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Sam on Sports: M’Chigeeng teen chosen to compete in GTHL showcase match

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M’Chigeeng First Nation member Kohyn Eshkawkogan has been selected to play in next month’s GTHL Top Prospects Game. – Photo by Kevin Eshkawkogan

By Sam Laskaris

CALEDON— An Anishinabek teen is being recognized for his solid play this season in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL).

Kohyn Eshkawkogan, a 15-year-old defenceman who is a member of M’Chigeeng First Nation on Manitoulin Island, has been selected to take part in the GTHL’s Top Prospects Game, which will be staged Jan. 17 in Toronto.

The contest features 40 of the top U-16 AAA players participating in the GTHL. Eshkawkogan is a member of the North York Rangers U-16 AAA squad.

“It means a lot to me,” Eshkawkogan said of the fact he was selected to take part in the showcase contest. “I feel like I’ve been recognized for the hard work that I’ve put in this year.”

Eshkawkogan has been starring with the Rangers during the 2023-24 campaign. He’s the club’s top scoring defenceman, having racked up 26 points (seven goals and 19 assists) in his team’s first 37 regular season and tournament matches.

He’s already surpassed the 17 points in 54 games he had earned in his first GTHL season last year. Eshkawkogan had spent the 2022-23 season with the Reps Hockey Club’s U-15 AAA team.

Though it is just one match, Eshkawkogan has added incentive to impress during next month’s Top Prospects Game.

That’s because he’s also eligible to be chosen in the 2024 Ontario Hockey League Priority Selections draft.

Turning some heads in a match featuring many of the best draft eligible players from the GTHL would certainly be a plus.

“I think it could help a lot,” said Eshkawkogan, who is 5-foot-9 and weighs 160 pounds. “If I play well, it could help my draft stock go up quite a bit.”

One of Eshkawkogan’s goals is to get drafted by an OHL franchise, but he has yet to make up his mind of whether he actually wants to eventually play in the league.

Eshkawkogan, who is a Grade 10 student at The Hill Academy in Caledon, is also excelling in the classroom. He currently has an average of about 87 per cent.

Thus, he’s keeping the door open about his hockey future. Instead of trying to pursue playing in the OHL at the Major Junior level, he could continue to develop for a couple more seasons at a lower junior level in the hopes of securing an athletic scholarship from an American-based school that competes in the NCAA.

Eshkawkogan had attended part of the 2023 Top Prospects Game as a fan and was keen to develop and be named to the game for 2024.

“It was in the back of my mind,” he said.

Eshkawkogan is also doing his best to help the Rangers. His club registered a 16-4-0 record in its first 20 league matches.

The North York squad was just one point behind the 16-3-1 Toronto Marlboros and three points behind the 16-1-3 Vaughan Kings.

Eshkawkogan believes all three clubs are capable of going on to win the GTHL championship this season.

“We’re all pretty even,” he said. “It’s just a matter of who shows up to play.”

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