After a Lawrence Park game against Leaside, Wyatt Johnston and Tucker Robertson practised their shot accuracy because they had missed the net far too often for their liking.
Perhaps that anecdote, shared by Panthers head coach Lindsey Wong, is a testament to their hard work paying off, as the duo were drafted into the Ontario Hockey League on April 6.
Seated in a classroom across from the LPCI gym, the two 15-year-olds shared their excitement about being drafted. Johnson went sixth overall to Windsor Spitfires, while Robertson went 72nd overall to Peterborough Petes.
“It’s been my dream the last few years to get drafted,” Johnston said. “There have been a lot of sleepless nights thinking about it.”
“It’s a great opportunity,” Robertson added. “Since I was eight-years-old, I always looked up to the midget guys because they’re always getting drafted.
The two have been playing hockey in the GTHL under the tutelage of Hockey Hall of Fame defenceman Paul Coffey. The Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA have provided a great foundation for the duo who have developed quickly over the past year.
They’ve enjoyed having Coffey, who won the Stanley Cup four times (three with Edmonton Oilers, one with Pittsburgh Penguins).
“He didn’t sugarcoat anything,” Robertson said of Coffey’s coaching style. “He tells you what you need to do to get to the next level.”
Being drafted means the duo will have to leave the halls of Lawrence Park, which is unfortunate for the OFSAA bronze winning boy’s hockey team, which bonded over the year and earned a TDSSAA title.
“It’s been unbelievable. This year they just dominated,” Wong said. “No matter whether it was in the city finals or OFSAA or league games, they clearly stood out as elite players.”
It’s not definite Johnston will be suiting up for Windsor as the team’s ownership is up in the air, likewise for Robertson with Peterborough. Regardless the two are thrilled with their accomplishments.
Johnston models his game after Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner, while Robertson looks up to Jake Guentzel of the Penguins because he’s similar in height and playing style.
“He really finds a way to put the puck in the net a lot,” Robertson said. “People say it’s just because he plays with Sidney Crosby, but maybe it’s the other way around.”