Stewart loses his football fat

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:01 AM ET

Chris Stewart continues to work himself into game shape with the Kingston Frontenacs but we're not talking about a player who nearly ate his way out of the Ontario Hockey League. In fact, in Stewart's case, it's just the opposite. The 17-year-old forward didn't play minor hockey last season, instead concentrating on high school football with the West Hill Warriors in Scarborough, where he was a tight end.

A younger brother of Frontenacs star Anthony Stewart, who is at Canada's junior camp in Winnipeg, Chris Stewart cracked the Frontenacs as a walk-on in training camp.

"I had always come to watch my brother play so I figured I would give it a try and ask for a tryout," Chris Stewart said. "My parents were disappointed that I had quit hockey. There was pressure to play again. I wanted to create my own name in football, but this has been great. I've been getting a lot of ice time lately and I've been surprised with the way I have been playing."

The 6-foot-1 Stewart bulked up to 250 pounds to play football but has dropped to 228. Kingston staff had no interest in handing Stewart a roster spot, but he earned one and has kept it with 11 points (seven goals and four assists) in 28 games.

"It says a lot about the kid," Frontenacs general manager Larry Mavety said. "We thought he would come along after Christmas but he has been in a regular role for us for the past month. He is not here just because he is a Stewart."

STILL NO O'NEILL

Windsor Spitfires general manager Mike Kelly made an interesting move last week when he acquired the rights to defenceman Wes O'Neill from the Frontenacs.

Back in 2002, O'Neill told Don Cherry, then the owner of the Mississauga IceDogs, to take a hike when Cherry announced he was taking O'Neill first overall. O'Neill, who made it clear then he was going to take the NCAA route, was picked by Kingston second overall anyway. A native of Windsor, O'Neill is now in his second year at Notre Dame and he was taken in the fourth round by the New York Islanders last June. Kelly has not had any indication O'Neill will leave Notre Dame to join the Spits, but he wanted to get O'Neill's rights nonetheless.

"There is nothing imminent by any stretch of the imagination," said Kelly, who gave up a fourth-round choice in 2005. "But I am willing to roll the dice. O'Neill could be a top defenceman in our league."

BRIEFLY

With 63 goals in 31 games, the St. Michael's Majors are on pace for 138. The OHL record for fewest goals in one season is held by the 1998-99 IceDogs, who scored 145 ... 'Dogs owner/GM Mario Forgione is said to be interested in acquiring Maple Leafs prospect John Mitchell from the Plymouth Whalers.


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