Matt Latin brings some Oshawa to the Generals

Homegrown product’s dream comes true making OHL club

Oshawa This Week

OSHAWA — Matt Latin admits he didn’t envision standing in the depths of the General Motors Centre as a member of the Oshawa Generals when training camp began for the Ontario Hockey League club late last month.

He dreamt about it plenty enough as a kid growing up in Oshawa and playing triple-A hockey all the way through, but two years removed from going undrafted and trying out for a team that ended last season as the best in the country, he also knew it was a long shot.

The fact that he’s still part of the plans with the regular season looming Sept. 25 is a testament to both his determination and the proven ability of the Generals’ staff to keep an open mind.

“I gave it my all in training camp, I worked as hard as I could,” explained Latin, an 18-year-old left winger listed at five foot 11 and 165 pounds. “It’s an honour to be here and play for my hometown. It’s incredible, a dream come true. I never envisioned it at all, but I’m glad it came true.”

It was his work ethic that indeed set him apart, said Roger Hunt, the team’s general manager and vice-president.

The Generals have made it a tradition of adding players through means other than just the draft, the best and most recent example being Anthony Cirelli, who signed as a free agent a year ago, unexpectedly made the deep Oshawa team and ultimately scored both goals in the Memorial Cup final and was drafted by the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Hunt isn’t expecting that sort of Cinderella story to play itself out again, but he did point out that he and coach Bob Jones, like D.J. Smith before him, take training camp very seriously.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a charity league and getting drafted is only part of the scenario,” Hunt explained. “We’re trying to put together the best 24, 25 players that we can and if a free agent comes in here and forces our hand, he’ll get that opportunity.

“What Matt did for us is he had a consistent camp and he played consistently, probably at the top of his game,” Hunt continued. “He had a level of consistency in his practices, in his scrimmages and his red-white games.”

Latin could still be on the fringe when the real games begin, but Hunt sees him right now as a bottom-six forward who could see some time on the penalty kill. He has played in all three pre-season games, all wins, and picked up his first point in a 4-3 decision over the Niagara IceDogs, assisting on a Joe Manchurek goal.

Coming from the Oshawa midget AAA team, where he had nine goals, 14 points and 54 penalty minutes in 29 games last season, Latin said the transition was eye-opening when he played his first exhibition game in Windsor.

“My first game, going from playing midget and jumping a bunch of levels to go to the OHL, it was tough,” he said. “I could feel that the game was a lot faster, guys are a lot stronger, and you have to think a lot quicker. I’m still adjusting, but I feel like I’m coming along pretty well.”

The Generals have had a handful of Durham Region players on their roster over the past few years, primarily from Whitby, but Latin is the first from Oshawa since Adam Berti and Justin Sawyer played for the club 10 years ago.

But, while it’s nice to have a homegrown product, that had nothing to do with his inclusion on the roster, Hunt assured.

“It does fall in line with a nice story, but really it didn’t have a whole lot to do with it,” he said. “It’s just a nice added plus for him and his family and our organization.”

Drew Sauveur
Author: Drew Sauveur

Local business owner and resident of Durham Region

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