Doughty adding size, confidence

RYAN PYETTE -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 12:25 PM ET

So how did Londoner Drew Doughty respond to the disappointment of his Guelph Storm losing the OHL Western Conference final to his hometown Knights last spring?

The talented 16-year-old defenceman went to Slovakia last month with the Canadian summer under-18 team and brought back a gold medal from the Junior World Cup.

"Heading into the tournament, everyone was a little bit down for a while because we lost our two big guys up front (Londoner Logan Couture of the Ottawa 67's and Oshawa star John Tavares) to injury right away," Doughty said yesterday from the Storm training camp in Guelph.

"But we got over it and once we got it going, no one could touch us. It was awesome to be a part of it."

Just like his contribution in Guelph last year as an OHL rookie, Doughty played a big role for the under-18s and finished tied for the tournament lead in plus-minus rating for defencemen at plus-four.

Having already skated in the world under-17 challenge and enjoying success at the under-18 category, the only thing left for him at this level is the biggest jewel on the international stage -- a spot with Canada's world junior hockey entry at Christmas.

It's becoming less of a long shot by the day for the skilled blue-liner.

"It isn't my year until next year, so I'm not expecting it. But to get an invitation this year would be an unbelievable experience," Doughty said. "Slovakia wasn't my first trip overseas. Back when I was 10 years old, there was an all-star team put together and I went to play in Belarus with Couture and (fellow Londoner) Jordan Skellett (of the Mississauga IceDogs). We had a great time."

To those who saw him on the ice last year, Doughty rarely looked like a young kid trying to find his way against older players. Forget pushing him off the puck this year -- the offensive-minded defender has added nearly 30 pounds thanks to an offseason workout regimen with London personal trainer Jeff Van Damme, who has also worked with Couture.

"I weigh 213 pounds now and I worked out hard to gain weight and muscle," Doughty said. "Leg power is huge in hockey. I didn't even get to work out as much as I could've because I had to go away for the tournament in August."

Doughty said the biggest thing he learned this summer was adapting in a short time to the nuances of new defence partners and building quick chemistry -- something he probably won't have to worry about in Guelph.

Last year, he recorded 33 points in 65 games in playing almost the entire OHL campaign with Ryan Parent, the steady Storm veteran who is expected to return from an NHL camp with Nashville and form one of the league's best duos with Doughty again this season.

"We're expecting him back in Guelph and that would be great for us," Doughty said. "We've been playing the exhibitions with a lot of rookies and it looks like we're going to have a young team that works hard. There's not a lot of guys we're expecting back from NHL camps. (High-scoring forward Matt) D'Agostini, we think, will be gone (in the Montreal Canadiens system). Ryan Callahan, of course, is gone. Kelsey Wilson could come back. Me, I just can't wait for the exhibitions to end so we can start the season."

Not a lot of OHL teams are going to be too excited about contending with a bigger, more confident Doughty.

Meanwhile, Doughty's former teammate Ryan MacDonald, an ex-London Knights goalie, signed with the Fresno Falcons of the ECHL last week. The 21-year-old Chesley native appeared in two OHL all-star games and finished his four-year major junior career with a 83-31-7 record, a 2.40 goals-against average and a .916 save percentage.


Photos