Attack end "awkward stage" with trade

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Dale DeGray didn’t think it would take nearly a month to unload a top-six forward.


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When Sean Durzi returned from the professional ranks the Owen Sound Attack were forced to juggle four 1998 birth years in three available slots.

Weeks went on as Alan Lyszczarczyk and Trent Bourque rotated from one night wearing a suit and tie in the stands and the next soaking up top-line minutes – depending on the situation.

It was bizarre, but it’s over now. DeGray flipped Lyszczarczyk to the Mississauga Steelheads on Monday for three draft picks – a fifth round pick in 2019, third-round pick in 2020, and eighth-round pick in 2022.

“It did go on longer than I was hoping,” DeGray said by telephone on Wednesday. “For the players involved too, it weighs on their psyche.”

So what happened?

The team’s staff recognized early that one of Bourque or Lyszczarczyk would be the odd-man out, “right or wrong” said DeGray.

The idea of moving one of Kevin Hancock or Sean Durzi – the other two Attack over-age players – never gained any traction inside the team’s ranks.

With that in mind DeGray set out to see what they could get for either player, and then the decision was made internally that Bourque would be staying in Owen Sound.

“It’s pretty obvious the importance that is put on trying to defend, especially with two 17-year-old goalies,” DeGray said.

DeGray said his early discussions with teams around the OHL led him to believe a move would “be something they would be able to get looked after”.

“Then all of the sudden it didn’t fall into place,” he said. “There is nothing I can do if another team decides they’re standing pat, or going in a different direction.”


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The market was slow. Only a handful of teams were able to take on an overage player without making another move, and of those teams a few regarded taking on a veteran as just stripping away development time from their younger players.

DeGray had a winger playing on his first line in Lyszczarczyk who netted 11 points in 10 games, and was struggling to find a fit on another team.

“There was a small number of teams that had interest,” he said, due to the over-age constraints.

“I would tell teams, you pull up any of his numbers from last Christmas on, and they’re outstanding. In the playoffs he was lights out.”

At the end of the story the Steelheads bit.

“It turns out this is what is best for him, us, and Mississauga,” DeGray said.

The move clears the air in Owen Sound. Trent Bourque can get on with what is probably the most important year of his junior hockey career as the sixth-round pick of the St. Louis Blues fights to prove he deserves an entry level contract.

With Lyszczarczyk on a top Eastern Conference team, and most likely in a top-six role on the Steelheads, both players can now enjoy a little stability in their environment.

“It allows us to really start our seasons, because it’s been a very challenging start,” Bourque said.

“It doesn’t ever become hostile, it’s an awkward situation. It just becomes a nasty environment in the room . . . it’s an awkward stage,” Bourque said.

Bourque said the team’s management, coaches and affected players kept a dialogue open throughout the whole ordeal, so there were no “blindsides.”


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He confided in his parents and his sisters who both have experience playing soccer at the collegiate level. He calls them inspirations. He also talked things through with roommate and teammate Kevin Hancock.

“Not knowing if you’re playing, and not knowing where you stand . . . you’re so uncertain and so unsure of what is in store for you,” he said.

In the games Bourque has dressed for Owen Sound he’s been solid. He won’t show up with any regularity on the scoresheet, but he’s a pillar on the backend for Owen Sound.

“It’s about making that simple play and not getting caught. As soon as you try to get out of your comfort zone you’re going to end up coughing the puck up and end up costing the team a goal,” he said of his role.

There’s another tiny wrinkle to the over-age saga.

Ontario Hockey League teams have to narrow their over-age contingent down to four by Nov. 15. With that date right around the corner the Owen Sound Attack are now able to keep Jonah Gadjovich’s name on their roster until mid-January in that fourth slot.

The current Utica Comet has only dressed in four of the team’s games early in the American Hockey League season as the Vancouver Canucks farm squad deals with a bit of a logjam.


Seed and Barnes join Team Canada Red

Nolan Seed and Team Canada Red open up their World Under-17 Hockey Challenge schedule on Saturday against Team Russia.

Joining Seed on Team Canada Red is the Attack’s unsigned 2018 second-round pick Josh Barnes.


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DeGray said he’s had a conversation with Barnes and his father. “I think we made some in-roads.”

Barnes, a highly-skilled forward, has 11 points in 18 games as a 16-year-old playing with the Cornwall Colts of the Central Canada Hockey League.

After the OHL draft he announced a commitment to the Penn State Nittany Lions hockey club of the NCAA.

Scheduling prevents Suzuki Bros. Team OHL pairing

The Hockey Canada brass looked to have really stepped in one when the Team OHL rosters came out for the Canada/Russia Series with Nick and Ryan Suzuki playing on separate nights.

DeGray acted as a “sounding board” to Steve Staois and Hockey Canada in constructing those rosters, and it turns out club-team scheduling is mostly to blame. The Colts have a game in Guelph on Friday night and back in Barrie Saturday, Ryan is scheduled to play in Game 4 of the series in Oshawa on Monday.

As for Nick, the Owen Sound Attack host the Erie Otters on both Saturday and Sunday, so he is planned to suit up on Thursday for Game 3 of the series in Sarnia with teammate Brady Lyle.

Owen Sound’s Markus Phillips will dress for both Canada/Russia games, potentially four games in five nights, that’s a lot of hockey.

The Canada/Russia series serves as another scouting opportunity for international teams ahead of the World Junior Championship.

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