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Malcolm Spence Is Coming For The OHL

The GTHL player of the year and OHL Cup champion is also the potential first pick overall this spring.
Malcolm Spence

For the record, underage center Michael Misa led the Mississauga Senators in tournament scoring as the team won the U16 OHL Cup final over the archrival Toronto Jr. Canadiens. But in terms of rugrats placated, no one could touch Malcolm Spence.

In the wake of Mississauga's victory, Spence was consistently swarmed by young fans on the ice of what used to be known as Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto (now known as the Mattamy Athletic Centre). And the charismatic left winger made sure every kid who wanted one got their picture with him; every program or stick blade signed with an autograph.

It's that kind of attitude that bodes well for Spence, the potential first overall pick in this year's OHL draft and a key member of a Senators team that was ranked No. 1 in the province for most of the season until one bad week in the Greater Toronto Hockey League playoffs forced Mississauga to win a Wild Card game against Ajax-Pickering just to qualify for the OHL Cup.

"Adversity, right?" Spence said. "You need it. The only thing you can do is work and improve from it."

And work they did. The Sens lost one round-robin game in the tournament - to the Jr. Canadiens - but got revenge with an overwhelming 6-2 win in the final. Spence's coach credited the left winger with getting the team back on track early in the round robin.

"His energy is absolutely incredible," said Chris Stevenson. "The turning point in the tournament for us was when he caught fire against Elgin-Middlesex and got the hat trick. The confidence in the team came back, the energy came back and we started having fun again."

The Senators were a pretty compelling story as many of the players had been with Stevenson since they were six or seven years old. Those Mississauga teams dominated over the years and often clashed with the Jr. Canadiens at the top of the GTHL. This was actually the first year the Senators hadn't yet won a tournament, but as Stevenson noted, they saved the best for last.

Spence, who is originally from Burlington, Ont., is in his fourth season with the Sens and said the decision was a no-brainer, calling Stevenson the best coach he's ever had. Having familiarity with teammates has also been an obvious plus for Spence and his fellow Sens.

"It creates a lot of chemistry," he said. "These guys know where I like to go and I know where they like to go. It's just been fun, honestly. We're a fun group and we love each other."

Next season, they'll all go their separate ways: Bank on a healthy dose of Senators to be taken in the first round of the OHL draft and beyond. And Spence could very well be the first player taken overall.

This year, the OHL will hold an equally-weighted lottery for the four teams that do not make the playoffs and there's a sense that a number of those potential franchises favor Spence if they get the No. 1 selection for April 29th. So what will a team be getting in the youngster?

"Electricity," Stevenson said. "He's got a man's shot, elite speed, his attitude is contagious and he's an incredible kid on and off the ice. He's just fun to be around and I'm sure he's going to be successful at the next level."

The GTHL player of the year, Spence likes to watch NHL superstars such as Nathan MacKinnon and Leon Draisaitl.

"MacKinnon definitely has the speed I try to model my game after and Draisaitl loves to slow down the game," he said. "And they both have a powerful release."

When it comes to his favorite NHL team, Spence prefers an Eastern Conference squad.

"The Pittsburgh Penguins are by far my favorite team," he said. "I've loved them since I was young. Ever since I saw Crosby score the Golden Goal, I've followed him wherever he's gone."

Like the majority of high-end hockey players, Spence played multiple sports growing up including basketball and soccer. His dad played basketball and football, while his mom runs a dance studio. Spence tried a few dance lessons when he was younger, but they didn't take. On the other hand, his mom's experience in the competitive dance world has translated over to his hockey career.

"I love having her around," Spence said. "She's like another coach because she gets how things work. She's pretty close to my coach too, because they understand each other."

And whichever OHL team drafts Spence will quickly understand what kind of character kid they're getting in Spence. The fact he can put up a bunch of points won't hurt, either.

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