was flashed on the scoreboard and everyone was cheering. They haven’t even seen me yet,” said Lalonde. “They have a camp in two weeks and they said that they will talk to us then.”
Being selected in the OHL draft doesn’t really change the way the two will be spending their summer.
First, Sproule has been invited to play for Team OMHA Black for the upcoming OHL Gold Cup, a tournament in May that includes recently drafted OHL players in Kitchener. After that, though, the two have their own exercise regime they have created that includes both endurance and weight training.
“We work on hockey movements, strength and conditioning,” said Sproule.
“Every Sunday, we go out to Fisher Field and we do a sled push and pull, just doing some exercises that we have worked up ourselves for speed and agility,” added Lalonde. “It works the legs, but it kills after.”
Being away from home to chase the dream doesn’t seem to bother either of the boys much.
“I know that it is a bit tough, but it is all about playing in the OHL, and that’s my dream,” said Sproule.
Lalonde agreed. For him, Oshawa isn’t too far away if you want to play at the next level.