Stoykewych Pumped to join 67’s as Assistant Coach
The Ottawa 67’s are on a serious mission. Following a dominant 2022/23 regular season, which saw the 67’s capture the East Division title and finish first overall with a franchise-best 51 wins and 107 points, things didn’t go according to plan in the playoffs.
The playoff journey started well for Ottawa, who needed only five games to defeat the Oshawa Generals in a best-of-seven first-round series.
Unfortunately, Ottawa fans, players, and management alike would experience raw disappointment as they were eliminated in round 2 of the OHL playoffs in six games by the eventual OHL champs Peterborough Petes.
This season will see some new players on the 67’s and the addition of new assistant coach Paul Stoykewych. “Obviously, I’m excited, thrilled, proud and humbled to be on the coaching staff of this great organization. I understand the pressure. It’s an amazing feeling. This is such a premier organization.”
Stoykewych, who is only 28 years old and a former Western Michigan University (NCAA) defenceman, added, “I’ve been with this group for about a month and a half, and I recognized what a competitive group this is.
It’s an exciting and talented core. It’s a healthy competition, and we expect it to continue throughout the season. The athletes all did fantastic in their fitness testing. We’re trying to win every game and build chemistry. “The goal of our staff is to be as prepared as we can from top to bottom come the opening of playoffs.”
Prior to getting hired, Stoykewych had gained experience as an assistant coach with Western University, RINK Hockey Academy’s U16 program and most recently, the Ottawa Gee-Gees. “Dave (Cameron) and I were having breakfast, and James Boyd (GM) called and made it (hiring) official. That was on Father’s Day. I called my father and let him know. We were both ecstatic.”
Heading into the season, Ottawa named veteran forward and Columbus Blue Jackets draft pick Luca Pinelli as the 20th captain in franchise history.
Pinelli, who was selected at the 2023 draft fourth round, 114th overall by the Blue Jackets, is coming off a strong second year with the 67’s, which saw him score 29 goals and 63 points, along with 60 penalty minutes and an impressive solid +30. “Luca leads by example,” Stoykewych said. “He just needs to be himself. “We have a great leadership group. I’m excited to see them grow.”
The leadership group also consists of four assistant captains in: Brady Stonehouse (57 pts. last year), Will Gerrior (35 pts. last year), Thomas Sirman (27 pts. last year) and Matthew Mayich (22 pts.).
Ottawa fans will be entertained this winter by quite a few highly skilled young talents either looking to make their mark in the OHL or striving to build on solid seasons. Among the young talent looking to make his mark with Ottawa include forward Nic Whitehead, who Ottawa selected in the second round, 23rd overall in the 2023 draft.
This 16-year-old had an impressive pre-season, which saw him score two goals in four games while also playing strong defensive hockey. Ottawa 67 fans should really enjoy watching this talent.
“Nick is a fantastic edition,” Stoykewych said. “He’s incredibly skilled and is unbelievably kind and respectful. He has a thirst for knowledge, and I’m excited to have him.” Whitehead, who stands 5’10” and 154 pounds, is from Longwood, Florida.
Meanwhile, some other young talent looking to have great seasons include Charlie Hilton, Henry Mews and Frank Marrelli, to name just a few. Hilton showed a scoring touch last year by producing 23 goals and 45 points with the Oshawa Generals U18 AAA team. Mews, who is 17 years-old defenceman from Ottawa, is coming off a strong rookie campaign with Ottawa, which saw him produce 12 goals, 31 points and 35 penalty minutes. Marrelli, who also plays defence, is also coming off a strong season, which saw the 17 year old score 4 goals and 16 points while racking up 65 penalty minutes.
“The players will determine ice time,” Stoykewych said regarding the young players. “They will get their opportunity.” Training camp saw about seven players from the team away at their respective NHL training camps. As a result, the 67’s went about a couple of weeks without a full squad workout.
The regular season got off on the wrong foot for Ottawa, who, on Friday, September 29th, kicked off the 2023-24 season with a 5-2 loss at Ottawa’s TD Place Arena.
Despite the loss, enthusiasm and expectations are high for the 67’s, who are striving to have a historic season to remember.
Header Photo: Ottawa 67’s Captain Luca Pinelli during a game against the Peteborough Petes at the Arena at TD Place on September 29, 2023. (Photo by Tim Austen/Tim Austen/OSEG/Ottawa 67’s)