Kilrea gets his D-man in OHL draft

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:07 AM ET

If Tyler Cuma plays as well as he talks, then the 67's picked a good one at the OHL draft.

The 67's made the 16-year-old defenceman their top choice with the sixth-overall pick during yesterday's draft, which was held by conference call.

Cuma followed along at home in Pickering, watching the first round unfold via the Internet.

''Then my name popped up and we all let out a cheer,'' said the 6-foot-1, 170-pounder, who played minor midget last season for the Mississauga IceDogs. ''Everybody was really happy for me and we're all happy about the team I'm going to.''

Cuma said a lot of that has to do with coach Brian Kilrea, whom he met for the first time in March while playing and serving as captain for the IceDogs at the OHL Showcase Cup in North York.

''I'm excited because I think Ottawa is a good, young team and I think Brian Kilrea is a legend,'' said Cuma, who is represented by Bobby Orr's agency. ''I wanted to go to a team with a good coach who's going to work me hard and who can hopefully take me to the next level.''

Kilrea said he had heard from his scouts that Cuma had made huge progress in his game from the start of the minor hockey season.

''He's a big kid but he's a quiet kid,'' Kilrea said during a break in yesterday's draft. ''I saw him on the ice, and he moved and skated well. He was ranked high and we were fortunate to get him because we wanted him.''

Cuma shouldn't have trouble fitting in with the 67's as he knows Ottawa forward Pat Daley because they both work out at the same gym in Whitby.

He also has a connection with winger Jamie McGinn -- he played peewee hockey with McGinn's younger brother.

At the start of the season, Cuma didn't think he'd have a chance to be taken in the first round, especially after a collar-bone injury kept him off the ice around Christmas.

''I thought I'd go later, but as the year went on I kept hearing more and more that everybody liked my work ethic and the way I competed,'' he said.

''I'm always in someone's face. I never give up on a play -- never do.''

67's chief scout Joe Rowley backed up Cuma's claims. ''He's unafraid and will challenge anyone,'' said Rowley. ''He's an excellent power-play guy.''

In addition to Cuma, the 67's added three other big defencemen: Jarred Seymour (6-3, 175) of the Toronto Marlies in the third round; Matthew MacDougall (6-2, 170), captain of the Ottawa Valley Titans, in the fourth; and Rene Lamoureux (6-1, 175) of the Cumberland Barons in the eighth.

Ottawa had three picks in the second round, taking centre Cody Lindsay of the London Jr. Knights; right winger Thomas Nesbitt, one of the top scorers in minor midget for the Titans in the Ottawa district; and left winger Matt Ribeiro of the Mississauga Senators.

Lindsay scored 59 goals and 113 points in 71 games last season and is viewed as a Steve Downie type -- short and stocky, but aggressive and gritty with 117 penalty minutes in 2005-06.

Nesbitt, a Stittsville native who scored 36 goals in 32 games for the Titans, is considering attending a U.S. college, but seemed excited yesterday about staying home and playing for his hometown junior team.

BARON GOES NINTH

Defenceman Shawn Beauchamp-Lalonde of the Cumberland Barons was the top local player chosen when he went ninth overall to the Belleville Bulls. He was the first Ottawa-area player in four years to be selected in the opening round.

In all, it was a good draft for local players, with at least one Ottawa kid taken in each of the 15 rounds.

The Valley Titans fared best, with a whopping 13 players taken from the minor midget roster.

BARRE.CAMPBELL@OTT.SUNPUB.COM


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