The Ontario Hockey League can be a tough place to make a name for yourself.
As the first major professional stage many of the names among names in Canadian hockey pass through, teams fight in the standings—and players fight for jobs.
But Devlin native Jordan Davis seems to be making a go of it.
Davis plays left-wing for the Owen Sound Attack, who are fresh off a victory over the Erie Otters that pushed them out of last place in the league.
“We don’t have a very good record [3-11-1],” Davis admitted, but added, “I like it. A lot. For a rookie player, I find that I’m playing.”
Neither Davis nor the Attack are setting the province on fire, but the young man is finding his niche. In a league that recently saw an SIJHL and fellow district resident Luke Judson return after registering a goal and an assist in six games with the Belleville Bulls, Davis is a key cog in a youth movement on Georgian Bay.
Something he’ll admit even caught him by surprise at first.
“I didn’t expect to make it this year,” he said. “I came down here like, ‘Yeah, if I make it down here, I’ll stay.’
“When I found out I made the team, I had to get my clothes down here. I had three sets of clothes for three weeks. That was pretty rough,” he added.
So far, adjusting to life in the OHL hasn’t been too tough for Davis. He said the small, sleepy tourist town of Owen Sound reminds him of home, and while the struggle to balance one’s hockey career with high school is the hallmark of the league, it’s a lifestyle he’s used to.
The big changes, of course, are on the ice.
“Speedwise, it’s not that big of a difference, but being in position—if you’re not in your position, you’re gonna find the puck in the back of your net,” he related.
And, of course, the away games. In Davis’ 13 games, he’s already visited three of the biggest cities in the league—London, Kitchener, and Windsor. He admitted playing in a 9,100-seat arena like the John Labatt Centre in London is an adjustment.
“The fans are usually the most intimidating ’cause there’s probably 9,000 or 10,000 fans at those teams,” he noted. “It can be nerve-wracking if they score and the crowd erupts.”
Of course, the upside to playing in front of OHL crowds and on local television is a few of those fans are your own.
Fans aren’t lining up to see the Attack (“We get probably 2,000-2,500 fans a game, so not lots and lots of people,” Davis said), but the Owen Sound die-hards are supportive—and can be a big part of Davis’ life.
“One of my teachers at my school actually is a pretty big fan . . . I told her ‘Oh, I’m gonna get a goal for your birthday,’” he recalled.
Sure enough, “it was her birthday the day after my first goal,” he said.
While Davis is loving the OHL life, he admits he misses his friends and family back home. He said he keeps up with many back in Northwestern Ontario on the Internet, and keeps up with his friend, Kyle Turgeon, of the Fort Frances Jr. Sabres, eager to see how his career is progressing.
His only time off during the season comes in mid-December, and he’ll have less than two weeks before heading back to southern Ontario for league play.
If the Attack turn their season around and make the playoffs (an unlikely but nowhere near impossible situation), it could even longer before he gets to spend his summer at home.
But for now, Davis is living the dream. He loves his new home town and has made many friends of his teammates.
He’s working on his scoring touch (he’s got a goal and three assists, including one in his last game on Saturday) and his hard-nose play that has earned him 17 penalty minutes and a minus-2 rating (both good enough for the top six on the Attack).
His hard work is winning him fans on the ground floor of a rebuilding OHL team.
“It does kind of suck ’cause of course you wanna win,” Davis said, but added he’s hoping to stick around for when the cycle comes back around. “It can only get better as the years go on.”
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