By Sam Hossack
North Bay, Ontario: North Bay Battalion forward Mitchell Russell has been having a career start to his third year in the league. The Barrie, ON native has five goals and nine assists for 14 points. He is also getting top line minutes on a Battalion team that has been struggling.
In 2016, Mitch was living at home with parents Nadine and Kevin and his brother Jordan. He was going into his Grade 9 year at Eastview Secondary School and playing the game he loved. Mitchell was one of top players on the Barrie Jr Colts AAA Minor Midget team during his draft year where he picked up 29 goals and 19 assists for 49 points in 33 games.
In April 2016, Mitch was drafted by the Owen Sound Attack 20th Overall. He would soon be moving away from home at the age of 16 and would be two hours from home in Owen Sound. The first few months in Owen Sound would show Mitch exactly what he going to see all season long. He was getting few minutes on the fourth line but he took advantage of every chance he could. He would finish the season with three goals and four assists for fifty seven points.
Mitch would return home to Barrie for the summer of training with his best friends Isaak Phillips (Sudbury Wolves) and Jacob Partridge (Brantford 99ers OJHL) with local skating coach Paul Matheson. They were on the ice all summer working on everything that the young players needed for their next season. Mitch’s hard work paid off during last season when he returned to Owen Sound. He found his name being used more and he was getting the puck into the net.
In January 2018, The Owen Sound Attack made a trade with the North Bay Battalion which would see Adam McMaster going to the Attack for Russell. Mitch had picked up five goals and six assists for eleven points in thirty three games.
After joining the Battalion he would go onto play in 32 games where he put up eight goals and five assists for 13 points to finish the season with 13 goals and 11 assists. During the 2018 OHL Playoffs he would pickup one assist in five games versus the Niagara IceDogs.
This season, Mitch has been on a tear and has already set a career high in assists with nine and points with 14. He is playing top minutes and is also on one of the Battalion power play units. He is also starting to turn some heads up north. The Battalion are currently 3 – 13 – 0 – 0 and the now third year veteran is one of the top players for the struggling Battalion.
The Barrie native has certainly caught the attention of many teams for sure and will be a top player to watch out of North Bay for the rest of the season.