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Voodoos’ D’Agostino heating up in rookie season

After adjusting to the big jump from minor hockey to Junior A, Powassan Voodoos forward Brendan D’Agostino has taken off, registering 28 points in his last 21 games, including a 13-game point streak. PHOTO BY CHRIS DAWSON.

A 5-foot, 9-inch forward drafted in the 14th round of the Ontario Hockey League Priority Selection might not strike you as the most promising prospect.

But in just his first year in junior hockey with the Powassan Voodoos of the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League, Brendan D’Agostino is making a strong case for playing up to the potential that North Bay Battalion brass drafted him for. 

“It’s been a very big jump from minor midget to junior hockey, just with the size and how fast the guys are,” D’Agostino explained before registering two assists against the Cochrane Crunch last weekend. “But overall I think I have made the jump pretty well.”

While D’Agostino doesn’t exactly tower over his opponents, his ability to make the jump to the junior level and become one of his team’s go-to offensive threats has caught the attention of team brass.

“D’Agostino’s play speaks for itself; he’s not afraid to go to the tough areas and does what it takes to get the job done,” said Voodoos head coach Scott Wray.

“He always comes to the rink ready to play,” Wray continued. “He is the type of player that really enjoys himself on and off the ice; he always has a smile on his face.”

Whether you chalk it up to playing on an expansion team or just adjusting to a new, higher level of play, the native of Stoney Creek, Ont., didn’t get off to the ideal start on the Voodoos’ roster.

With just three points through his first 10 games, D’Agostino says it took some time to become accustomed to the higher level.

But after scoring a goal against the Mattawa Blackhawks in mid-October, D’Agostino turned a corner and began picking up offensive momentum quickly, despite considering himself the more defensively responsible player on his line.

In the 21 games since that night, the 16-year-old has gone on a tear, registering 28 points, including a 13-game point streak that started in early November and stretched all the way until just before Christmas.

“At the beginning of the season, I wasn’t having the best of luck, but lately the bounces have been going my way and I’ve been very fortunate,” D’Agostino said modestly.

“Lately I’ve been working a lot harder and I’ve been wanting the puck more,” he continued. “I think I’ve been getting rewarded for that a little bit more with ice time and opportunities as well.”

Last Spring, D’Agostino was one of 13 players on his minor hockey team, the Hamilton Jr. Bulldogs, to be selected in the OHL Priority Selection. D’Agostino himself was taken by the Battalion in the final round of the draft after amassing 16 goals and 25 assists in 40 games with the Bulldogs.

Having now played half a season in the Battalion system, practicing with the team occasionally, and proving himself to be an offensive asset to supplement his sound defensive game, D’Agostino says his sights are set firmly on cracking the OHL roster come September.

“I’ve been working really hard and I hope they have been recognizing it,” D’Agostino said of the Battalion and Voodoos brass. “It’s been a great opportunity to be around the big team and it shows me what I have to aim for in the future if I’m going to play in the OHL.

“They have said they just want to see me get bigger and put on some muscle weight so I can fit in at that level better,” he continued. 

And he knows what is expected of him on the ice now that he has set a new standard for his game.

But with 21 games still left to be played in the Voodoos’ regular season, D’Agostino said his first priority is to his current team; the next level will have to wait, for now.