Jr. Spitfires produce four OHL Draft picks while former Sun County defenseman lands with Windsor

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The Windsor Jr. Spitfires’ Zone AAA under-16 program has been a model of consistency at the Ontario Hockey League Draft.

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Four members of the club were selected on the second day of the draft on Saturday marking the fourth year in a row the club has produced four draft picks.

“Windsor has a ton of local talent and it’s nice to see it get rewarded,” Jr. Spitfires’ head coach Matt Zuccato said. “We are very proud of our organization and our players.”

Joshua Lepain was the club’s first player taken when the London took the high-scoring winger in the fifth round with the 97th pick overall.

“There’s a big rivalry there and I’m looking forward to being a part of that,” Lepain said of joining the Windsor Spitfires’ conference rivals.

Many had the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Lepain going earlier in the draft after posting 22 goals and 31 points in 21 games. However, he suffered a broken clavicle in a junior B game in February that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

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“It was crazy waiting,” the 16-year-old Lepain said. “Watching (Friday) night, I was a little upset at not being taken in the top three rounds, but then I got picked by London. It’s such a prestigious organization.”

The Saginaw Spirit selected Windsor defenseman Tyler McGuire in the sixth round with the 108th pick overall. McGuire and Lepain were among 76 draft prospects to attend the OHL Development Combine in Oshawa last week.

“Honestly, I was very excited for any team that would come out and draft me,” said the 6-foot-2, 180-pound McGuire, who had four goals and 14 points in 31 games last season. “I’m very glad with how it worked out. I’ve heard great things about Saginaw and I’m glad to get started.”

The 15-year-old McGuire was not the only member of the Jr. Spitfires to land in Saginaw with Windsor forward Griffin Grundner being taken by the Spirit in the 10th round with the 197th selection overall.

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“It means a lot,” said the 15-year-old Grundner, whose brother Gavin Grunder was a ninth-round pick by the Guelph Storm in 2020 and has since signed with the team. “Just hearing your name called with all the other guys and getting a chance to be selected.”

The 5-foot-8, 142-pound Grundner had 15 goals and 33 points in 31 games for Windsor this past season.

“I was just waiting it out,” Grundner said. “It’s truly an honour.”

With the draft winding down, the Barrie Colts selected Windsor forward Noah Mathieson in the 15th round with the 293rd pick overall.

“It was pretty nerve wracking, but I would rather go than not go,” the 16-year-old Mathieson said. “I’m excited to go there and play.”

The 6-foot-2, 173-pound Mathieson had five goals and 24 points in 31 games for the Jr. Spitfires last season.

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“There’s a bunch of lists and you talk to teams, but at the end of the day you don’t know where you’re going until the draft,” the 16-year-old Mathieson said. “I’m happy with the Barrie Colts and happy to be drafted.”

The only other player with area ties selected in Saturday’s draft was defenseman Carson Woodall.

The 15-year-old Woodall played with the Sun County Panthers, but his family moved from Belle River to Toronto and he joined the Marlboros program. He now has a chance to return home and play after the Spitfires selected him in the 10th round with the 202nd pick overall.

“I’m so happy to be able to comeback and see my friends and possibly play in Windsor,” said the 5-foot-10, 160-pound Woodall, who had four goals and 31 points in 46 games last season. “When I saw my name on the board, I was so happy it was Windsor.”

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