‘It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL, but there are a lot of different paths to that league,’ says Orillia’s Chas Sharpe, who is captain of Mississauga this season.
The dream of playing in the NHL is on the line for Orillia’s Chas Sharpe this season.
Sharpe, 20, began playing hockey when he was around five years old, following in the footsteps of his father.
“Since I was born, I’ve been raised around the sport of hockey,” he explained. “My dad played Junior B and taught me how to compete and the importance of giving it your best effort for every game.”
Sharpe, an only child, also grew up playing lacrosse, which he was also good at.
“Lacrosse is big in Orillia,” he said. “All my buddies were playing, but I ultimately decided to go with hockey.”
Sharpe, a former Severn Shores Public School student, says it was not a difficult decision to choose hockey over lacrosse.
“The game of hockey has always been something that had really appealed to me,” he said. “It’s something that was easy for me to fall in love with.”
When Sharpe was nine, he started playing with the Orillia Terriers A team. In his first year with the team, he broke his wrist, which changed his hockey path forever.
Once the young forward was healthy enough to return to the lineup, his coaches decided to move him back to the point to play defence.
“I was pretty good at it,” Sharpe said. “I was a pretty good backwards skater at a young age which was a huge advantage.”
During Sharpe’s time with the Terriers, they went to the OMHA finals twice but came up short both times.
“It was a pretty memorable journey,” he said.
During his time with the Terriers, the right-handed shot defenceman was coached by Tim Mullen and played with his son, Will.
“They both helped me a lot,” Sharpe said. “I was tight with them during a time when I was growing up and really falling in love with the game.”
When he turned 11, Sharpe graduated to the North Central Predators AAA program.
“It was the right group for me to make it to the next level of hockey,” he said. “I also wanted to stay local in the Orillia area which made it a no-brainer. ”
Playing with the Predators and contributing to several tournament victories made Sharpe realize that he could play at the next level.
“I got better and better each year,” he said. “It started to become a real possibility for me to play in the OHL.”
During his minor midget year, Sharpe was frequently being scouted by OHL teams. He was selected in the third round, 60th overall, by the Mississauga Steelheads, where he has played all five years of his junior hockey career.
“Five years in the OHL is a long time,” Sharpe said. “When you get to this level there is a lot of coaching and tools to help you as a player and a person.”
During his first two years with the Steelheads, Sharpe, a former student of Patrick Fogarty Catholic Secondary School (PF) admits he struggled with being away from friends and family.
“Everybody was back home, at PF, and I couldn’t drive yet,” he explained. “Now that I can drive and a lot of my friends are away for university, it’s a lot easier. I see everyone a lot more now.”
Sharpe, who was named the captain of the Steelheads before this season, has already eclipsed his highest OHL goal total this year. He has 20 points in just 25 games played, placing him fifth on his team in scoring and 14th among defencemen in the league.
“I’ve grown a lot of confidence over the years,” he said. “I’ve been here for a while now and have a really good relationship with our coach, James Richmond.”
Sharpe credits Richmond for giving him “all the tools needed” to succeed in the OHL. He also credits his career year to the work he put in during the off-season.
“I ramped up the intensity,” he said. “This is my last year to get an NHL deal and that’s my goal.”
Leading up to the 2022 NHL draft, Shape, who stands at six-foot-three, had talked to a few different teams, who ultimately decided to pass on him.
“A team called me and said they were going to select me,” Sharpe recalls. “It just didn’t work out that way.”
Sharpe was devastated by being snubbed on the biggest stage for hockey’s best prospects.
“It hurt for sure,” he said. “It’s every kid’s dream to play in the NHL, but there are a lot of different paths to that league.”
Following the draft, Sharpe was invited to the Buffalo Sabres prospects camp.
“Being around NHL players every day was really cool,” he said. “It made me want to get there even more. When you get a little taste of it, it motivates you a lot.”
At the end of the camp, the Sabres decided to let Sharpe return to the Steelheads without a contract.
“It definitely lit a fire beneath me,” he said. “It gave me extra motivation to just keep working.”
Shape has been in contact with several NHL teams this season, giving him hope that his childhood dreams of playing pro are still alive.
“It’s looking very good as long as I keep playing the way I am,” he said. “I have to stay consistent this season and then get bigger and stronger over the summer.”
The Steelheads are currently 16-8-1 this season, placing them first in the Central Division.
“We are always trying to win here,” he said. “Our goal is to make it to the Memorial Cup.”
Sharpe thanks his parents, Paul Sharpe Leslie Newhall, for supporting him along his hockey journey.
“They have supported me through every step of my life,” he said. “They are along with me through this long journey of my hockey career. I’m super grateful for them.”
Original Article By: Tyler Evans
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: Dec. 5, 2023
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters