Story by Jeff Gard/Total Sports Quinte
With a record 12 players drafted – the most since 11 were chosen in 2015 – it was a successful 2022 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection for the Quinte Red Devils U16 team.
It didn’t take long for the first local player to be taken off the board.
Madoc’s Ben Danford was selected in the first round, 14th overall by the Oshawa Generals on Friday as the first three rounds got underway.
“It was a surreal feeling and still hasn’t sunk in yet,” Danford, a lefthanded defenceman, said. “Being drafted to Oshawa makes it that much more special.”
Danford watched the livestream of the OHL draft with family, including his parents, sisters and grandparents, and didn’t know he was going to be selected by the Generals, but hoped to be.
“They are such an amazing organization to be a part of with top-notch people and it seemed the best fit for me,” he said. “Close to home and an unreal facility makes it pretty sweet, too.”
Danford heard from a few members of the organization, including general manager Roger Hunt.
“He congratulated me and said the work is just getting started, which makes me excited for what’s in store. Some players reached out as well which was really awesome.”
After starting his minor hockey career in his hometown for the Centre Hastings Grizzlies, Danford went on to play eight seasons of triple-A hockey with the Red Devils organization.
“I was very fortunate to be a part of such an amazing organization here in Quinte,” he remarked. “I had unbelievable coaches and teammates throughout the years that taught me how to be a hockey player, but especially a good person and I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Belleville’s Braedyn Rogers, a righthanded defenceman, was selected in the second round, 30th overall by the Owen Sound Attack, the same club that drafted defenceman Cal Uens of the Red Devils early in the third round last year.
“It was truly an honour being drafted by the Owen Sound Attack. I have heard nothing but good things about the Attack and it’s nice to know that Cal Uens from Quinte will be there to support me along the way,” Rogers said.
“Right after I heard my name was called, I got a call about 10 minutes after from (general manager) Dale DeGray of the Attack. It was very cool to just talk to him as he welcomed me to the team. It was also very cool to receive messages from other guys that play on the team.”
His father, Casey Rogers, was an OHL draft pick of the Owen Sound franchise when it was known as the Platers.
“It was pretty ironic as we talked about how cool it would be to go there before the draft,” Rogers said.
Now a draft pick of the Attack, the younger Rogers began playing with the Belleville Jr. Bulls at the tyke and novice levels before making the jump to triple-A with the Red Devils.
“Playing almost all of my minor hockey with the Quinte Red Devils was truly a great experience and wouldn’t have wanted to do it with any other team,” Rogers said. “From coaches and managers to the people on the board of Quinte, they are top-notch and treat everyone like family. It seems like each year the organization of Quinte is producing top-notch players and I can’t wait to see the players in the future go through an amazing organization.
“I can’t thank my coaches, the Quinte organization, family and friends enough for the support they have given me and don’t think I would be here without them today.”
In the third round on Friday night, defenceman Reed Gee was selected by the Flint Firebirds with pick No. 46 overall and defenceman Carson Campbell was taken by the Sarnia Sting at No. 60.
Other Red Devils selected, as rounds four through 15 were completed on Saturday, were: centre Ethan Toms, 4th round (67th overall) Oshawa Generals; centre Jared Langdon, 4th round (74th overall) Owen Sound Attack; goaltender Michael McIvor, 4th round (83rd overall) North Bay Battalion; defenceman Jared Woolley, 6th round (105th overall) London Knights; goaltender Glen McInnes, 7th round (133rd overall) Barrie Colts); right wing Beckett Ewart, 10th round (201st overall) North Bay Battalion; right wing Thomas Kuipers, 13th round (245th overall) Erie Otters; and centre Brody Partridge, 13th round (249th overall) Peterborough Petes.
Danford, after his early selection, followed the rest of the draft with keen interest.
“I’m also very proud of my teammates accomplishments as 11 of them got selected,” he said.