By Darryl G. Smart
There was a real local flavour to another bumper crop of players that the Brantford 99ers produced into Ontario Hockey League draft picks over the weekend.
On Saturday, hundreds of young hockey hopefuls and their families huddled around computers or their devices while the OHL teams made their picks during the league’s 2020 Priority Selection. Among those chosen by OHL teams were five players from the Brantford 99ers minor midget team coached by Scott Rex.
The first to see their name was Gavin Bryant. The left-handed centre from Ingersoll was selected in the second round (37th overall) by the Owen Sound Attack. Bryant was the 99ers leading scorer with 14 goals and 26 assists.
Beau Jelsma was then picked in the third round (55th overall) by the Barrie Colts. From Brownsville, just outside of Tillsonburg, Jelsma’s journey this season had him play only two regular season games and 12 in the playoffs for the 99ers this season. He played with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 15U team notching 26 goals and 17 assists in 53 games.
Tillsonburg’s Brandon Balazs waited for the 10th round (198 overall) to see his name. The right winger that was the 99ers’ top goal scorer with 23, was drafted by the Saginaw Spirit.
The Flint Firebirds were looking for a steady defencemen and they found that in the form of VanNetten in the 11th round (216th overall). VanNetten was the 99ers rock on the blueline. He also showed off his great decision and play making abilities, netting three goals and 25 assists, which was good for the 99ers third leading scorer.
Brantford’s Luke Bibby was then selected by the Attack in the 13th round (250th overall). The left winger netted 14 goals and 12 assists this past season for the 99ers.