Christian Girhiny returns for a fourth and final season with the Erie Otters and will be a key piece to their rebuilding unit.
The former 11th round pick in the 2014 OHL Priority Selection hoisted the Robertson Cup in 2017 and has posted consecutive seasons of 25 points.
Girhiny took time during Otters Training Camp to answer some questions and share his outlook on the season ahead.
With a past OHL championship under your belt, are you excited to be a leader on a young team this season?
“I’m definitely excited to be an overager coming back to such a great team. With that, I think the team expects me to be a leader for all of these young guys. We have quite a few coming in and we still have quite a few young guys from last season, but I’m just going to work my hardest and try to lead them by example and on and off the ice I’m hoping I’ll be a good impact for them.”
You’ve had back-to-back 25-point seasons. How much is your focus on production as opposed to playing a complete 200-foot game?
“This year I’m definitely going to try to get a few more points for my team but my whole life I’ve kind of been a 200-foot player. I’ve always been a heavy defensive player that’s blocking shots but I think with the opportunities I should get this year I’m going to look forward to maybe getting a few more points.”
After playing for Kris Knoblauch, you played under Chris Hartsburg last season. What sorts of qualities does Hartsburg bring to the team in his role?
“Coach Hartsburg is a very dedicated and determined coach to bring the Otters back to our winning ways. He stepped into a big role last year after we came off that Memorial Cup run. He’s very enthusiastic, he’s always there for the players, he’s a very determined coach, and I think everybody kind of knows that by now but he wants to do what’s best for the Otters organization.”
Your uncle Rick played briefly in the OHL and also played in the pro ranks. How much has he inspired your hockey career?
“My uncle Rick’s been a big influence for me since I’ve been a little kid. He played for the Niagara Falls Thunder in his junior career and they actually ended up moving to Erie so when my time came to make the Otters and number seven was available I knew it had to be it.”
The Otters missed the playoffs last spring. With some of the young players a year older, are you optimistic about getting back into the postseason this year?
“Last year we had a very young team. We had 13 rookies in the lineup at once. It’s always hard for first year guys to kind of step into that big role after the run we had but this year I think they kind of know the flow of the OHL and they’re going to be very determined to make a playoff push.”
This month ontariohockeyleague.com will feature one team each day in advance of the 2018-19 season which begins Wednesday September 19th. See more from the OHL 20 in 20 series.