Czech stars en route to 67's
By DAVE GROSS -- Ottawa Sun
If the Corey Locke era is indeed over, the 67's appear ready to deal with the loss of the two-time OHL scoring champ.
Coach and GM Brian Kilrea announced yesterday that his two prized CHL import draft selections from earlier this summer will be arriving in Ottawa next Monday.
"Their releases are all looked after and it's just a matter now of them coming over here and getting ready to play," said Kilrea.
That'd be Lukas Kaspar and Jakub Petruzalek -- the highly touted 19-year-old teammates from the Czech Republic.
Reportedly close friends who skated together on the same line with their club in Litvinov, Kaspar and Petruzalek are expected to pick up the scoring slack if Locke doesn't return.
Petruzalek led the Czech Republic junior circuit in scoring with 89 points in 53 games.
As good as the numbers are, Kaspar looks to be an even bigger catch. San Jose thought enough to spend a first-round selection on the speedster this summer.
Kaspar also landed a roster spot on his country's junior team this past December.
"We knew that we had to do something if we are losing Corey, and it looks like we are," said Kilrea. "That's a lot of our offence and we feel with these two coming in along with the returning players and draft picks like Patrick Ouellette, Matt Lahey and Aaron Alphonso, I really feel we've boosted the offence."
As for Locke?
"I think he deserves to move forward. He's done everything and more at this level," said Kilrea.
Both Lahey and Alphonso are expected to step right in and help. Throw Ouellette's name in there as well, said Kilrea.
The left winger was originally drafted (third round) in the summer of 2003. But after a discussion with his parents concerning the stresses of playing junior hockey as a 16-year-old, Ouellette chose to not report to 67's camp last fall. Instead, he stayed closer to home and played a season of Jr. B with Tecumseh, where he scored 16 times in 47 games and was named to the Western Jr. B rookie all-star squad.
"I wanted to keep my options open as far as U.S. college, and as well, my family really didn't feel that I was ready to move up and play last year," Ouellette said from his home in Windsor. "I'm definitely a much better player after a season in Jr. B. It taught me a lot about the game and playing with older guys."
Plenty of state-side suitors knocked on his door this past winter -- Brown University, Cornell, Princeton, Michigan State, Bowling Green and Notre Dame.
Ouellette preferred to take the junior route.
"I'm very happy with my choice," said Ouellette, who'll join his new teammates in Ottawa when camp opens on Sept. 2.