Youth hockey in the Triangle reached a major milestone this past weekend when one if its own, Raleigh
’s Matt Gellatly, became the first Junior Hurricanes player to be drafted by a Canadian major junior league.
The Saginaw Spirit of the Ontario Hockey League selected Gellatly (pronounced GELL-at-lee) in the 15th round.
The Enloe High School
junior said he will probably attend the Spirit’s prospect camp this summer, but ultimately hopes to enroll and play at a Division I college.
“It’s pretty amazing, just to think of all the people that have played here that haven’t been drafted,” said Gellatly.
“It’s pretty sweet to be the first one, and hopefully there will be many more to come.”
Gellatly, 17, originally began playing hockey when he received a stick as a gift from his grandparents.
That led to a Junior Hurricanes career that included an appearance at the Nike Bauer tournament in Chicago
and two in the Quebec International Pee-Wee tournament, among others.
Most recently, he scored 36 points in 36 games while captaining the Junior Hurricanes AAA Under-16 team.
“He’s a very big, strong, fast skater, and the big thing is he’s got some good talent out there too,” said Hurricanes Youth and Amateur Hockey Coordinator Paul Strand.
“He can get out there and skate with the best of them and skate with all the kids in the country, and he hits, which is good.”
While Gellatly’s selection is the first of its kind in the area, Strand
said he sees it as a positive sign for the growth of youth hockey in the area.
”I think this is huge,” he said.
“It’s a great start.
We do have some kids out there on the radar that are going to college and are playing junior, but this is the biggest junior league in the world.
If we can get a kid solidified in there, it really shows to the rest of the hockey community that we have kids coming out of North Carolina
and hopefully we can get more and more kids going there.”
Gellatly, a 5'10", 180-pound power forward, was drafted after Junior Hurricanes head coach Clay Cotie recommended him to OHL scouts.
Cotie, a regional scout himself for the Western Hockey League’s Red Deer Rebels, was unable to recommend Gellatly to his own Red Deer
organization since Raleigh
falls out of the WHL’s designated territory for selecting players.
That helped lead to Saginaw
’s selection – one that Gellatly didn’t necessarily see coming when he picked up that stick from his grandparents years ago.
”No, but I’m sure glad that it did,” he said.