When the Niagara IceDogs selected Pano Fimis with the 2nd overall selection in the 2020 OHL Priority Selection, they added something they were missing: a franchise centerpiece they can build around.
Now that Fimis is officially committed to the IceDogs, Niagara has its biggest building block in place.
The young center will step into a big role from Day 1 and will be given every chance to show why he was taken as the highest selected player in franchise history.
“To go 2nd overall and to top it all off, to go to Niagara is just an honour, I just can’t wait to get things started with them,” said Fimis about his draft experience.
Off the ice, Fimis is a normal, humble teenager but on the ice, he is an explosive two-way center that perfectly fits the mold of “potential franchise centerman.”
Fimis’ hockey role model
The Richmond Hill, ON. native played in 32 GTMMHL games for the Toronto Jr. Canadiens last season, scoring 14 goals and adding 28 assists for 42 points.
However, the points only scratch the surface of Fimis’ body of work.
He earned the 2019-20 GTHL player of the year award, leading the Jr. Canadiens to a very successful campaign.
Fimis, 15, understands that hockey is more than about producing and when you’re taken at 2nd overall it’s about more than your ability to record points.
“I’m a two-way centerman, I like to play in all three zones,” said Fimis. “I like to use my speed and my physicality to my advantage, feed off the energy.”
The two-way game comes from a player that Fimis models his game after, a player who had incredible success at every level of the game, three-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Toews.
“I play a lot like him, he’s a great leader on and off the ice, he is a two-way centerman, great in the circle,” said Fimis.
“Toews is someone I try to look up to, not only as a role model but also for his play on the ice.”
Fimis understands that Toews’ game on the ice is important, but the way that handles himself as a leader on and off the ice is what makes him so special.
The IceDogs have to be thrilled that their 2nd overall pick models himself after one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards and captains in the league.
Fimis brings high-level offensive ability
Fimis’ understanding of the importance of the two-way game is a great asset for any young hockey player but his game is so much more than that.
The Niagara IceDogs finished 2nd last in the OHL in goals for and after losing key forwards like Phil Tomasino, Ivan Lodnia, and Akil Thomas they were in dire need of an offensive talent.
Fimis brings that ability to the table.
“I’d say one of my biggest assets is my playmaking ability and my vision on the ice, knowing where everyone is at all times,” said Fimis.
Niagara has some players on the wings who can score. They acquired Cam Butler and Jake Uberti had a very impressive 2nd season.
By adding Fimis, Niagara has added another player who will have the ability to produce on a nightly basis in all situations.
Fimis approaches the offensive game by doing whatever the team needs him to do to produce.
“I always go by making the right hockey play, so if the shot is there, I’ll take the shot but if the pass is there, I’m definitely going to make the pass.”
Niagara is ready to build their offence around Fimis
The IceDogs are going through a lot of turnover in their forward group.
With a solid core of defence already in place, the IceDogs spent 11 of their 13 picks on forwards, one of which will help Fimis adjust to his new home easier.
In the third round, the IceDogs took Fimis’ GTHL teammate and linemate Brice Cooke.
“I was pumped to see that he was coming, I texted him right away to tell him I was so happy for him,” said Fimis about finding out his teammate was drafted by Niagara.
“It brings some ease, and some more excitement too, to maybe get the chance to play with someone again.”
Brice Cooke is a very talented player, capable of putting the puck in the net on a regular basis (22 goals in 31 games), the fact that he is immensely talented and brings some familiarity to the organization for Fimis is a win-win for both the team and Pano.
“I’m really glad to see that one of my teammates, someone that I know, someone that I played with is coming with me,” said Fimis.
With the additions of Butler (trade deadline) and Cooke (priority selection), Niagara now has two high-level goal-scoring wingers in their top-6.
This allows the coaching staff flexibility with their offensive approach. Fimis is the centerpiece but every hockey player needs someone to ease their transition to the next level.
By adding goal-scoring talent to their forward group the IceDogs are showing that they are ready to build their offence around their two-way, playmaking center.
Excited about coming to Niagara
On Tuesday, Fimis officially committed to the IceDogs for his OHL career.
Signed, scanned and submitted ✍️
— Niagara IceDogs (@OHLIceDogs) April 21, 2020
Coming to Niagara and being an IceDog are things that Fimis is extremely excited about.
“I got a little virtual tour of the arena, it just looks phenomenal, I heard the fans are like no one else, they’re insane they’re loud I can’t wait to play in front of them,” said Fimis.
“Everything, everything just sounds so great, I also can’t wait to meet my new teammates and play with them.”
As the 2nd overall pick, Fimis is the highest selected IceDog ever but Fimis is ready to contribute and isn’t concerned with any outside pressure.
“I’m pretty good under high-pressure situations, just calm myself down take a deep breath and do what I can.”
“I don’t worry about the results, I worry about what I can do to make the results as best as possible.”
While the IceDogs have some strong forwards in place, there is no question that Fimis is the player they want to build around and he is extremely excited to be a member of the IceDogs organization.