Prior to the second leg on Wednesday of the 2019 CIBC Canada Russia Series, The Puck Authority was on-hand at the Sunbridge Hotel to meet with the players before game three on Thursday. This would be the first game of the six-game tournament for Team OHL who kicks things off at The Aud in Kitchener after Team QMJHL kicked things off on Monday.
I caught up with Connor McMichael, 18-year-old defensemen for the London Knights, who said when asked what it is that has attributed to his name being added to Team OHL’s roster, “Yeah, I mean, obviously it’s a dream to represent your country and this is kinda one of the stepping stones along the way to cracking a lineup, so I mean, it’s gonna be exciting and I mean, the game tomorrow should be fun, the Russians look pretty good, so I’m excited.”
McMichael, an NHL Draftee, is in his third season with the OHL’s London Knights and when asked what it is like going from being rivals to taking the ice with his teammates, he said, “Yeah, I mean, it’s a quick turn around obviously, we just played some of them last weekend, but I mean, we’ll have a practice tomorrow morning and obviously try and gel as quick as possible and build some chemistry pretty quickly so hopefully we can beat the Russians tomorrow.”
The Puck Authority also caught up with Ryan Merkley, London Knights defensemen, and when asked about the lessons he’s learned that he’s looking to take into Thursday’s game against Russia, he said, “Yeah, it’ll always be a game, I know whenever we get a chance to play for the OHL all-stars, I mean, it’s gonna be fun, it’s gonna be, playing with guys like McMichael, Byfield and guys like that, it’s gonna be fun to pass to.”
Merkley, an NHL Draftee of the San Jose Sharks in 2018, was also asked if there is anyone in particular that he is excited to play alongside on Thursday. In connection to former teammates, the 19-year-old defensemen enthusiastically said, “Ah, to play with, I don’t know, I’d love to see Byfield, I think he’s a great player, it would be fun to play with him, it would be fun to play with Hillis again. I mean, it would be fun in that area. Playing for like, Dellandrea and stuff, it would be pretty cool.”
Lastly, The Puck Authority spoke with projected No.2 overall Quinton Byfield who said when asked what is like to be recognized for his talent and self accomplishments being added to Team OHL’s roster, “Um, it’s definitely a huge honour, you know, it’s a stepping stone to the World Juniors, just getting that recognition from OHL and knowing that you’re one of the best players in the league. It’s definitely a big accomplishment and I’m just looking forward to be playing tomorrow.”
To hear the three interviews in full, the audio from Wednesday night’s media availability at Sunbridge can be found using the links attached below: