Jacob Ingham hardly had any time to let the experience sink in. In the sixth-round of the NHL Entry Draft, in Dallas, Texas, he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings.
With the Kings development camp set to begin a couple of days later, the Mississauga Steelheads goaltender needed to find a way back to his hometown of Barrie to pick up his goalie gear and grab a flight to Los Angeles.
He booked a flight to California from Toronto Pearson International Airport at 10 a.m. the next morning, but getting back to Canada was a challenge. He flew out of Dallas to Baltimore, where his connection to Buffalo Niagara International Airport would end up being delayed an hour. He got to Buffalo at 2 a.m. but, once there, his luggage was lost. An hour later they got in the car and drove to Barrie, arriving at 5:30 a.m.
“I didn’t sleep and I didn’t eat anything,” said Ingham, who needed to beat rush-hour traffic to get to the Toronto for around 8 a.m. “It was pretty much go home, pack my bags and take a quick shower. The family was with me and it was back in the car and off to Toronto. It was pretty funny, but I’m lucky to have this experience, have this opportunity ahead of me.”
Despite the whirlwind few days, Ingham wouldn’t change a thing. Hearing his name called by the Kings with the 175th overall pick on June 23 is an experience he will always cherish.
“I waited through almost six full rounds and I thought like it was never going to happen,” said the 18-year-old in a telephone interview from Los Angeles. “Just hearing my named called … I gave the biggest hugs to my parents ever because they’ve done the most for me and they’ve been the best role models for me in my life.”
The preparation and work for this day started almost 15 years ago, when he first fell in love with the game. While there’s plenty of process left with having him play his way to an NHL contract and breaking into the league, he’s put himself in position to take that next step.
“It’s something special to have it happen and to have the paths start to align,” said the six-foot-three, 185-pound former Barrie Colts triple-A minor midget, who had his parents, sister and cousin Austin Heinrich, also his best friend, with him at the draft.
Ingham finds it funny now that the first NHL organization he ever talked to was the Kings, when they interviewed him as a 16-year-old rookie with the Steelheads. The Kings talked to him again during this season and at the NHL Combine before the draft.
“It sounded really positive,” he said. “They liked what I was doing. Going into the draft I wasn’t too sure. I didn’t really have (Los Angeles) honestly as one of the teams that were going to take me and it was a nice surprise.”
There were plenty of other local names that had their NHL draft day dreams come true. To no one’s surprise Barrie Colts winger Andrei Svechnikov went second overall to the Carolina Hurricanes. The OHL rookie of the year and Barrie’s 2018 first overall CHL Import pick lived up to the hype, scoring 40 goals and recording 72 points despite playing in just 44 games.
“It feels great and I’m super happy,” said the 18-year-old, who attended the draft with his parents and older brother Evgeny Svechnikov, a member of the Detroit Red Wings. “It was my dream and it came true. This is just the best moment of my life.”
The six-foot-three, 184-pound native of Barnaul, Russia has the tools to become a franchise player with the Hurricanes, who brought him down to Raleigh, North Carolina two weeks before the draft. Carolina general manager Don Waddell said the team decided about a month ago Svechnikov was their man.
“Goal scoring is at a premium,” Waddell said on CanesVision. “We all know, it doesn’t matter what level you’re at, it’s hard to score goals. When you have a player like this, you watch the style he plays and the way he drives the net, the way he comes off the wing.
“There’s an old Hurricane who used to play for Carolina named Erik Cole that did the same thing. Coming off his off wing and driving to the net. Andrei certainly looks like a player who is not afraid to go to the net and when he goes to the net he goes hard. He shoots the puck so well, so when you look at the ability he has, he can be a game changer for you.”
While it’s expected Svechnikov will make the jump to the NHL this season, the power forward believes coming to Barrie helped him get where he is today.
“I think we had a good season, but I can’t be satisfied because we lost in the second round,” Svechnikov said. “I’m honoured to be on the same group as Barrie and just to be with Dale Hawerchuk. He’s a great (coach) you know. It was fun.”
Svechnikov’s teammate, Joey Keane was the next Colt to hear his name called. The Homer Glen, Illinois native was selected by the New York Rangers in the third round (88th overall) after a breakout second season in Barrie in that saw him score 12 goals and record 44 points in 62 games. Named to the third all-star team, Keane led all OHL blueliners with a plus-45 rating.
Beeton native Connor Corcoran is a new member of the Vegas Golden Knights. The Windsor Spitfires defenceman was selected in the fifth-round (154th overall) by the Stanley Cup finalists.
“Coming to the draft, I didn’t know what was going to happen,” he said. “I was hoping everything was going to go well. I think everything happens for a reason and obviously knew I wasn’t going to get drafted the first day. The second day I was hoping my luck was good and hopefully a team like Vegas would draft me.”
Corcoran was a rookie member with the 2017 Memorial Cup champion Spitfires, but he played a much bigger role on their blue line this season. The former Barrie Colts minor midget finished the year with three goals and 21 assists in 63 games with a rebuilding Windsor team.
“I just tried to take a lot from the older guys last year,” said the six-foot-two, 185-pound defender. “We had a lot of guys signing in the NHL and a couple of them playing this year in the NHL. I tried taking what I learned from them and help the younger guys this year. I took a bigger role on the back end and tried to be a leader.”
Former Barrie Colts minor midget Dennis Busby may have missed all but two games with the Flint Firebirds last season after injuring his clavicle, but that didn’t stop the Arizona Coyotes from selecting the second-year defenceman in the fifth round (145th overall).
“We saw him as a 16-year-old and we knew he was a player we had to keep our eye on this year,” Coyotes director of scouting Tim Bernhardt told Coyotes TV. “We saw him early at the Canadian camp last summer. He was very close to making the Ivan Hlinka (Memorial Cup) team for Canada. He was one of the last cuts.”
The St. Louis Blues used the 200th overall pick in the seventh round to select Colts defenceman Tyler Tucker. A first-round pick (14th overall) by Barrie in the 2016 OHL draft, Tucker had three goals and 27 points in his second season with Barrie and plays the game with a physical edge that the Blues love.
“This kid is all character,” Bill Armstrong, St. Louis director of amateur scouting, told Blues TV. “He’s an old school (defenceman). He’ll fight. The one thing about him is he has the will to make a difference in the game. His compete level is off the charts. He just uses his body to battle. He’s a warrior out there.”
For Ingham, he’s happy taking in his first pro skate with the Kings and is looking forward to getting home to his family in Barrie after the four-day camp. He’s also looking forward to meeting up with his grandparents who came down from Sault Ste. Marie to take care of the family dog while they were at the draft.
They decorated the Ingham home with black and silver streamers and Los Angeles Kings balloons.
“They were pretty excited, so I told them not to take the decorations down until I get home and can kind of take a deep breath,” said Ingham, who also got to FaceTime his other grandparents, who live in Winnipeg, at the draft in Dallas.
ICE CHIPS: Other Colts players invited to take part in development camps included forwards Jaden Peca (Arizona), Zach Magwood (Nashville) and TJ Fergus (Toronto). . . Former Colt Curtis Douglas was taken in the fourth round (106th overall) by the Dallas Stars. The big six-foot-eight centre was dealt to Windsor before last Christmas. . . Jack McBain, a 2016 first-round pick of Barrie who has committed to play NCAA Division 1 hockey at Boston College, was the first pick of the third round by the Minnesota Wild.
PHOTO: Barrie native and Mississauga Steelheads goaltender Jacob Ingham was selected by the Los Angeles Kings in the sixth round in this year’s NHL Entry Draft. Terry Wilson/OHL Images photo