In the midst of Junior Hurricanes AAA tryouts, some phenomenal news reinforcing the growth and success of local youth hockey came direct from the hotbed of hockey - Ontario, Canada.
In 2008 the Ontario Hockey League - a Tier I Junior Hockey league which boasts the Plymouth Whalers owned by Carolina Hurricanes owner Pete Karmanos - drafted local product Matt Gellatly, who was playing for the Junior Hurricanes U16 AAA team at the time. Gellatly did well at the Saginaw Spirit main training camp, but opted to attend Taft prep school for the past few seasons.
Eight days ago the area took another step as two more local players were drafted into the OHL Bryan Moore was selected in the 6th round by Sarnia and Mitchell Eisenberg was selected in the 9th round by Erie. Both players played this past season for the U16 AAA Junior Hurricanes, finishing 1-2 in scoring (Eisenberg led the way with 70 points, with Moore close behind with 69). Both players played for the Junior Hurricanes during the Quebec Pee-wee Hockey tournament - Moore in 2006 and Eisenberg in 2007.
Moore is from Charlotte and grew up playing most of his youth hockey in the Charlotte Checkers youth program. He left briefly as a 13-year-old second-year bantam to try playing for Compuware in Detroit, but became a little homesick and found himself back home before Christmas. However, back in Charlotte, Quebec Junior Hurricanes Assistant Coach Mitch Hodgkiss, who was coaching the U16 AA Charlotte Checkers, took Bryan under his wing and helped him continue to develop. Moore then moved to Raleigh this past season to play for the Junior Hurricanes AAA program.
Eisenberg has played most of his hockey in Raleigh for the Raleigh Youth Hockey Association. He has played the past three seasons in the AAA ranks for the Bantam AAA and U16 AAA teams. Eisenberg sees the ice exceptionally well and has always been one of the top playmakers in area. He did very well leading the Junior Hurricanes in scoring on their way to their first-ever National Championship berth at the AAA level.
In addition to Moore and Eisenberg, a few other 15-year-olds were garnering some attention during the draft. Goaltender Sean Romeo and defenseman Trevor Owens both were under consideration by a couple of teams, including the Plymouth Whalers. Owens became the first local product to step right into the United States Hockey League while playing this past season for the Junior Hurricanes.