As hockey in Northeast Pennsylvania has continued to grow over the past decade, most eyes have been on Shavertown native and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins forward Patrick McGrath.
Local hockey fans better get used to hearing C.J. Yakimowicz’s name, too.
Yakimowicz, who grew up in Kingston, was a part of the Memorial Cup Championship-winning London Knights. The Knights won major junior hockey’s top prize with an overtime victory in the title game against the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (Jean-Sébastien Dea’s old squad) on Sunday evening.
London was an epic force throughout the postseason. The Knights went 16-2 in the Ontario Hockey League Playoffs en route to a league title, and continued their winning ways with their 17th-straight victory resulting in a Memorial Cup Title.
Yakimowicz’s contribution to this dominant squad doesn’t necessarily reflect itself on the scoresheet, but don’t mistake a lack of scoring for a lack of effectiveness. A speedy winger with tons of size, Yakimowicz is a bull on the forecheck and a handful in front of the opposing net. His fast and headstrong style frustrates defenses and often results in drawn penalties.
Those Penguins fans wondering if Yakimowicz can become a McGrath 2.0 and play for his hometown team should know that he was drafted by the St. Louis Blues in the sixth round (172nd overall) of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. However, the Blues have yet to ink Yakimowicz to his entry-level contract. If St. Louis doesn’t sign the Kingston native before June 24, he will re-enter the selection process for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.