By Jordan Ercit
Kitchener Post staff
It’s the kids’ fault. So blame the youth — for not being old enough — for the lack of Kitchener Dutchmen representation at this weekend’s GOJHL all-star game at Kinsmen Arena in Kitchener.
If everything goes to plan, only one Dutchmen player, top scorer Keli Grant, will represent his team at home Saturday when the league’s top veterans and future talents take to the ice starting at 1 p.m. with the top prospects game.
The all-star contest, which features Dutchmen defenceman Clayton Greer as an alternate, starts at 4 p.m.
But don’t expect Brad Lund to raise a stink. Although surprised, the Dutchmen head coach understands the GOJHL all-star is a farewell salute to some of the older players in the junior-B loop.
For the most part, participants were born in 1992 or 1993, the only exceptions being Caledonia’s Brandon Montour (third among defencemen in scoring) and goalies Lucas Machalski of Cambridge and Dalen Kuchmey of Strathroy (top-three in the league in save percentage).
As for the Dutchmen, most of their top producers — like Philip Moser, Keegan Calder, Dylan Bursey, Tyler Hoffman and Ryo Kobayaski — still have another couple seasons at least of junior eligibility left.
“If you look at the all-star team, you’re going to see they’re all 1992s and ’93s,” Lund said. “If you look at our roster, we’re still a very young team . . . And without a lot of older players, you’re not going to see many guys get to the all-star team.
“I would have thought we would have had a few more guys on the prospect team, but it is all of junior-B hockey. So it’s tough to get there.”
Meanwhile, Kitchener’s lone representative, although hopeful, is not sure whether he will be able to suit up for the all-star game.
Grant, recalled by the Kitchener Rangers this month and leading the Dutchmen with 27 goals in 28 games, is expected to play for the OHL club Friday when the Barrie Colts visit The Aud at 7:30 p.m. and join them on the road to Belleville Saturday.
The GOJHL all-star game is Sunday.
“I think I’ll be able to make it . . . hopefully we get back at a decent hour,” said the Kingston native, who scored the game-winner for the Rangers Dec. 13 against the Windsor Spitfires. “The guys I’ll be playing with are the best at the junior-B level, so I’m looking forward to it.”
The 19-year-old forward said the chance to spend most of the season in one spot, as well as playing with linemates Calder and Brett Clampitt, has helped him fill the net.
That hasn’t always been the case. In 2010-11, Grant was called up briefly by the Rangers but spent most of the year with the Ontario Junior Hockey League’s Kingston Voyageurs. Last year, his season was split between the Dutchies and the Rangers.
“I feel way more relaxed,” Grant said. “Last year was pretty stressful, because I was up and down with the Rangers every day. My mind was in different places . . . and I’ve never been on one team before throughout my (junior career).
“I’d like to stay somewhere. It’s not frustrating going back and forth, but it’s a lot of work with school and everything.”
Admission to the GOJHL all-star and top prospects game is $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and students and $6 for kids between the age of six and 12. Kids under six are admitted free.