November has been quite the month for Kingston Frontenacs sophomore forward Nathan Dunkley.
Slowed down in October by a five-game suspension handed to him by the Ontario Hockey League, the 17-year-old Campbellford native is now playing the type of hockey that first drew Kingston’s attention in his 2016 draft year, when the Frontenacs selected him with their first pick.
“I am just trying to play the right way: stick to the basics and worry about my own end first and let the offence handle itself,” Dunkley, who has amassed 17 points in 11 games for the month, said.
Dunkley has only failed to pick up a point in one game in November. He now has eight goals and 24 points in his 20 games played.
The suspension he took on Oct. 6, when he directed some not-so-wise words toward the Flint Firebirds players bench, came after he had opened the season at a point-per-game production.
Obviously the suspension was his own doing and Dunkley, who is in his National Hockey League draft year, has come to grips with it.
“I own my suspension. I’ve put it behind me and moved forward,” Dunkley said. “It was tough trying to come back, but I think I’ve found my stride.”
It is no coincidence that Dunkley’s play took off recently when head coach Jay Varady shuffled lines, putting Dunkley at centre between Jason Robertson and Linus Nyman.
“They are two great players [who] have great vision. It makes my job so much easier,” Dunkley said.
Varady borrowed a phrase from Columbus Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella, who said that he sometimes puts guys together for no real reason and they turn out good together.
“These guys [Dunkley, Robertson and Nyman] got together and they started to produce. As a group, our team started to have a little success and you just stay with that,” Varady said.
“I think Nathan’s biggest strength is his tenacity. When he is playing his best, you see him winning battles in the corner, going to the rough areas to score [using] the middle drive to get to the right spot.”
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