Couture has fast start at major junior level

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:29 PM ET

Many young OHL players take a couple of weeks, months or even a full season to get used to performing at the major junior hockey level.

Not Londoner Logan Couture.

The 16-year-old forward with the Ottawa 67's made himself comfortable quickly by scoring a third-period game-winning goal on the road in his first OHL game to help his team knock off the Soo Greyhounds. Talk about bypassing all those pesky growing pains.

"It was a great feeling to be able to do that," Couture said last night before taking the ice to face his hometown London Knights. "It was a confidence boost. It's nice to get that first one right away."

This summer, the highly regarded prospect who played for the junior B St. Thomas Stars last season was expected to go early in the first round of the OHL draft. But his demands scared many teams away and Couture ended up being selected 12th by Ottawa, which knew it was going to have to convince him to come play there.

Longtime 67's coach and GM Brian Kilrea, however, can be persuasive.

"We talked to him and we're happy he ended up deciding to come play for us," Kilrea said. "He's been everything we expected. He's a good player and you try to get good players out on the ice whenever you can in any situation."

Couture, who is sporting No. 89 -- which coincides with his year of birth -- was excited to be back in London and facing the Knights, whom he watched make their Memorial Cup run last year.

"It's a special game for me. You get a chance to come home and play and it's our only time here this year," he said. "I have a lot of family and school friends here."

The six-foot, 191-pounder didn't waste time making his presence known. He took a cross-checking penalty 37 seconds into the game and London scored while he was in the box. But showing maturity beyond his years, Couture came back and scored his third goal of the season on a wobbly shot that fooled Knights goalie Adam Dennis.

Once again, Ottawa has another sound, well-coached club and already looks like one of the better teams in the league -- with the young Couture taking a regular shift and cruising on the top power play unit.

"The guys on the team have been great. You can't ask for better guys than these," he said. "Hopefully, we'll have a season like last year (when the 67's made the OHL final and qualified for the Memorial Cup)."

It won't be in London this time, but that won't matter much to Couture.


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