Five Buffalo Jr. Sabres alumni are suiting up for the Canisius College Golden Griffins D-1 hockey program for the 2015-2016 season, part of an impressive roster stacked with OJHL alums.
Josh Kielich, Ryan Schmelzer, Nolan Sheeran, Daniel LaFontaine and Joshua Gabriel are all among the OJHL graduates now using their talent at the AHA level with Canisius – a team that plays at the same rink as the Jr. Sabres: the First Niagara Rink at HARBORCENTER.
Kielich registered 81 points (31-50) in 93 regular-season games with the Jr. Sabres between 2011 and 2013. He’s in his third season with the Griffs and has put up 11 points (1-10) in 34 games.
Schmelzer played with the Jr. Sabres between 2010 and 2014, putting up 138 points (52-86) in 131 regular-season games with the OJHL club. Now in his sophomore season at Canisius, he’s registered 28 points (9-19) and a plus-17 in 53 collegiate matches.
Sheeran spent the good part of two seasons (and a little more) with Buffalo between 2011 and 2013. He totaled 102 points (37-65) in 116 regular-season games and added 21 points in as many playoff games. He’s put up 13 points (3-10) in 52 collegiate games.
LaFontaine spent parts of two seasons with the Jr. Sabres between 2013 and 2015, appearing in 47 regular-season games with the team. He put up 36 points, including nine goals and 27 assists. Now in his first year with Canisius, he’s registered three goals in 10 games, two of which have come in conference play.
Also in his first season with the Griffs, Gabriel has appeared in 15 of 17 games for the club, including 11 of 12 conference matches. Though he has yet to hit the scoresheet, he’s registered 15 shots this season and is one of the least-penalized players on Canisius. He put up 67 points (31-36) in 78 games with the Jr. Sabres between 2012 and 2015.
OJHL TALENT ALL AROUND
Canisius College’s D-1 men’s hockey program isn’t just a hotbed for Buffalo Jr. Sabres alumni, but for alumni of the Ontario Junior Hockey League in general. In addition to the five aforementioned players, an additional six OJHL alums are also on the roster for the 2015-2016 hockey season.
That includes defenseman Ian Edmondson, forwards Matt McLeod, Jeff Murray, Josh Supryka, Shane Conacher and Ralph Cuddemi.
Edmondson, a freshman, hails from Toronto, Ontario and previously played for the St. Michael’s Buzzers. He spent four seasons there, including winning the 2013 OJHL Championship and Buckland Cup and captaining the team last season.
McLeod, a freshman from Mississauga, spent two seasons in the OJHL. He finished his junior career with the Oakville Blades, a team with which he registered 32 points (7-25) in 74 games. Overall, he played 114 games in the OJHL, totaling 51 points.
Murray, now a sophomore at Canisius, previously played for the Whitby Fury and Newmarket Hurricanes. A native of Newmarket, his best season came with Whitby, when he recorded 65 points (35-30). He was invited to Canada East’s selection camp for the 2013 World Junior A Challenge.
Supryka, a Belleville native and former Wellington Dukes forward, is now a freshman at Canisius. He spent two years with the Dukes, totaling 45 points – including 31 points (14-17) in 54 games in the 2014-15 season.
Conacher, now in his junior year with the Griffs, previously played for the St. Michael’s Buzzers and Burlington Cougars in the OJHL. He led the Buzzers to the 2013 league championship, also earning the league’s Playoff MVP title that season.
Cuddemi, a senior at Canisius, just registered both his 50th collegiate goal and 100th collegiate point. He played for the Mississauga Chargers and led the team in scoring in the 2011-12 season with 63 points (27-36) in 46 games.
Current Buffalo Jr. Sabres David Baskerville (2016), Michael Bevilacqua (2017) and Tucker Weppner (2017) are also committed to Canisius and set to join the ranks of Jr. Sabres alums on the Golden Griffins in the years to come.