It’s time for Kingston to meet Max Domi.
The Frontenacs’ most recent first-round pick will make his lone visit to the K-Rock Centre on Friday night with the London Knights, who remain the top-ranked team in the Canadian Hockey League.
“It’s just another game for me,” said the 16-year-old forward, currently second in Ontario Hockey League rookie scoring with 18 goals and 42 points in 51 games. “It’s nothing more than that. I can only control what happens on the ice and that’s what I’m going to try to do.”
Domi, the minor midget standout with the Don Mills Flyers, went eighth overall to Kingston last May. He was Doug Gilmour’s first selection as Fronts GM.
The Knights picked next and took promising power forward Bo Horvat, but rumours persisted all summer Domi would be heading to London, giving the Knights the Nos. 8 and 9 choices in the OHL draft.
After Domi was declared a no-show at Kingston training camp last August, Gilmour officially pushed the button on the controversial transaction. The rebuilding Frontenacs received three second-round picks (Erie’s and Guelph’s in 2012 and London’s in 2015), plus a compensatory first-round selection in the 2012 draft this April.
In January, Gilmour made a move with the Sarnia Sting to acquire the fourth overall pick from the 2011 draft — Ryan Kujawinski. Barring a huge change in the standings, the Frontenacs will pick second and ninth in the 2012 draft.
“I’ve said it before, Doug Gilmour is one of the greatest Toronto Maple Leafs of all-time and a player I grew up having a lot of respect for,” said Domi, who grew up around the team’s dressing room where his dad Tie and Gilmour were teammates. “None of that has changed.”
The young Domi is a much different player than his dad, one of the most noted fighters in NHL history.
Though he became a public enemy in Owen Sound for a much-publicized hit that knocked out Belarusian import Artur Gavrus for more than two months, the 5-foot-10, 184-pounder leans more towards the skill side of the game than the rough stuff.
He scored a hat trick in his first OHL game, an 8-0 victory in London over Saginaw, and has spent a lot of time on the Knights’ top scoring line while earning significant power play responsibility — heady accomplishments for a first-year player.
He served as an alternate captain for Ontario’s bronze-medal entry at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor. Horvat was captain on a team that also featured Kujawinski.
Kingston native Scott Harrington, a star defenceman for the Knights, doesn’t expect Domi will be in for a rough ride at the K-Rock Centre.
“He’ll be fine,” the Canadian world junior blueliner said. “I don’t think there should be anything. We want to go there and get our (eastern Ontario) trip off on the right foot.”
The Knights have yet to lose consecutive games this season. They fell to Sarnia Monday afternoon, so that streak will be on the line again in Kingston. The Knights are in Belleville on Saturday and Ottawa on Sunday.
The Frontenacs, buoyed by the 49-save performance of former London backup goalie Igor Bobkov, shocked the Knights 4-1 at the John Labatt Centre on Jan. 13.
“They beat us and we want to go in there and prove to them what we’re all about,” Domi said.
Harrington, as always, is looking forward to the visit home.
“It’s always nice,” he said, “especially this year, since I didn’t have time to go home (because of the world juniors). I look forward to seeing familiar faces.”
Harrington has been back in the Knights lineup for the past two weeks after rehabilitating a shoulder injured while playing for Canada against the United States on New Year’s Eve.
The Pittsburgh Penguins prospect is part of London’s top defensive unit along with captain and Montreal Canadiens first rounder Jarred Tinordi.