While the Kingston Frontenacs are going to have to wait a little longer to possibly move into a playoff position in the Ontario Hockey League’s Eastern Conference, there was no holding back underage rookie forward Shane Wright on Sunday afternoon.
Wright, while the Frontenacs were mounting an impressive four-goal second-half comeback (only to lose the game 5-4 when the Mississauga Steelheads scored with 54 seconds left in the third period), collected three points to become the top-scoring player in his age-15 season in Kingston major junior franchise history.
Wright’s assist on Zayde Wisdom’s goal with 1:17 left in the third, tying the game 4-4 at the time, gave the now 16-year-old 52 points so far this season and moved him one point past the total Kirk Muller accumulated in the 1981-82 season when Muller was also in his age-15 season.
Muller, a Kingston native, in 67 games scored 12 goals and assisted on 39 in the season before he was drafted first overall in the 1982 Priority Selection by the Guelph Platers. There was no “exceptional status” early entry into the draft at that time. Muller went on to be drafted second overall in the 1984 NHL Entry Draft by the New Jersey Devils and played 19 seasons (1,349 games) in the NHL.
Burlington native Wright, meanwhile, was the first overall pick in the 2019 draft less than a year ago by the Frontenacs and has scored 31 goals and posted 21 assists for a 52-point haul in just 46 games. He was granted exceptional status by Hockey Canada and the Ontario Hockey Federation late last season — and the right to be drafted a year earlier than normal — after dominating minor midget hockey in his major bantam-aged campaign with the Don Mills Flyers.
Wright, the league’s top-scoring rookie this year, is now fourth among OHL underage rookies in modern OHL times (since 1967 when the major junior league expanded to 10 teams). Ahead of him are John Tavares (77 in 2005-06 with the Oshawa Generals), Jason Spezza (71 in 1998-99 with the Brampton Battalion) and Connor McDavid (66 in 2012-13 with the Erie Otters). Goal-wise, Wright’s total of 31 is behind only the 45 scored by Tavares.
With the loss, Kingston, 17-29-2-2 for 38 points, remained in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, a single point behind the Niagara IceDogs, who have lost nine in a row and have won just twice in their last 17 games. The IceDogs were outscored 28-5 in three losses since last Thursday. Mississauga, 24-24-3-1 for 52 points, stayed in fifth place in the conference.
The Frontenacs trailed 4-0 by just past the midway point of the game but came all the way back to even the score, with Wisdom’s goal with 1:17 remaining in the third tying it 4-4. Steelheads forward James Hardie, however, scored the winning goal 23 seconds later after the Frontenacs failed to get the puck out of their zone.
Following Wright’s goal, which ignited Kingston’s rally at 11:48 of the second period, was Dawson Baker, with his 17th, about six minutes later to make it a 4-2 game entering the third. Martin Chromiak, at 5:55 of the third on a power play, narrowed the gap to a single goal before Wisdom’s 24th tied the score.
Hardie’s game-winning goal was his second tally of the game. He also scored the team’s first goal in the first period. Michael Stubbs made it 2-0 5:35 into the second and Aidan Prueter followed with a pair, at 6:55 and 10:20.
Prueter’s first goal chased Frontenacs starting goaltender Christian Propp. Ryan Dugas came in and allowed Prueter’s second goal.
The Frontenacs’ comeback started with Chromiak feathering a pass to Wright, whose wrist shot beat Mississauga goaltender Kai Edmonds low to the glove side at 11:48. On Kingston’s second goal, Dustin Hutton’s pass found Baker in the slot and his shot went through Edmonds’ legs.
Chromiak’s goal, at 5:55 of the third and with Kingston on one of its four power plays of the period, came on a hard wrist shot from the right side.
In the third, Kingston spent most of the time in the Mississauga zone, despite the Steelheads outshooting the Frontenacs 12-8. The Steelheads really did not have any good scoring chances until the winning goal on a scramble play.
Kingston, in front of an announced crowd of 2,875, outshot Mississauga 36-35 in the game.
The Frontenacs travel to Oshawa to take on the Generals on Wednesday evening before hosting the Western Conference’s Windsor Spitfires on Friday at 7 p.m. at the Leon’s Centre.