McGinn on hero's path

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:35 AM ET

When 67's rookie Jamie McGinn played minor hockey in the Guelph area, he liked to model his style after Gary Roberts. "He just goes out there and gives it all he's got, hurt or healthy," said McGinn.

"He just goes out there and crashes and bangs, and that's what I try to do. Plus, he can put the puck in the net."

McGinn, picked by the 67's in the third round of last year's OHL draft, got a surprise on his way to Ottawa when he learned that Roberts once toiled in the red, black and white stripes.

And also got through part of his junior hockey years under the watchful eyes of Brian Kilrea before being traded to Guelph.

"I went to a couple of Leafs games growing up, and my dad and I would sit there and just watch everything he does," said McGinn. "Just how he gets the puck out and how he finishes every check and, basically, just how hard he works."

McGinn got a thrill at the start of the season when the 67's honoured the 1984 and 1999 Memorial Cup championship teams. Roberts played for Ottawa on the '84 squad and attended the special ceremonies.

Outside of NHL games in Toronto, it was the first time McGinn had seen Roberts in person.

"It was good he was there watching me play," said McGinn. "It's just a good feeling when you see someone you look up to your whole life and you see them in person.

It will take some time for the 17-year-old winger to put up numbers that are anything close to the ones Roberts posted when he was a junior, but McGinn's recent play has drawn praise from Kilrea.

With overager Jeremy Akeson out with a hand injury and the recent suspension to Mark Mancari, McGinn got promoted from the fourth line to a more regular shift with Julian Talbot and Chris Hulit.

The rookie made the most of his chance, scoring a goal in four straight games before the streak ended on Friday against Barrie.

"Lately, the points are starting to come and I feel comfortable out there," he said. "I feel like I'm in my place, so it's a lot of fun."

McGinn got his first OHL goal in October when the 67's were in Windsor during a long road trip.

"I got the puck, and I remember it like it was yesterday," he said. "Talbot to (Aaron) Alphonso and I was just going to the net, I got the pass and I backhanded it top shelf.

"That was a really good feeling. The boys were razzing me about my celebration. I ended up screaming, so it was stupid. But it was just a good feeling to get that goal."

HOCKEY ON THE ROCK: Spotted last weekend in the window of a sports collectables and souvenir shop in downtown St. John's: A Quebec Major Junior Hockey League logo crossed out above the words, "No Quebec league merchandise here."

That sign has likely been taken down now that Derm Dobbin, the owner of the QMJHL franchise in Newfoundland, has reached an agreement with the city of St. John's on a lease for Mile One Stadium, site of last week's Scott Tournament of Hearts.

A few weeks back, the Quebec league suspended operation of the expansion St. John's Fog Devils for the 2005-06 season because the owner could not get a lease from the city.

But fortunately for everybody involved -- especially sports fans in St. John's --they achieved a deal and the Quebec league will begin play next season in the Newfoundland capital.

With the move of the St. John's Maple Leafs of the AHL to Toronto next season, the Fog Devils will become the main tenant of one of the greatest small arenas in Canada. For it to have sat empty even for one year would have been a shame.

JUNIOR B PLAYOFFS: The final eight teams going for the ODHA Trophy, the championship grail for the Eastern Ontario Junior B league, are the Westport Rideaus, Gananoque Islanders, Alexandria Glens, Kemptville 73's, Carleton Place Kings, Perth Blue Wings, South Ottawa Canadians and Ottawa West Golden Knights.

The Golden Knights lead the best-of-seven Metro Division championship 1-0 after a 6-3 win over the Canadians on Thursday night. The series resumes Tuesday at the Brian Kilrea Arena.

The Rideau Division championship begins tonight in Gananoque, when the Islanders host Westport.

The 73's have a 2-0 lead in their St. Lawrence Division series against Alexandria and can take a commanding lead tonight on home ice in Kemptville. And the Valley Division matchup, the Battle of Hwy. 7, between the Kings and the Blue Wings, begins this afternoon in Perth.

barre.campbell@ott.sunpub.com


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