It is quite the leap from minor midget hockey to the major junior level — and Zack Dorval is in the midst of the big jump.
Dorval, a 1998 birth-year centre, has moved up from the Soo Thunder minor midgets to the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League in the space of a single season. And while the youngster is experiencing the growing pains associated with being a fresh-faced rookie, he definitely has the makings of being “a good one.”
John Goodwin, the former OHL rookie-of-the-year (1978-1979) and league scoring champion (1980-1981), knows a thing or two about being a high-performance centre. And the 53-year old Goodwin, now the lead assistant coach with Kingston, likes the way Dorval is developing with the Frontenacs.
“He’s getting better every day,” Goodwin said of Dorval. “He works hard in practice and plays with a lot of intensity. It was tough on him early, being away from home and making the adjustment from top scorer in minor midget to a fourth-line player in the OHL, but he’s going to be just fine. He is going to be a good one.”
Dorval has played in 25 of the Frontenacs 29 games thus far this 2014-2015 season and has his first OHL goal to his credit. On the small side at 5-foot-10, 160 pounds, Dorval nonetheless plays with a gritty edge.
“He doesn’t back down,” Goodwin said of Dorval. “He’s not that big but he’s young and he’s just going to get stronger. It will be a big off-season for him after his rookie year.”
Dorval put up big numbers with the Soo minor midgets in 2013-2014 after moving here from his northeastern Ontario hometown of Hearst to advance his game. In all, Dorval had 48 goals, 33 assists, 81 points in 75 games with the Thunder and racked up 122 penalty minutes.
Rated as the top player his age from northern Ontario, Dorval lived up to that billing when he was selected by Kingston in the second round (35th overall) at the 2014 OHL draft.
Goodwin said there is no doubt in his mind that Dorval has what it takes to be a future OHL star.
“He’s got the work ethic and he has the skill,” Goodwin said evenly.
“He just needs to get stronger and to not get down on himself because he’s not putting up big points as a rookie,” Goodwin added. “Zack’s time will come and (Frontenacs head coach Paul McFarland) and I are really looking forward to being a part of his ongoing development.”