This is part two of a multi-part series on previous drafts by the Erie Otters. Each story focuses on a pair of OHL Priority Selections.
1998 OHL Priority Selection
Site: Barrie Molson Centre
Date: June 6, 1998
One of the building blocks for the Otters 2002 OHL Championship, this draft year stands out as one of the best for the Otters. Also the final year of the “never ending” selection process, as the league cut it down to 15 rounds the following year.
First round selection: Brad Boyes was selected 12th overall, even though he was projected as an 11th round pick. The Otters knew something the rest of the league did not, as Boyes went on to a storied career in Erie, where he still holds many team records. A two-time Red Tilson Trophy winner as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player, Boyes finished his Erie career with 309 points and a championship ring. He is currently playing for the Buffalo Sabres in his seventh NHL season.
Notable Selections Who Played in Erie: Second round selection J.F. Perras stymied the opposition with 10 shutouts which is still an Otters record. After three seasons in Erie, he was traded to Ottawa for his overage year in 2001, and then enrolled at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Perras retired from hockey last year after a five-year pro career, mostly in the United Kingdom. Third round selection Brad Yeo was a physical player who put up points during his three years in Erie, as he had 125 in 176 games with the Otters. He is best remembered for scoring late in overtime during Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals against Sault Ste. Marie. Like Perras, he was traded during his overage season. Yeo went to North Bay in exchange for Chris Eade, and he completed his junior career with Plymouth. Also drafted in the third round was Adam Munro, one of the most prolific netminders in Otters history. Munro holds the team record for best career goals-against-average (2.91) and was a first round pick by the Chicago Blackhawks in 2000. Munro played in 17 games for Chicago from 2003 to 2006 and is currently playing in Hungary.
Notable Selections Who Did Not Play in Erie: New Jersey native John Sabo was selected in the eighth round by Erie, but opted to stay with the U.S. National Development Team en route to a four-year career with Boston University. Ninth round selection Matt DeMarchi played four seasons with the University of Minnesota and was a second round pick by the New Jersey Devils in 2000. He played 200 games in the AHL but has made his mark in Italy, where he gained citizenship and has played on their national team for three years. DeMarchi now plays in the second level of hockey in Sweden. Tenth round pick Marc Hyman didn’t start playing for the Rochester Institute of Technology until he was 21, when the program was still in Division III. RIT moved up to Division I in 2005, and Hyman was the first captain of the upgraded program during his senior year.
1999 OHL Priority Selection
Site: Brampton Centre for Sports and Entertainment
Date: June 5, 1999
The draft becomes a weekend long event, with a 15-round selection on Saturday and a separate eight-round selection process for 16 year olds who needed to play another year of lower junior hockey before entering the OHL. Several of the players chosen in this draft would eventually turned into key pieces for the 2002 OHL Championship.
First round selection: The Otters drafted 17 year old forward Scott Rozendal from the Collingwood Blues of the OPJHL. He only put up 31 points in 98 games with the Otters. Rozendal was traded to Oshawa at the 2001 trade deadline in exchange for Brandon Cullen, who was a key part of the Otters run to the 2002 OHL Championship.
Notable Selections Who Played in Erie: Second round pick Riley Moher played in 106 games with the Otters and had the same fate as Rozendal, as Moher was traded before the 2001 trade deadline for an important piece of the 2002 OHL Championship puzzle. He was sent to Sarnia in exchange for Chris Berti. Carlo Colaiacovo ended up as a huge steal for the Otters in the third round, as he would become of the best defensemen in team history. During his four years in Erie, Colaiacovo won the Best Defenseman award three times and twice represented Canada at the World Junior Championship. He was a first round draft pick by the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2001 and he is part of one of the NHL’s top defenses with the St. Louis Blues. Troy Ilijow, a fifth round pick, scored the 1000th goal in Otters history in 2000. He was later part of package that sent fan favorite Cory Pecker from Sault Ste. Marie.
Notable Selections Who Did Not Play in Erie: Neil Komadoski, the son of the NHLer by the same name, was drafted in the ninth round by the Otters. He decided to stay with the U.S. National Development Team and later played four seasons at Notre Dame. Komadoski was drafted by the Ottawa Senators in the third round of the 2001 NHL Entry Draft, but he retired from hockey in 2008 after just three seasons, mostly with Ottawa’s AHL affiliate in Binghamton. 12th round pick Justin DePretis played four seasons of club hockey at Penn State, but managed to play professionally nonetheless. He played three seasons in the pros, mostly with the Flint Generals of the re-born IHL. 14th round selection R.J. Umberger would end up playing three years at Ohio State, where he was an All-American in 2003. The first round pick of the Vancouver Canucks in 2001 is currently in his seventh NHL season with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Notable Selection Who Dressed for Erie: In one of the most unusual circumstances in hockey, 13th round pick Nick Mish could be the only OHL player to have not suited up in a game but still receive penalty minutes. In the record book, Mish is not credited with playing in an OHL game as he dressed as the backup to J.F. Perras during the 1999-2000 season while Adam Munro was injured. At the end of the game on February 19, 2000 in Owen Sound, Mish received a fighting major as he tried to protect teammates from a massive brawl. He was suspended for two games, and the Otters dressed defenseman Marc Higginbotham as the backup goaltender during those games.
1999 16 Year Old Player Selection Process
Site: Brampton Centre for Sports and Entertainment
Date: June 6, 1999
This was the only year of this particular draft, as there were a limited number of players to choose from and the decision was made to pool all players into one draft regardless of age for 2000.
First round selection: Patrick Lamesse from Ottawa was the Otters’ first choice in the 14th spot. After another year in midget, Lamesse made the Otters in 2000 but had just seven points in 30 games. He was part of the deal that sent Cory Pecker on January 3, 2001.
Notable Selections Who Played in Erie: Second round pick Scott Dobben turned into a real offensive threat during the 2001-2002 season and was drafted in the fourth round by the Ottawa Senators in 2002. He was traded to Sault Ste. Marie the following season in a blockbuster deal that sent Rob Hisey to Erie. After completing his OHL career in 2004, he bounced around in the minors for three seasons before retiring in 2007. He decided to play again for Lakehead University in Thunder Bay the following year, and after two years in college Dobben decided to resume his career in Europe, where he is currently playing in Wales. Mike McKeown was drafted in the third round and while he didn’t put up much offense, he was a very solid stay-at-home defenseman during his two and a half seasons in Erie. He was traded to Peterborough in 2003, and eventually enrolled at the University of Western Ontario in London.
Notable Selection Who Did Not Play in Erie: Fourth round selection Joel Kitchen played three seasons for Canisius College before transferring to SUNY-Oswego for his senior year.