Dreams and aspirations are entities that everyone possesses. We all have a goal of being or doing something. Whether we reach those ambitions is a different story but we all begin our journey looking to accomplish our dreams. For London Knights forward, Antonio Stranges, his desire of one day playing in the National Hockey League will become closer to reality in the summer of 2020.
Through the early stages of his draft-eligible year, Stranges is making a fantastic impression. He has five goals and two assists in the first four games and makes an impact on every shift. With 34 points in his rookie season, it is clear that Stranges put in the necessary work during the offseason. “I worked on getting bigger and stronger,” Stranges says, “and keeping my skating up.” He understands that skating is an imperative part of today’s game and Stranges is becoming one of the best skaters in the OHL. Along with his scoring ability, it will be one of the main reasons he climbs up the draft rankings this season.
Antonio Stranges Possesses Team-First Mentality
With that draft looming, it’s easy for young players to get distracted. The focus can easily shift to individual performance. For Antonio Stranges, however, that is not the case. “I don’t think about it (the draft) at all honestly”, Stranges states. He continues, “I’m just focussed on getting a long playoff run going with these guys and hopefully winning a Memorial Cup.” Of course, that’s the mentality London and its fans want out of their star players.
Expectations for the Knights are at an all-time high. The roster is stacked with talent and anything but a deep playoff run would be considered a failure. Stranges and his teammates understand these expectations and use it as a catalyst. He claims, “The spotlight is always on us, we don’t want to disappoint the fans and take it as a huge motivation.” In regards to how the team is playing, Stranges feels everything is going well so far. ” We’re doing good, all the young guys are fitting in really well,” he adds, “obviously Ryan Merkley coming to our team was a big help on the back end and we’re just building off of it.”
Stranges’s team-first mentality demonstrates the potential to be a valuable leader throughout his hockey career. It’s not all about what he provides on the ice, but the example he sets in the locker room as well. If he places London’s success above everything else, others will follow suit.
Individual Goals Still Remain
It would be unrealistic to expect Stranges to not have any personal goals for the season. Of course, his main focus is a successful season for the Knights. However, Stranges knows that his individual performance is a big factor in how London performs.
Regarding his personal goals for the year, Stranges explains, “Obviously I want to be up there in points, top five would be great.” Not only would it be great, but it is also possible. The 17-year-old’s mix of high-end skating, agility, and scoring ability make him a consistent threat on offense. Currently, London’s second-best point producer, the opportunities to add to the stat sheet will be there all season long.
The 2019-20 OHL regular season is still very young. Of course, a lot can happen from now until the postseason. Still, Antonio Stranges is a player that should be high on everyone’s watch list as he strives to bring the Memorial Cup trophy back to London.