SOUTH DUNDAS – Every kid who has ever played hockey has dreamed of playing in the NHL. For Iroquois hockey player Roarke “Rory” Gilmour, he is one step closer of making that dream a reality. Gilmour, 15, was drafted by the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League last weekend.
The 5 foot 11 inch defenceman was drafted in the ninth round, 172th overall in the 2022 OHL Priority Selection Draft April 30.
“It’s a huge honour to be drafted by a team with a history like Kitchener,” Gilmour told The Leader after the draft. “It’s got one of the best fan bases in the OHL, it’s a great city. I’m very glad to be going to the Rangers.”
Gilmour, who goes by Rory with his friends and family, was one of 76 players who were invited to take part in the OHL’s Development Combine the weekend before the draft. Being part of the Combine he thought he might have gone higher in the draft but said it was also a competitive draft year.
“I just thought ‘You know, only 303 kids get drafted. Even if I go 303rd I still got drafted to the OHL. That’s a big accomplishment. Many kids don’t get drafted.’”
Gilmour noted it was a relief when his name was finally called.
“It was definitely a big relief. To hear my name called, see my name on the board.”
After the draft, Kitchener Rangers Assistant General Manager Michael Zsolt explained why the team drafted Gilmour.
“Roarke is a very talented defenceman with strong skating, very skilled with the puck, with potential to produce offence. We’re really excited to have him in the program and think he will be able to contribute at our level.”
Nick Tatler from Prospects by Sports Illustrated said that Gilmour had an OHL grade shot and strong skating.
“Gilmour serves to be a deadly offensive threat for his opponents both five-on-five and on the power play,” Tatler wrote. “Due to his past pedigree, it was easy for Gilmour to step into a role on the U18 team.”
Gilmour played two seasons with the Kemptville 73s U18 AAA team. This past season, he put up 21 points in 32 games including eight goals. During the pandemic restricted season, the 73s’ U18 team was “bubbled” with another team. Gilmour explained that the playing opportunity during that time helped him develop more as a defenceman.
“It was good to take some time, get bigger and strong, and to also take some time off the ice to help with the body wear-and-tear,” he said.
Coined a offensive-defenceman, he said playing in that position is the best of both worlds for him.
“Everyone likes to score goals and that is something I like to do. You get to quarterback the play, and be a forward at the same time,” he said adding he looks to Colorado Avalanche defenceman Cale Makar for inspiration on playing.
To get ready for the next step, Gilmour will be training throughout the spring and summer, in Ottawa for conditioning, and on the ice.
Gilmour is a Grade 10 student at Seaway District High School in Iroquois. He was drafted by the 73s in 2020 in the CCHL Bantam Select Draft. Prior to that he played for the Upper Canada Cyclones, Rideau-St. Lawrence Kings, and began playing hockey in the South Dundas Minor Hockey Association.
Gilmour said he would not have been able to get to this point without the support of his parents Dale and Carrie.
“How much time they spend out of their day getting me to the places where I need to be, the amount of money they pay for hockey, staying at arenas for multiple hours of a day. It’s stuff they don’t have to do but they do to help me.”
Looking ahead, Gilmour is excited for the challenges ahead to make the Rangers’ team and knows he has his work cut out for him. The next step in that journey will start soon with a trip to Kitchener this week where all the draftees will meet with the Rangers. A prospects camp for the team comes next in mid-May, then training camp later this summer. His short term goal is to crack the team’s roster this year but has his sights set much higher.
Phillip Blancher, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Morrisburg Leader