Josh Barraclough is confident he can crack the lineup with the Peterborough Petes this coming season.
The 16-year-old was the first of two players from the Lambton Jr. Sting Minor Midgets taken in the OHL’s Priority Selection earlier this month. Barraclough was selected in the ninth round, 166th overall.
“I think I have the ability to play in the OHL. I have the size and I’m pretty fast,” said the 6’1”, 190-pound former Jr. Sting captain.
“I think I’ll be able to play with the bigger 19 and 20-year-olds out there.”
A meeting with Petrolia-born Petes head coach Jody Hull and Peterborough assistant coach Paul Mattucci when the Petes played the Sting at the RBC Centre last December was the first indication of Peterborough’s interest in the Grade 10 St. Patrick’s High School student.
Barraclough has also played summer hockey with Mattucci’s Ajax-based Metro East team and hopes to play for that same squad again this year.
The Corunna resident heads to Peterborough on Saturday to participate in a mini-camp in hopes of being invited to the main camp in August.
“I hope it’s a really good learning experience,” said Barraclough, who wants to work on his strength and mental toughness during the offseason.
Meanwhile, the Sarnia Sting chose the other local player, undersized defenceman Nash Nienhuis, in the fourteenth round.
Nienhuis is the son of former NHL player Kraig Nienhuis who played parts of three seasons with the Boston Bruins in the 1980’s.
“I’m really excited to see what’s going to happen next,” said the younger Nienhuis, who said taking tips from a former NHLer has been invaluable in his development.
Nienhuis, who describes himself as a quick, agile puck-moving defenceman, is expected to be part of the Sting mini-camp this weekend.
The 15-year-old St. Pat’s student feels he needs to bulk up before having a realistic shot at sticking with the OHL club. He is listed at 5’7” and 142 pounds.
“I honestly don’t think I’m ready yet,” he said.
Lambton Jr. Sting Head Coach Jordan Pennessi said both players have potential to eventually play in the OHL, despite being late round selections.
Pennessi described Barraclough as a team player with a great passion for the game, while Nienhuis has exceptional hockey sense.
“I thought (being drafted) was well-deserved for the both of them,” said Pennessi. “They worked hard all season long.”