On January 9th, 2021, the Mississauga Steelheads acquired Jake Uberti from the Niagara IceDogs in exchange for a 2023 second-round pick, a 2025 third-round pick, and a 2025 fourth-round pick. Since making his Steelheads debut, Uberti has already suited up on the team’s first line with James Hardie and Luca DelBelBelluz.
He has proved to be a versatile player, as he can play on the wing or up the middle. In terms of an NHL player, he can play a role similar to Toronto Maple Leafs’ forward Alex Kerfoot, but that doesn’t mean he possesses the same skillset. In his first game against the Peterborough Petes, he scored one goal and added an assist on the power play to complete the two-point game.
Let’s take a look at what Uberti has done so far in his Ontario Hockey League (OHL) career and what to expect, as he joins a Steelheads team looking to contend for a championship.
Since being drafted by the IceDogs in the fourth round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, Uberti’s play has gradually improved each season. He provides a physical presence with his more oversized frame, creating space for himself in the offensive zone.
Flashing back to the 2019-20 season, he scored on a one-timer against the Erie Otters, and it came from subtle plays he made in all three zones. It started with him receiving the pass from his defender in the defensive zone and making the intelligent read to pass it up the boards to Ivan Lodnia. After Lodnia wins his one-on-one battle, Uberti recognizes that if he cuts to the middle of the ice, he will have an open shooting lane, as the Otters defender back-checking is nowhere near him. The goal came from being at the right place at the right time through hard work.
Fast forward to the 2021-22 season, he was tasked as being the IceDogs first-line center, playing beside the likes of Daniil Gushchin and Cameron Butler as his wingers. He was named an alternate captain for the team to begin the season, and has proved to be a solid leader for any team.
Uberti has connections to his new city, as he played for the Mississauga Reps Under-16 AAA team in the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL). He was born in Toronto, so he’s even closer to home with this transition.
Steelheads General Manager and Head Coach James Richmond has been following Uberti’s junior career since the very beginning. There’s a lot that the 57-year-old Mississauga native likes about the player and what he adds to the lineup.
“As an organization, we thought it would be a good move to add experience into our lineup,” he said. “We didn’t want to mess around with the chemistry too much. We’ve followed Jake since his days with the Mississauga Reps U16 program, and we believe he will help us in the second half.”
If the time calls for it, Richmond is not opposed to playing Uberti up the middle, giving the team a boost of added confidence.
“Jake played a few shifts for us at center during the game against the [Peterborough] Petes. We have positions on face-offs, but we have a five-person system after that. The biggest thing for Jake is trying to learn our structure, as it’s a bit different than most.”
Uberti has played in just three games for the team since being acquired. According to Richmond, he is currently dealing with an injury that he sustained during practice.
“He said practices are a lot more intense and faster here,” said the Steelheads bench boss. “Maybe he wasn’t ready for that. He wasn’t ready for the hit he took, it’s 50/50 if he will be ready for Tuesday, but it’s funny in the sense that he talked about practices here being a lot more intense and faster.”
Mississauga currently leads the Ontario Hockey League with 54 points and can survive without Uberti until he is fully healthy. The team will play the North Bay Battalion on Friday night at the Paramount Fine Foods Centre.