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Ekblad earns four top honors in OHL coaches poll

by Mike G. Morreale

Barrie Colts defenseman Aaron Ekblad, No. 3 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, won top honors in four different categories in the Eastern Conference of the Ontario Hockey League.

The results of the OHL Coaches Poll, which enables teams from each conference to recognize the top three players in 20 different categories, were released Wednesday in Toronto.

Ekblad, considered to be the top draft-eligible defenseman on the board this season, earned first-place finishes for best shot, hardest shot, best offensive defenseman and best defensive defenseman. He also was voted second in the category of best penalty killer, behind Philadelphia Flyers prospect and Oshawa Generals forwards Scott Laughton.

Kingston Frontenacs center Sam Bennett, No. 1 on Central Scouting's midterm list, was first in three categories in the Eastern Conference including smartest player, best playmaker and best stickhandler. He was voted third for best defensive forward.

Peterborough Petes power forward Nicholas Ritchie, No. 7 on Central Scouting's midterm report, was named the best body checker in the Eastern Conference and No. 10 Anthony DeAngelo of the Sarnia Sting was named top offensive defenseman in the Western Conference.

Oshawa Generals forward Michael Dal Colle, No. 5 on the midterm list, was second in the categories of best stickhandler and best playmaker in the Eastern Conference. Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic, No. 5 on Central Scouting's midterm list of the top North American goalies, placed second among Western Conference keepers as best shootout goalie.

Erie Otters center Connor McDavid, who is eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft in Florida, tied for the Western Conference lead with three first-place finishes, including best playmaker, best skater and, for the second straight season, best stickhandler.

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