5. Marco Costantini
Marco Costantini spent the 2018-19 season with the Hamilton Kilty B’s of the Greater Ontario Junior Hockey League (GOJHL) where he posted a 2.26 GAA and .922 SV% in 29 regular season games. In an additional nine playoff games, he added a 2.79 GAA and a save percentage of .910. His outstanding numbers with the Junior B club and impressive performance at OHL training camp earned himself a spot this past season on the Bulldogs’ roster.
Costantini and fellow netminder Zachary Roy split the season between the pipes with Costantini getting 34 starts and Roy starting 33. Despite a fairly low save percentage of .873 and inflated GAA of 4.34, Costantini managed to keep a young Bulldogs team in games that were projected blowouts.
He consistently played against top teams in the league, such as Peterborough in six of their seven matchups this season, and Ottawa in three of their five matchups where he faced his twin brother, Anthony. Most of these games were close and some he even came out with the win.
Costantini’s experience as a rookie helped him adjust to the pace of the game in the OHL and he is sure to play a big role on the Hamilton back end for the next few seasons.
4. George Diaco
George Diaco came to the Bulldogs from his hometown London Nationals of the GOJHL where he potted 42 points in 47 games in 2018-19. In an added 27 playoff games, Diaco scored 29 points which tied for second on the London Nationals.
In his first season with the Bulldogs, Diaco put up six goals and 18 points in 55 games. He has a similar playing style to former Bulldog and current Iowa Wild player Will Bitten. Alike him, Diaco is a small forward who brings a lot of speed to the team and isn’t afraid to engage in puck battles with players much bigger than him.
Despite playing limited minutes and often on the fourth line, Diaco proved he can play at this level and will be an integral part of the team moving forward.
3. Lawson Sherk
Lawson Sherk spent the 2018-19 season in the Halton Hurricanes Midget AAA hockey program. There, he put up 50 points through 31 regular season games. He added 16 in 11 playoff games and eight points registered in five OHL Cup games. This performance earned him the OMHA SCTA player of the year prior to being drafted in the second round in 2019 by the Hamilton Bulldogs.
The 16-year-old appeared in the Bulldogs’ lineup for all 62 games this season, racking up just five goals and 10 assists for 15 points. Sherk has a lot to offer away from the puck. The 6’1, 175-pound centreman plays a physical game, using his big frame to his advantage against the older players in the league. He also earned a spot on Hamilton’s second power play unit, the only rookie to consistently fill that role throughout the season.
Sherk began to find where he fits in the lineup and what he brings to the team in the second half of the season. He will be a key component on this team as they look to contend again in the near future.
2. Ryan Winterton
Ryan Winterton is another player coming straight from Minor Midget as he played with the Whitby Wildcats AAA team in 2018-19. He finished second on his team in scoring with 72 points in 36 games. Not only that, but he was first in the league with 38 goals. This performance led him to a first-round, eighth overall selection in 2019.
Winterton was second among rookies on the Bulldogs in scoring with 12 goals and 23 points in 55 games. Spending the majority of his time between the second and third lines in Hamilton, he became more consistent as the season progressed and began to look more comfortable in the league as well.
Winterton also represented Canada Black in the World Under-17 Challenge in November 2019. There, he took part in five games where he put up three points while adding three assists.
After quickly adjusting to the pace of the game in the OHL, Winterton showed his potential alongside a few of the team’s top players. The native of Markham, Ontario is sure to be a leader later down the road.
1. Jan Mysak
Jan Mysak came to Hamilton from Litvinov of the Czech league shortly after the conclusion of the World Junior Hockey Championship. During his partial season in Europe, he recorded nine points in 26 games played.
Mysak, 18-years-old, adjusted quickly to the OHL, immediately making an impact the Bulldogs alongside Arthur Kaliyev on the first line. In just 22 games played, Mysak was Hamilton’s leading scorer among rookies, tallying 15 goals and 25 points. This also included two hat tricks. He quickly earned a spot on the first power play and showcased his value as a strong two-way centreman. His abilities at such a young age also earned him a spot on the team’s top penalty kill unit.
Mysak is currently projected as a late first-round draft prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft.
He was a force in the league for the half-season he was there for and him and Kaliyev will be a power duo next season as their games compliment each other well — similar to the chemistry Kaliyev had with Jan Jenik early this season.