Spitfires nab a pair of first-round caliber picks at Cristoforo, Greentree in OHL Draft with Spellacy a possible steal

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Windsor Spitfires general manager Bill Bowler may have emerged with a pair of first-round caliber players after Friday’s first three rounds of the Ontario Hockey League draft.

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The Spitfires had to wait for the 22nd pick in the first round before selecting defenseman Anthony Cristoforo from the Toronto Jr. Canadiens’ minor midgets. In the second round, Windsor grabbed dynamic striker Liam Greentree from the minors Markham Majors. Each player player had earned a top 15 rating from various scouting services.

“Every pick you get, you think you got your man, but a million percent,” Bowler said of the first two picks. “Cristoforo has arguably played in the best team in his age group and, in our opinion, is the best defender. Seeing Greentree sitting at 34 was a surprise, but I can’t wait to see them both here.

Both Cristoforo and Greentree plan to attend Saturday’s playoff game at the WFCU Center.

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“I probably won’t sleep tonight because I’m excited to get to Windsor,” Cristoforo said of the selection. ” I am very excited. I don’t even know what to say. I’m super excited and wish camp was tomorrow.

The 5-foot-11, 178-pound Cristoforo is known for his well-balanced game.

“In my option, he should have gone higher,” Greentree said of his new teammate. “I’ve played against him for the past three years. I think he’s really good and I’m happy to play with him.

A right-handed defenseman, Cristoforo had 15 goals and 78 points in 56 games with the Junior Canadiens, but Bowler said he’s a guy you also want to take out with a five-for-three penalty kill.

“He exudes leadership and I can’t wait to see him in a Spits uniform,” Bowler said.

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He will grow over time, but Cristoforo’s level of competition already allows him to win most one-on-one battles.

“I’m a guy who can play in any situation,” Cristoforo said. “I can play a goal, an undergoal, a power play or a penalty kill. I can offend, but not at the expense of the defense. I think I play with a lot of heart. If you’re 5-7 or 6-2, I have to play you as hard as I can.

Scouts were thrilled with the top-notch skill of the 6-foot-2, 193-pound Greentree, who had 13 goals and 25 points in 23 games while playing on Markham’s right side.

“It’s just tough to play against with a great level of competition and good hockey sense,” Bowler said of Greentree.

A power winger, Greentree said there was no disappointment in sliding to the Spitfires in the second round.

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“It’s an unreal moment,” Greentree, 16, said. “I’ve never felt like this before. The last seven-eight years of hockey, summer hockey and training, all that.

“It was a bit surprising (to slip), but I love it. You know what, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is getting drafted and it looks like a great place.

Cristoforo agreed with Greentree. While the first lap was a goal, landing in the right spot is just as important.

“I wanted to go to the first round, but the situation is better than the choice,” said Cristoforo. “I wanted the first (round), but a good situation was something I wanted more and I think it worked for me. »

Bowler rolled the dice in the third round taking on American center AJ Spellacy, who played for the Cleveland Barons 15’s.

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“He was one of the last cut in the (United States Development Program) and he’s great at football as well,” Bowler said of the 6-foot-3, 190-pound Spellacy. “He decides if hockey is his way forward, but he’s a big, strong center who can move and could be the flight of the draft.

Spellacy, who plays free safety and wide receiver in football, didn’t cross Windsor off his list.

“Windsor was the team I wanted to go with,” said Spellacy, 16, who also plans to attend Saturday’s playoff game. “It’s quite surreal.

“I lean towards the OHL and have been thinking about it for a while. I’ll be there (Saturday), see what it’s like and go from there.

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