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(Updated 10:30 a.m., Aug. 30)
Former Cumberland Baron Cody Ceci makes case to crack 67s lineup
By Fred Sherwin
Orléans Online

Former Cumberland Baron Cody Ceci made a triumphant return to the Ray Friel Centre this week as he proved why the Ottawa 67s picked him 16th overall in this summer's OHL Priority Draft. Fred Sherwin/Photo

Fifteen-year-old Cody Ceci has faced a number of challenges in his life including having to sit out half a season as Hockey Canada decided whether or not he could play for the Peterborough Petes Minor Midget AAA team while he attended Lakefield College prep school.

In his first full season with the Petes, Ceci ended up tied for the team lead in scoring with 24 goals and 53 assists in 64 games. His offensive skills combined with his 6-foot-3, 188lb frame made him one of the highest rated defencemen heading into the OHL Priority Draft.

The Ottawa 67s had him rated in their top 10 overall, so when he was still on the board at 16 they snatched him up with their first pick.

"We had him ranked higher going into the draft and we were fortunate to get him when our pick came up,” says 67s general manager Brian Kilrea.

As happy as the 67s were, the Ceci family was even happier. Not only would Cody be playing in Ottawa, he would be returning to Orleans after going to school in Peterborough for the past two years.

When the 67s announced they were moving their training camp to the Ray Friel Centre where Ceci played for three years with the Cumberland Barons, the symbolism of his signing and return to Orléans came full circle.

Despite his age, he turns 16 on Dec. 21, Ceci is expected to earn a spot in the 67s starting lineup when they play their season opener on Sept. 18 in Sault Ste. Marie.

Even though everyone is projecting him to make the team, Ceci was still nursing a bit of anxiety before training camp opened. He knew the other players were going to be stronger, faster and hit harder than what he's been used to even at the AAA level which is why he spent a good part of the summer in the weight room.

"It's definitely a lot faster than what I'm used to and the guys are a lot bigger," said Ceci after Saturday's scrimmage.

Any butterflies Ceci may have had before training camp disappeared as soon as he stepped on the ice. Not only did he not look out of place, he caused even the club's season veterans to take notice.

"You can see that he’s a big kid who’s very poised and calm with the puck,” noticed 67s veteran D-man Tyler Cuma. “He can handle the physical stuff and he likes to jump into the rush. In a couple of years, he’s going to be a great player. It’s pretty amazing."

That's high praise indeed, but Ceci isn't letting any of the hype go to his head. He's focused on the task at hand to the point where he won't even let himself imagine what it will be like to skate out onto the ice at the Ottawa Civic Centre for the first time.

"No, I'm not thinking about that. I'm just trying to show that I deserve to be here and earn my ice time," said Ceci who is looking forward to trade in his training camp jersey for a real game jersey when the 67s take on the Gatineau Olympiques for their first pre-season game on Friday.

"It's going to be pretty cool. I grew up watching the 67s, so to get a chance to play for them is pretty special."

If the 67s were worried that moving their training camp to the far east end might hurt interest in the club, their worries were quickly dispelled as every scrimmage was well attended. The stands were filled to capacity and finding a spot along the boards was all but impossible.

(This story was made possible thanks to the generous support of our local business partners.)

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Posted Dec. 16